Book Talk

This is the place for book reviews and book-related round-ups or lists. I read all sorts of things, but book reviews here will mostly be of the science fiction, fantasy, YA, historical fiction, or contemporary fiction variety. My reviews are based on a) how much I enjoyed reading a book and b) the quality of the writing; there is not an exact balance or recipe for how I come up with my final rating, but those are the points I consider. Also, I read a LOT more books than I do full reviews on, so if you want the full rundown of activity, find me on Goodreads. You can also check out my list of Recommended Reads.




Recent Reads

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (who, me?) and wanted to catch you up on some of the highlights. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed recently:

Jane SteeleJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.
A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel follows the protagonist through similar life events: an uncaring aunt, abusive schoolmaster, refuge in a country house as a governess with a brooding master. There is one big difference, though – this Jane has escaped each horrid circumstance by killing her tormentor, leaving a trail of bodies behind her. Is she truly wicked, or a victim fighting back against cruelty? Will she unravel the mystery of her new home and find love, or will her past catch up with her? This was a wildly good read, entertaining and evocative of the literature it’s based off of. There’s a good bit of mystery, a good bit of romance, and a few unexpected bits. If you’re a fan of the original Jane Eyre, and murder mysteries, give this a go.
4/5 stars.
 

Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly MagicThe Dowser Series by Meghan Ciana Doidge.
Jade is a half-witch who just wants to run her bakery in peace. Her particular magic talent, though, is rare. When black magic, vampires and werewolves descend on her town, she finds herself right in the middle of it. And wondering what the non-witch half of her might be. This is a 6-book series that follows Jade through discovering who she is, dealing with some horrible stuff, and coming into her own. The books are all pretty short (in fact, books 1-3 could’ve been condensed into 1 book, and the same for books 4-6), and light, easy reads. The story is entertaining, and Jade is likable enough to keep you caring. I did get a little tired of some of the books’ gimmicks (overload on details about cupcakes, chocolate and shoes) and certain plot points were VERY predictable, but not enough to stop me reading. There’s good banter, plenty of romance, and a fun new twist on dragons. Overall, an enjoyable series. If you like urban fantasy with some sexy times, give this a go.
3/5 stars.
 

Fantasy of FrostThe Tainted Accords by Kelly St. Clare.
What do you get when two opposite worlds (one of fire, one of ice) loathe one another but depend on each other for survival? A very tenuous peace. When Olina (princess of the fire world) unexpectedly befriends Kedrick (prince of the ice world) during a peace delegation, she has no idea the events she’s about to set in motion. This 4-book series centers on Olina- her history with her mother, the secret behind her veil, her journey to independence and identity, and (of course) the fate of the two worlds. It’s got something for everyone: romance, adventure, intrigue, danger, mystery and some surprises thrown in for good measure. While Olina occasionally annoyed me with her reactions to certain situations, it was in line with her character and history. The supporting characters are really well done. The banter is excellent. The world-builing is unique, and the dichotomy it sets up between the two cultures is interesting. While the covers might lead you to believe there is magic, there is not. This is a fantasy in the sense of fictional worlds. But if you like YA with resistance plotlines and slow-growth romance, give this series a try.
Bonus: this whole series available for free through Kindle Unlimited, if you have that.
4/5 stars.
 

Never say I don’t read enough women authors and women protagonists. 😆

What have you been reading lately?
 

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Book Review: The Bone Witch

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco. Tea finds out her magic isn’t like the other witches in her family in a decisive and unexpected way: she inadvertently raises her brother from the dead. This marks her as a bone witch, with power over death rather than one of the more common elements. She’s apprenticed to an older bone witch and moves to a training house in the city, to learn control over her powers and the duties of an asha (a powerful warrior witch that also functions something like a geisha). Her brother (her familiar) accompanies […]

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Book Review: Updraft

Updraft (Bone Universe #1) by Fran Wilde. In a city high above the clouds, Kirit dreams of finally earning her wings. Flyers are the lifeblood of the city, and she longs to be a trader alongside her mother. A breach of the city’s rules, however, sees her instead conscripted into the Singers, the secretive governing body. She discovers that not only is there more to the city and its history than she’s been taught, but there’s more to her own history (and abilities) than she imagined as well. A dangerous secret and divides with the Singers’ Spire itself lead Kirit […]

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Book Review: Chasing Embers

Chasing Embers (Ben Garston #1) by James Bennett. What if all of our myths were true? When humanity started to really dominate the planet, the creatures of legend and folklore banded together to form the Pact. In order to escape humanity’s notice (and persecution), only one individual of each kind of creature would be allowed to remain, the others passing into a Sleep until the day a lasting peace might be achieved. The Remnants who stayed awake agreed to keep a low profile, not fight one another, and help enforce the Pact on any who broke it. Red Ben Garston […]

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Book Review: Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James. In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it’s becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed. Luke, a teenage boy, […]

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Book Review: Raven Song

Raven Song (Inoki’s Game #1) by I.A. Ashcroft. A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clinging to a few select cities, kept safe from radiation by their force field domes. Jackson is a legit businessman and less-legit smuggler, making ends meet and sailing through life. And it would be smooth sailing, except for some troubling dreams, hallucinations of extinct ravens, and his own finicky magic. Then a big government contract lands in his lap, and it’s too good to pass up. Except the cargo is not a thing, but a person. And she is definitely not normal, […]

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Book Review: Black Fall

Black Fall (The Black Year Saga #1) by D.J. Bodden. Jonas Black is your typical teenager- 16, with a girlfriend, school, and favorite playlists he can’t live without. Sure, he has a missing/dead father, and mother he barely sees, but no one is 100% normal, right? Then strange things start happening and he learns just how far from normal his family (and he) is. The world he thought he knew is really just the surface. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons – they are all real, and dangerous. And, of course, all balanced in an ongoing political struggle for power and […]

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