Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire is a stunning young adult novel, the first in a new trilogy, where girls show their heart and strength in a world that seeks to crush them beneath its feet. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, although this book does come with accompanying trigger warnings: There are several scenes of violence and a few scenes of sexual abuse in this novel. There is also violence against a dog. Please take care of yourself while reading this book. [Read more…]
Nicky Drayden’s second novel, Temper, is a skillfully crafted twist of virtue, vice, and tense sibling relationships. I devoured it in a single day, scrolling through the pages on my Kindle as fast as I could read them. Drayden’s engrossing world pulled me in and left me reeling from a vivid world filled with fascinating characters and a complex and engaging universe. There are twists and turns in Drayden’s intricate plots, but there are no dead-ends in this maze. [Read more…]
Catherine Faris King’s debut novel, The Ninety-Ninth Bride, is a beautiful retelling of the tale of Scheherazade, and the thousand and one nights of stories that kept a bride alive. But The Ninety-Ninth Bride is not directly about Scheherazade, the famed woman who tamed a king. Instead, King tells the story of Dunya, a young girl in a family that cares little for her, whose open heart and wide eyes make for a unique perspective on the events of those thousand and one nights.
Dunya is but 15 when she offers to help her father, and is given to the Sultan as his next bride in a string of murdered women. The Sultan has executed the last ninety-eight women he has married, driven mad by the betrayal of his first Sultana, and Dunya fears for the worst. But on her wedding night, Dunya is surprised to discover that there is another bride in the chamber—Zahra, who saves Dunya by telling the Sultan a tale each and every night, postponing the Sultan’s rage. But there is something bigger at work, infecting the land and causing troubles for humans and magical folk alike, and Dunya is determined to fix it, no matter the cost. [Read more…]
An Americanized retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, set in a future with advanced tech, disastrous civil war, and a diverse main cast, A Study in Honor creates a unique drama that twists the original overdone story into something new. With the leading characters transformed by sex and skin color, O’Dell puts a spin on your typical Sherlock and Watson partnership, and pulls you into a world of intrigue.
Dr. Janet Watson is fresh off the front lines of war, with a clumsy mechanical prosthesis that is too big for the delicate surgeon work she does best. With few prospects, and only one friend in D.C., Watson must make the best of a difficult situation. She gets a job, starts therapy, finds a flat and an accompanying flatmate—Sara Holmes, who is secretive, attractive, and, most of all, maddening. Just when everything has seemingly settled, one of Watson’s patients dies suddenly, and then her friend, another doctor on the front lines, dies as well. This sends Watson and Holmes on the path of a secret investigation, a military mission gone horribly wrong, and several more mysterious deaths. But what awaits them on the other end of their investigation could get them both killed if they’re not careful. [Read more…]
A fascinating tale of magic, beings of immense power and their unique governing system, and even Atlantis, The Last Sun is K.D. Edwards’ debut novel with Prometheus Books, which promises an engrossing trilogy to follow a solid beginning. With a court system based on tarot and the Major Arcana, powerful magics, and mythical dangers around every corner, Edwards brings a new Atlantis to life just off the coast of Massachusetts, and pulls readers into a twisted missing-person investigation that is covering up much more sinister plots.
Kill the Farm Boy is the literary love child of Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, who partnered up to create a fantastical, trope-skewering romp of a Pratchett-esque novel. That was a lot of words, but I promise they’re all accurate. Within the pages of Kill the Farm Boy, readers will find plenty of laughter and an abundance of interesting fairy tale problems, ranging from botched adventures to a nice-guy troll to a sand witch whose wand is the prettiest thing on the beach. Even when you think you’ve finally grasped their mischievous style, Dawson and Hearne surprise you again and again with unique villains and intense violence. A tale of the hero’s journey it may be, but the journey itself is not typical in the slightest. This book almost feels like a D&D campaign with a ridiculously imaginative DM and a fantastic group of players, and that’s the opposite of a bad thing. [Read more…]
Jade Mere’s debut work with Dreamspinner Press, The Architect and the Castle of Glass, takes readers on an adventure to a strange castle in a distant land, where the main character, Tahki, is faced with the greatest architectural challenge of his life, that may or may not lead him to love. A high fantasy novel with touches of steampunk that mix with fascinating class systems, The Architect and the Castle of Glass is a coming-of-age tale that follows a troubled path. And while it may not be a complete stunner, it’s a comfortable novel that has some great themes and a solid ending. [Read more…]
An adventure in the style of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, with a touch of paranormal and a healthy dose of easy sexuality, Song and Key is a fun romp through the countryside of Romania, following two secret agents on their mission to do their boss a favor. Alix Bekins and Connie Bailey partner up to write a classic secret-agents-on-a-mission book, easily read in a single afternoon.
Dakota Chase continues her young adult series, Repeating History, with Hammer of the Witch, returning to a contemporary world featuring magical, time-traveling shenanigans surrounding two teenagers.
To recap: In the first novel, The Eye of Ra, we met up with Aston and Grant at an unfortunate time in their lives. After a visit to juvenile court both boys are sentenced to a year at the Stanton Boys School, where their shenanigans intertwine after an incident in their history teacher’s office (which they manage to set fire to, destroying several priceless artifacts housed within). And it just so happens that their history teacher is the esteemed wizard Merlin. He-who-ran-with-King-Arthur, Merlin. Why the man would want to teach high schoolers is beyond me, but maybe he enjoys it. Aston and Grant have never been in this much trouble before, but an unlikely solution is found when they are tasked with going back in time and retrieving some of these artifacts for Merlin. In the first book Aston and Grant traveled back to Ancient Egypt in the times of King Tut, but the second book sends them back to medieval Europe, in the midst of the witch hunts.
Emily B. Martin’s trilogy of queens comes to an end with Creatures of Light, a breathtaking finale that ties up loose ends and left me aching for more even as I celebrated such a glorious end.
I call this series a trilogy of queens because each book is written from the perspective of a different, strong woman. In Woodwalker, we followed ranger Mae on her journey to reclaim her place in her home country. In Ashes to Fire, we watched Mona fight to keep her country free from their former conquerors. And in Creatures of Light, Gemma risks everything to preserve her dreams for her own country even as her country condemns her actions. [Read more…]