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 Rook

The Rook (The Checquy Files #1) by Daniel O’Malley. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies, with no memory and a strange letter in hand. Through information left by her pre-amnesia self, Myfanwy learns that a) she has special powers, b) she’s pretty high up in a secret organization, and c) someone inside it betrayed her. Thus kicks off a romp through the world of British secret intelligence- if supernatural threats were a real thing and there was a government division to deal with them. It’s one part spy thriller, one part mystery, one part action-adventure, […]

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Book Review: The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax tells the story of accident-prone 9-year-old Louis Drax, who is now in a coma. It’s told alternately from his point of view, and the point of view of the doctor hoping to wake him up. The story begins shortly after Louis’ most recent accident, which left him comatose and his father missing. The only awake and available person who knows what really happened is his mother. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that things are not as they seem – and not always explainable. […]

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Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1) by Zen Cho. What do you get if you mix 1 part Jane Austen style, 1 part historical fiction, 1 part mystery, a whole lot of magic, and a dash of playful absurdity à la Gail Carriger? This fun book. Sorcerer to the Crown tells the story of Zacharias Wythe, the Sorcerer Royal, tasked with the upkeep and oversight of England’s magic: practices, practitioners, and general levels. He’s new to the job and already has a few things against him. 1) He’s an emancipated slave in a world of white men. 2) He […]

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Book Review: City of Stairs

City of Stairs (The Divine Cities #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett. Disclaimer: City of Stairs does not actually feature stairs as much as you might think. What it does feature is a no-nonsense & brilliant spy, her hulking Nordic ‘secretary’, a handful of maybe-or-maybe-not-dead gods, a murder mystery, pocket alternate realities, magic-as-religious-act, and a whole host of interesting characters and political-bureaucratic tangles. In sum: it’s a full, fun read. The Continent, blessed by their 6 gods, used to be the most powerful empire in the world. Until a hero from Saypur (one of their colonies) managed to kill off the […]

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Book Review: Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. This is a great example of one of those times when picking up a book because of its cool cover really pays off. Annihilation is the first short book in a series about the mysterious Area X. It’s never stated directly, but the sense I get is that this takes place on Earth in the future. Area X is where some sort of Event happened, and humanity has let nature take that area back, keeping it walled off from civilization as best it can. Several expeditions have been sent in to map and study the area. […]

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Book Review: Revelation Space

Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1) by Alastair Reynolds. This was recommended to me by a friend back in August, and I finally got around to reading it. It tells the story, mainly, of one Dan Sylveste, an interstellar scientist bent on figuring out what happened to the long-dead Amarantin alien race. Something destroyed them almost a million years ago, and Sylveste has the more-than-nagging suspicion humanity is in danger of the same. He’s up against not just the clock, but also a scientific community that has lost faith in him, a less-than-human starship crew that has its own agenda, an […]

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