The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton – Review

Published: June 15, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

Series: Dangerous Damsels #1

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Pages: 324 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

I’ve had my eye on this book since it was originally released last year. Promising a fun romantic story full of lady thieves, pirates, and assassination attempts all whilst cavorting about the skies in flying houses, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels sounded like a proper good time. And it was fun! Just perhaps not as fun as I had hope.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is a lady thief, hoping to be recognized by the rest of her society as a full-fledged member but alas, her parentage stands in the way. You see, her father is a dastardly, gothic pirate in a massive flying castle and he’s infamous. He killed Cecilia’s mother and quite frankly, the society fears that Cecilia may have inherited his dastardly traits. He’s quite determined to have his wayward daughter back home and sends kidnapper and sometimes assassin Ned Lightbourne after her. The two meet and after trading violence and witty quips, it’s clear they are attracted to one another. So we spend the next several hundred pages waiting on them to finally admit it and run away together.

I think this was just a little too over-the-top ridiculous for my tastes, though I do love humor and a good romance plot. I found myself wishing the pace would move along more quickly because it seemed to stall out at times. Too much dithering! Not enough stabbing and kissing! I also felt like it just tried too hard to be quirky and fun. I feel horrendously judgmental and negative saying all this because I did have fun with it but I think it would have worked better for me in print format versus audio because I can zoom right through a book like this in print. The audio format just made it drag out a little too much! Overall, it was fun and quirky, but perhaps it wasn’t the correct book for me at the time.

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse – Review

Published: April 19, 2022

Publisher: Saga Press

Series: Between Earth and Sky #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 388 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart.
—Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

When I read Black Sun last year, I was thoroughly swept off my feet. It was one of the most fascinating, unputdownable books I had read that year and obviously I was dying to get my hands on the sequel. And lo’ it arrived and the audio narration in Black Sun was so good I picked up that format once again!

Fevered Star picks up almost immediately after the events of Black Sun, so of course the characters are dealing with the fallout of the slaughter at Sun Rock. Serapio was wounded and flew away with Okoa on one of the giant crows and now must meet the members of Carrion Crow. He was expecting to die at Sun Rock and now he has to play political games. Naranpa was supposed to be dead twice over – first when she was almost assassinated by members of her own faith and second when Sun Rock occurred. Now she and Serapio are both avatars of their gods walking among men and chaos is sure to follow such things. Xiala is literally just trying not to get killed and also deal with her own grief and guilt because she unintentionally caused death with her Teek song. There are numerous other side characters, each with their own motivations that really help bring the story to life and give additional perspective into the events.

I enjoyed the additional focus on Naranpa this time around, as she was probably the least fleshed out/engaging character the first time around. She just seemed so young and naive, but now she’s hardened to the realities of the world and has endured numerous trials. Serapio went from being this confident, goal oriented figure to a very uncertain man in a pit of vipers. Sure, they’re supposed to be his tribe, but he truly doesn’t know them because he was raised in a distant, secluded home. And Xiala… I loved her in the first book! She was damaged, but still a badass! This time around she lacked the agency and direction she previously had – her strings were cut and she’s just sort of going with the flow. I want a proper reunion between Xiala and Serapio!

I enjoyed Fevered Star, but not with the same fervor that I did Black Sun. This is clearly setting up the likely epic plot of the third and final book in the series and I can totally forgive that. It was still very good and the political machinations were engaging and there were some tasty morsels of action thrown in just often enough. Totally ready to see how this trilogy ends – I’m sure it will result in an epic clash of gods and magic.

Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett – Review

Published: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: The Founders Trilogy #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.

June was *the* month for anticipated fantasy sequels and rounding out my reading selection was Locklands, the finale of the Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. I fell in love with Foundryside and the unique magical coding that was used to power all sorts of things from the mundane to the exquisite. Shorefall was an upping of the stakes and I rated it at 4.5 stars thanks to the amazing characters and worldbuilding. Unfortunately, as you can see by my rating of Locklands, I found the grand finale to be somewhat of a disappointment and here’s why.

First of all, while I don’t mind a time skip when more of the same ol’ thing is going on, I DO mind one when it leaves me feeling like I’ve started a whole new series. Locklands has an eight year time skip and dumps you right in the action, surrounded by new characters, loads of new technology, and one hell of crisis. It was jarring and it got info-dumpy when it came to so many of the new terms, technology, characters, and even the new “country” Gizeh. So, right from the start I was put off, but the war against Tevanne (Gregor/Valeria combo) was interesting and it was easy to chug along despite my annoyance. 

I found I didn’t connect with the new characters well – Delia was given the bare bones of a backstory and Greeter and Design, the hivemind characters, were fascinating in concept but I never acquired that emotional connection. It’s hard not to love Sancia, Berenice, and Clef though so that certainly redeemed things. Clef in particular was given his chance to shine in this installment and we get a great deal of his ancient past, long before he became the key. Long before there were hierophants, there were Namers who saw the sigils that make up the world and the dwelt in an ancient city. Clef, or Claviedes as he was known then, was one such Namer though the tale that led him to his current state is one of tragic proportions. I did get a little teary eyed during the latter portion of the book thanks to some rather touching/heartbreaking moments. 

I ended up being satisfied with the conclusion of the trilogy, but found myself disappointed overall by Locklands. It was a jarring change of pace and I’m of the opinion a short novella (Founders Trilogy 2.5, if you will) would have been the perfect transitional piece to ease readers into the harsh new world in Locklands. For those interested in picking this up, please don’t let me scare you away from the series or this book in particular – I seem to be in the minority, as many other reviews are quite positive and it’s sitting at 4.12 stars on Goodreads!

The Martyr by Anthony Ryan – Review

Published: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Covenant of Steel #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 576 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Martyr
is the second novel in The Covenant of Steel, a new epic fantasy series of action, intrigue and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.

Times have changed for Alwyn Scribe. Once an outlaw, he’s now a spymaster and sworn protector of Lady Evadine Courlain, whose visions of a demonic apocalypse have earned her the fanatical devotion of the faithful.

Yet Evadine’s growing fame has put her at odds with both Crown and Covenant. As trouble brews in the kingdom, both seek to exploit her position for their own ends.

Sent to the Duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellion, Alwyn must rely on old instincts to fight for his new cause. Deadly feuds and ancient secrets are laid bare as war erupts, a war that will decide the fate of the Kingdom of Albermaine and, perhaps, prevent the coming of the prophesied Second Scourge.

The story begins with Evadine Courlain’s claim that she is a Risen Martyr challenged by both king and church. Through some careful maneuvering, she is ultimately recognized as such but then she and the Covenant Company are sent southward to the duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellious duke and the unorthodox belief that has taken root. 

Here we get a fantastic siege set up and some truly excellent battle scenes. Think of men climbing siege ladders only to be furiously hacked down by the soldiers above, deadly arrows in the night picking guards off the battlements, and the tension within as the siege continues. At times I can find extended battle scenes somewhat tedious, but I never find that to be the case with Anthony Ryan’s writing. I’m always compelled to keep turning pages with nary a sign of boredom and perhaps that’s helped by the narration of Alwyn Scribe. I enjoy his narrative voice immensely and the fact that he tells this story in his old age, where he’s reflecting back on his younger days really fascinates me. It leaves me wondering what steps he might have taken to end up such an influential person in history, as the little snippets before each new section imply.

One of my favorite parts of the book was, unsurprisingly Alwyn’s sojourn with the Caerith people. You may recall that the Sack Witch in the first book was one of the Caerith. Ever since she was introduced I was super curious to learn more about her and her people, plus you know, cool magic. I loved this part – it was a nice refreshing break from the continuous battles and it sort of opened the door to the larger scope of things. This story goes beyond kingdoms and duchies, for the Second Scourge is coming.

This was a fantastic sequel that left me hungering for the next book. If you enjoyed the first book, I’m sure you’ll love the sequel just as much. Also, lemme just give a shout out to the cover artist for such a cool looking cover – Alwyn looks like such a badass!

In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan – Review

Published: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Glass Immortals #1

Pages: 576 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0 Stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage trilogy, comes the first novel in the Glass Immortals series, In the Shadow of Lightning, an epic fantasy where magic is a finite resource—and it’s running out.

“Excellent worldbuilding and a truly epic narrative combine into Brian’s finest work to date. Heartily recommended to anyone who wants a new favorite fantasy series to read.”—Brandon Sanderson

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.

Guys! June has already brought me another book that will go on my Best Books of 2022 list!! Having seen the magic that Brian McClellan can work with the Powder Mage and Gods of Blood and Powder series, I had high expectations for In the Shadow of Lightning. And oh my, I could not have been happier unless I had the entire finished series in my hands at once. This book was incredible with an epic new magic system based on godglass, which grants the user enhanced intelligence, sight, strength, and even the ability to shoot razor sharp glass projectiles, but not without consequence.

AND THE POLITICS! I LOVE the politics between the guild families in the city of Ossa! I’m a big softie when it comes to vicious family rivalries, long held vendettas, and groups of powerful old geezers being outwitted by the upstart younger generation. It just warms my soul! 

Demir Grappo is at the forefront of that upstart younger generation when In the Shadow of Lightning begins. He’s barely past childhood and yet is leading a successful campaign against a rebelling territory until a traitorous miscommunication is sent out in his name to sack the city of Holikan. The Lightning Prince slips away into the outer territories for nine years, hiding from his mistakes and the event that broke him, only returning to Ossa when news that his mother was murdered reaches him. Demir finds himself the head of the Grappo guild family and thus responsible for their fortunes, properties, and retainers, but he also must find out who murdered his clever and compassionate mother AND take over the secret project she had begun. 

In order to complete these tasks, he gathers those he trusts most around him and here we are introduced to the other POV characters. Kizzie is a bastard daughter of the Vorcien clan and she’s currently out of favor, so when Demir offers her the opportunity to investigate Adriana Grappo’s murder rather than play beat cop she eagerly agrees. Not to mention, she, Demir, and Baby Montego have been close friends since childhood. Baby Montego is Demir’s adopted brother and world famous cudgeling champion (UFC, but fighters beat each other with cudgels). Montego is a terror to his enemies, adored by his fans, and will do anything for those he cares about. Then there’s Idrian Sepulki, a Breacher (human tank) who serves under Demir’s uncle in an engineering company of the Foreign Legion. Idrian is tough as forgeglass, and serves as the prime POV for the war between Grent and Ossa. He’s also slowly going mad as his witglass eye slowly loses its power. Lastly there’s Thessa, the only protege to a master siliceer (godglass developer) who was working with Demir’s mother to craft a phoenix channel. The phoenix channel was a theoretical design that could recharge godglass, which is quite important since the supply of material needed to craft it is running out.

There are so many layers to this story and Brian McClellan crafts and weaves these layers together in artful mastery. This book is a brilliant combination of detective work, war, and political intrigue much as with the original Powder Mage trilogy and frankly, it’s a combination I find totally addictive. It’s the ultimate combination of my favorite themes and the multiple POV characters bring everything together so seamlessly *chef’s kiss*. It was honestly tough to pick a favorite character, though Demir admittedly edges out the others just a smidge because I’m weak for overly competent, damaged characters. And boy-o, that ending was something else! The sudden appearance of eldritch horrors?? I am indescribably excited for the next book (currently my excitement level is at a frequency that could shatter glass). I’m about to go recommend this to every single person I know who actually reads books.

Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro – Review

Published: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Series: The Talents Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 672 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A stunning new work of historical fantasy, J. M. Miro’s Ordinary Monsters introduces readers to the dark, labyrinthe world of The Talents.

England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

With lush prose, mesmerizing world-building, and a gripping plot, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.

Far outside of Edinburgh is a mysterious estate called the Cairndale Institute, home to people dubbed “Talents”. They have all manner of abilities, from self-healing to the ability to craft golems from flesh and as one might expect, society isn’t all that fond of people with strange gifts. The proprietor of Cairndale is one Dr. Berghast, a Talent himself, who sends out those in his employ to track down Talents from all over the world. He’s looking for a particular boy, one who began his life at Cairndale but was kidnapped in the night and he might hold the key to their salvation. 

The story begins with Alice and Coulton tracking down rumors of Talents in America. One is Charlie Ovid, a young black boy who was sentenced to death, but who wouldn’t stay dead. The other is a mysterious glowing boy named Marlowe who’s been traveling with a small circus with his caretaker. As the two detectives make their way across the states, they realize they’re being followed by a dustworker who went rogue eight years ago and tried to steal away Marlowe from Cairndale. Time is of the essence and the race back to Cairndale begins!

There are powers at play beyond even the realm of the living. You see, Cairndale is home to a gateway to the spirit world and it’s beginning to crumble ever since the drughr, a powerful being bent on escape and destruction was aided by the dark dustworker Jacob Marber. There are several sections of flashback chapters that flesh out Jacob Marber and his motivation for assisting the drughr. Surprisingly, I found myself sympathizing with him and understanding his choices, for grief is a terrible thing to hold on to for so many years. These chapters also helped to introduce Ribs and Komako, two of the other young wards of Cairndale that Coulton and Marber picked up during their travels to Tokyo. 

This was an absolute tome of a book and it did take me a while to finish it (a solid week!) but I enjoyed every page. Imagine Victorian X-Men with a dollop of Harry Potter themes mixed in for good measure. Marlowe and Jacob Marber have sort of a Harry Potter and Voldemort vibe going on, plus you have a magical school setting in Scotland and a group of kids who get up to endless mischief. I’m sure you can see the parallels! I particularly loved Ribs (whose name is actually Eleanor) thanks to her roguish nature and the total abuse of her ability to become invisible. I mean, she’s constantly snooping around or playing pranks with her ability, which is completely and totally how anybody would use that ability.

Overall, this was an excellent read with a perfectly gloomy setting and creepy villains. J.M Miro wrote some incredible, edge-of-your-seat action scenes and some equally suspenseful scenes. I have to say, I’m going to be counting down the days until the second book is released thanks to the ending!

For the Throne by Hannah Whitten – Review

Published: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Wilderwood #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 496 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The First Daughter is for the Throne
The Second Daughter is for the Wolf…

Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally–though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again–the rogue king Solmir.

Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.

For the Wolf was a strong favorite in 2021 and left readers with somewhat of a cliffhanger ending. Red embraced the Wilderwood’s power, but her sister Neve was taken by one of the Five Kings into the Shadowlands and she appeared to be dead. Of course she wasn’t dead as Neve is the main character of this installment. I was very much looking forward to learning more about the Shadowlands and its dark denizens and I was not disappointed in that regard!

The Shadowlands are crumbling and with their fall, the remaining four kings will be released to rain destruction down upon the world. Neve and Solmir (who is not all that bad, but perhaps holding something back) form a tentative alliance to foil their plans and return Neve to the living world. I’ll be honest, I had my fingers crossed for Neve to be a glorious dark goddess of destruction and for a whole, satisfying romantic arc with Solmir. My wishes were not exactly granted… and for that I will be forever saddened. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story but I didn’t connect to Neve and Solmir in the way that I did with Red and Eammon. I liked that Neve’s story was one of the strong bonds of sisterhood and working through her demons and it wasn’t focused just on a dark and broody hot guy. 

The scenery was great – giant bone mountains, the corpses of almost-gods littering the land, and the dark mirror of the overworld aspect. The denizens of the Shadowlands were terrifying too. I mean, one of them has the corpse of his lover preserved and another was like, part spider. So many cool things that theoretically should have made me love this book, but it simply never clicked with me. I hate to say it but I just didn’t like Neve or Solmir that much. They were a bit cold and flat and this book struck me as more plot driven than the first book. Everyone, even Red and Eammon had a task to complete and the focus was far more on the steps needed to complete those tasks than any developing emotions.

Overall, it was a good story but I preferred the first book. There was a new character added in, which ultimately made sense at the end of the book, but it felt like she was there purely to make certain things work more smoothly. She could have been removed entirely and I wouldn’t have missed her. Despite my somewhat lukewarm feelings towards this, I actually really liked the ending because it was bittersweet and not a Disney-esque happily ever after.  Without a doubt I will be picking up future books by Hannah Whitten because she has a brilliant imagination and the world she’s created in the Wilderwood series is way cool.

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch – Review

Published: March 1, 2011

Publisher: Del Rey

Series: Rivers of London #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 288 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

The song.

That’s what apprentice wizard and London Metropolitan Police Constable Peter Grant first notices when summoned to the local morgue to view the corpse of Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. He, along with Scottish pathologist Dr. Abdul Haqq Walid, hears the distinct notes of an old jazz standard emanating from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not as normal as it might first have seemed, since only something supernatural leaves such an imprint.

Body and Soul.

They’re also what Peter will risk, as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last practicing Newtonian wizard in England, and the questionable assistance of voluptuous but old-fashioned jazz groupie Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep, with an unexpected connection to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

This is shaping up to be an extremely short, almost mini review but I don’t really have too much to say about this second installment in the Rivers of London series.

When Peter Grant investigates the death of a jazz musician and catches a whiff of magic,  he jumps to the only possible conclusion. Jazz vampires. No kidding, though he does venture the possibility that it was just an overdose before he goes to that extreme. This case is near and dear to him since his father is a renowned (though sort of retired) jazz musician himself and Peter needs to find out what’s going on so his pops doesn’t drop dead too.

Moon Over Soho was another enjoyable installment in the Rivers of London series and the overarching plot is ramping up. While the books seem to carry on with their episodic nature, there is a “big baddie” introduced during Moon Over Soho who (I think) will play a big role throughout the series. Peter Grant’s narration continues to make me absolutely roll with laughter and the more serious notes hit just right as well. While the individual books aren’t quite hitting the bar to be new favorites, I think the series will be an overall win for me! Can’t wait to check out the third book in the near future!

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow – Review

Published: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Tordotcom

Series: Fractured Fables #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 144 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A Mirror Mended
 is the next installment in USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s Fractured Fables series.

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?

Years after the events of A Spindle Splintered, Zinnia Gray is still interrupting fairytales to save all the variations of Sleeping Beauty. Her friends are moving on with their life and mostly just keep a spare room for Zinnia for the brief times when she pops out of an alternate universe long enough to stop in.What Zinnia hasn’t quite had the heart (or time) to tell them, is that she’s still dying but she’s not keeping up with her doctor’s appointments or her medications. She’s still been granted years past her original expiration date, so she’s out to do some good. Or maybe she’s just avoiding the subject by staying away.

This time, the Sleeping Beauty story is rather different and next thing you know, Zinnia’s touched a mirror and gets yanked through into none other than a Snow White tale. She was entirely unprepared for PLOT TWIST and she’s also been tied up by the evil queen. You see, the nameless evil queen ended up with Zinnia’s book of fairytales (multiversal disturbances) and has seen how her story ends – it’s bad and she wants out and Zinnia’s going to help her find a way. This is something Zinnia understands to a disturbing degree because she’s wanted nothing more than to find a way out of her own tragic story.

This is the fairytale version of Multiverse of Madness and I loved it. Perhaps not quite as much as the first book, which was shockingly good, but A Mirror Mended was an epically fun (and also kind of disturbing) exploration of the Snow White variations. The thing is, I don’t usually like novellas this much because I feel they leave me wanting for more, but both of these so far have been the perfect length with just the right amount of detail, emotion, and characterization packed in. I don’t know for sure if there will be a third book, but there’s certainly room for more stories and more fairytale worldhopping.

Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater – Review

Published: June 28, 2022 (paperback)

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Regency Faerie Tales #1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

The Regency romance with fairies that I’ve always needed in my life. This was so much fun I read it in a single sitting. I mean, I was trapped on a plane at the time but I had a Kindle full of other books and there was no way I was putting this one down. It was addictive and delightful and the romance made my heart sing!

Theodora Ettings, or Dora as she prefers to be called, is not your average young lady as she only has half a soul thanks to a spiteful faerie lord ripping part of it out when she was a child. This has resulted in Dora having an unusually cool head in all situations and well, let’s just say she’s not easily offended because she doesn’t feel too much of anything. When her lovely cousin dashes off to London for the season Dora comes along as her steadfast and loyal friend, not planning to ever find someone to marry. Until of course she comes across the Lord Sorcier, Elias Wilder who’s rude and brash, but who has a shockingly pure, good heart underneath it all and Dora finds that perhaps she could love someone after all.

For me, this was the perfect mix of fantasy and romance without being predictable. Dora isn’t a swooning heroine to be swept off her feet at the first sight of a handsome man. She’s quite unusual compared to the other ladies because she’s simply unflappable, though Dora recognizes that perhaps sometimes she should be offended or upset. The Lord Sorcier, Elias Wilder, is a man well known to be of unpleasant temperament to the lords and ladies he’s forced to socialize amongst. He’s actually a wonderful, caring man who works himself far too hard and on too little sleep in an effort to improve the lives of those society has forgotten. His dearest friend, Albert (a doctor), is the third son of a noble family who served with Elias during the war and he and his family now run orphanages. All in all, the main cast of characters are wonderfully good people even if Elias is prickly most of the time. 

This was a cozy, comfortable read with fairly low stakes and a nice, clean romance. This would be entirely appropriate for younger teen readers since there isn’t any graphic/smutty content, but the appeal is there for any fan of wholesome romance stories! I can’t wait to pick up the second book, Ten Thousand Stitches, which features a new main character and the return of at least one character who made a brief appearance in Half A Soul.