Marion Lane, Wintersong, and Daughters of Nri (TBR.co Review)
WHAT IS TBR.co (TAILORED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS)?/HOW I FOUND IT
I was introduced to this service by one of my favorite Youtubers, Kayla from BooksandLala. Essentially, you fill out a survey about your favorite books and what you like/look for in books, etc. They then match you with a bibliologist who recommends you three or four books to read. I want to stress that I am a paying customer just like everyone else, so you can be assured that my reviews of the books I was recommended are not at all biased.
1.Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T. A. Willburg (Adult Mystery)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The titular Marion Lane is recruited to work for an underground detective agency known as Miss Brickett’s. When a fellow employee is murdered and Marion’s mentor is implicated, Marion sets out to solve the crime.
I completely understand why this book was picked for me. It combines a couple of things I have mentioned previously as enjoying in books. The first one is mysteries where there are secret passageways and/or hidden rooms and compartments. This book has an underground, labyrinth like setting. That might sound claustrophobic, but it really doesn’t feel that way because there is this sense of vastness to the tunnels. Bonus: there’s also some really cool detective gadgets the characters utilize! The other thing I like that is in this book is genre crossing (meaning a book falls under multiple genres). This book is part mystery (obviously in the form of the murder), but also part historical fiction (it takes place in London after WWII), with just a sprinkle of magic/sci-fi (alchemy). All the various genres were really well woven together into the story. The characters in the novel were probably the least interesting part of the story for me. I liked Marion being an independent, career driven woman ahead of her time, but other than that they just didn’t really stand out. I liked this book enough to pick up the sequel and plan to also read the third book when it comes out this year.
FINAL RATING: 4⭐
2. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (YA Fantasy)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Elisabeth’s sister is stolen by the Goblin King and taken underground. Elisabeth ventures below ground to save her and offers to take her sister’s place as the Goblin King's bride.
This one is another where I can clearly see where my bibliologist was coming from given this book has strong fairy tale vibes (and I’m a fairy tale lover). The book compares itself to Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince and that’s a fair comparison. However, I’d also point you towards Beauty and the Beast as being a comparable title. Friends to lovers and enemies to lovers are opposite tropes, but somehow Elisabeth and the Goblin King fit into both of them seamlessly. I really related to Elizabeth’s character in that she’s a fellow creative who struggles with her self-esteem. I don’t think she was always the most likable because she could be selfish at times, but she and the Goblin King had great chemistry in a very angst charged romance. I also picked up the sequel to this book and that was the conclusion to the series as it’s a duology. The sequel was a real letdown, unfortunately. It had a meandering plot and virtually no Goblin King.
FINAL RATING: 4⭐
3. Daughters of Nri by (YA Fantasy)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Naala and Sinai are twins who grew up unaware of the other’s existence. They are the daughters of a goddess in a world where the gods have departed from the earth after a great war.
This was the recommendation I was most looking forward to and so I was super sad that I didn’t really enjoy it at all. It was painfully slow plot wise despite its short length. The two story lines it follows don’t diverge until the ending which is very rushed. I liked Naala’s chapters more than Sinai’s as Naala had some bravery and fierceness to her. Her chapters also felt like they were actually progressing the plot whereas Sinai’s were more stagnant and she was pretty useless in them. The writing was also disjointed and I wanted more scenes of the twins together. I believe this was picked because I said in my survey on the TBR.co website that I like own voices fantasy books. Like I said, based on the synopsis alone I was super pumped to read this. I think the idea had a lot of promise so it upsets me that this one wasn’t a win for me.
FINAL RATING: 2.5⭐
FINAL THOUGHTS/WAS THIS SET WORTH IT?
One third of my recommendations was a dud but I’d say it was worth it still because I thoroughly enjoyed the other two. The fact that i didn’t like the sequel to Wintersong doesn’t alter my thoughts on the book, though if you’re going to read it I don’t think it’s worth it to read the sequel. It was easy to tell why each book was recommended, even if I didn’t love it. That for me is what matters the most when considering if the service is worth the cost. For me, this is worth it for the new books and authors I’ve discovered and the fact that every three months it’s a fun surprise to look forward to receiving.
THOUGHTS ON MY NEXT SET OF RECOMMENDATIONS
I specifically requested not receiving any fantasy recommendations this time around because I knew I was going to get a few for Christmas. Instead, I asked for mystery and romance (especially adult romance though I read both YA and adult mysteries). The three recommendations I received are for: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (YA mystery), I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (adult romance), and Always Only You by Chloe Liese (adult romance). Among these I’m most excited for I’m So (Not) Over You because it sounds like a fake dating meets second chance romance and second chance is my second favorite (no pun intended) romance trope. I’m second most excited for A Study in Charlotte because my bibliologist mentioned she recommended it because I like Truly Devious. Finally, Always Only You is a sport romance which isn’t something I’m naturally drawn to, but I'm open to it given my second favorite book of 2022 was one centered on an athlete and her sport.