The C.K. Beggan Bookish Blog

The C.K. Beggan Bookish Blog

Welcome to The C.K. Beggan Bookish Blog! If you’re looking for your next read, titles are listed alphabetically and divided by indie and traditional publishing. (If you look closely enough, you may even find some non-fantasy books.) And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the author interviews and special features, which include book lists by theme!

Independently Published Books: C.K. Beggan‘s Indie Book Spotlight

Fiction

Reviews of the best (and my favorite) fantasy and speculative fiction novels I’ve come across so far, all by indie authors.

Atheist’s Angel (Anna Velfman)

Avalanche (Anna Velfman)

Between Jobs (W.R. Gingell)

Bride of the Shadow King (Sylvia Mercedes)

The Cracked Slipper (Stephanie Alexander)

The Crown Plonked Queen (Andrew Einspruch)

The Cursebound Thief (Megan O’Russell) 

Cursed (Callie Pey) – live 11/15/22

A Darkness at the Door (Intisar Khanani)

The Daughter of Earth (Callie Pey)

Daughter of Shades (Silvia Mercedes)

Droplets of Magic (Emily Bybee)

The Eastie Threat (Andrew Einspruch)

An Enchantment of Thorns (Helena Rookwood & Elm Vince)

Enchanting Fate (Ashley Evercott)

The Fool and the Sparrow (Dana Fox) – coming soon

The Fox and the Briar (Chesney Infalt)

Frozen Hearts and Death Magic (Day Leitao)

Guardian of Talons and Snares (Anastasis Blythe)

Heart of Cinders (J. Darlene Everly)

Her Dreadful Will (Rebecca F. Kenney)

Icedancer (Anna Velfman)

The Lily Gate (Hanna Sandvig) – coming soon

Maiden of Candlelight and Lotuses (Anastasis Blythe)

Married by Fate (Jenny Hickman)

Married by War (Sarah K.L. Wilson)

Married by Wind (Angela J. Ford)

Music of the Night (Angela J. Ford)

Of Heists and Hexes (S.L. Prater)

Of Roses and Rituals (S.L. Prater)

Of Silver and Secrets (Sylvia Mercedes)

Of Smoke and Shadow (Ophelia Wells Langley) – coming soon

Phoenix Heart, Season One, Episode One: Ashes (Sarah K.L. Wilson)

The Prince and the Poisoner (Helena Rookwood)

A Promise of Thorns (Helena Rookwood & Elm Vince)

The Purple Haze (Andrew Einspruch)

Rise of the Fire Queen (Alisha Klapheke)

The Road to Farringale (Charlotte E. English)

Stolen by the Shadow King (Alisha Klapheke)

Sunbolt (Intisar Khanani)

Spindle (W.R. Gingell)

Sting Magic (Sarah K.L. Wilson)

Snowblind (Anna Velfman)

Tapestry of Night (Elm Vince)

The Thief and the Throne (Helena Rookwood)

A Trial of Thorns (Helena Rookwood & Elm Vince)

Throne of Sand (Helena Rookwood & Elm Vince)

To Carve a Fae Heart (Tessonja Odette)

Twelve Days of Faery (W.R. Gingell)

Warrior of Blade and Dusk (Anastasis Blythe) – 11/18/22

Wish Marked (Lissa Bolts) 

Wizardom Legends: Thief for Hire (Jeffrey L. Kohanek) – coming soon

Nonfiction

Traditionally Published Books: Reviews of All My Favs

My favorite books in the fantasy, noir, literary and speculative fiction genres that have been released by traditional publishers.

Author Interviews: One Author to Another

A new category! In which I do my best to pose thoughtful questions to some of my favorite indie authors.

Anastasis Blythe, live October 1, 2022 – 11 Questions with Anastasis Blythe, author of Guardians of Talons and Snares

Chesney Infalt, June 3, 2022 – 10 Questions with Chesney Infalt, author of The Fox and the Briar

Anna Velfman, April 15, 2022 – 10 Questions with author Anna Velfman, author of Snowblind

Andrew Einspruch, May 25, 2021 – Questions with the hilarious, award-winning author of The Light Bearer

Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince, April 10, 2021 – Questions with the co-authors of An Enchantment of Thorns

Special Features: Authors, Books and Writing

From Ask an Indie Author to trivia to Book Lists, find blog posts featuring by topic, writing tips andIndie Author Spotlights.

Indie Author Spotlight: Tessonja Odette – August 2022

Of Thieves and Shadows cover reveal! (BOMM tour) – live 8/23/22

Rise of the Fire Queen is here! (Book News) (8/7/22)

Ask an Indie Author with Ashley Evercott – How I make my book covers shine on social media? (7/15/22)

Indie Author Spotlight: Anthea Sharp – June 2022

Six of Crows month content (June 2022)

8 Fantasy Books with Delicious Cliffhanger Endings (Including Six of Crows)

9 Fantastic quotes from the Six of Crows duology

10 Books to read after Six of Crows

Kaz Brekker and my Fjerdan heist level character hangover

Trivia: Do You Know Kaz Brekker?

Trivia: How well do you know Six of Crows?

Trivia: How well do you know the Six of Crows duology characters?

From Storm and Shadow cover reveal! (BOMM tour) – 5/30/22

16+ Awesome Asian-Inspired Fantasy Worlds – 5/27/22 – A book list with settings from the Middle East to the Pacific Islands

Weaver cover reveal! (BOMM tour) – 5/10/22

Vow of the Shadow King cover reveal (BOMM tour) – 5/4/22

A Throne of Shadows Cover reveal! (BOMM tour) – 4/28/22

A Darkness at the Door cover reveal – 4/22/22 – in which I discuss the Dauntless Path series and reveal the fabulous cover

Retellings to Thrill Any Fantasy Reader – A complete list of fairy tale and classic book retellings I’ve reviewed on the blog

Supporting Diversity in Fantasy – A mission statement for the blog, plus links to authors who feature diverse characters in their work

Lessons from Bestsellers Part I (Using Contrast to Create Depth) – Learning from Hannah and Leo in The German Girlby Armando Lucas Correa

Lessons from Bestsellers Part II (Using Contrast to Create Depth) – A look at the many sides of Ali in S.A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass

Lessons from Bestsellers Part III (Using Contrast to Create Depth) – A mystery and a terrible truth rounds out Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water

5 Awkward Situations to Make Your MC Shine – Examples of awkwardness that endear main characters to readers in some of my favorite books

The Fool and the Sparrow review

A review of The Fool and the Sparrow, by Dana Fox

(Arcana of the Tarot #1)

Steamy romantic fantasy

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book contains graphic love scenes and real-world violence, and is for mature readers only.

The Fool and the Sparrow is anything but ordinary.

Lyrical opening chapters from Kit, the actual Fool in the tarot deck living in the realm of Arcana, collide with the perspective of Thea, a trained assassin on the streets of Las Vegas. It’s amusing and surprising. The scenes in which Thea comes to terms with Kit’s supernatural self are particularly well-executed.

These two are drawn to each other by the universe. Their romance develops quickly and Kit makes Thea feel safe at last. But she also knows that feeling is fleeting: she’s trying to uncover the secret global organization that trained her.

If you like incredibly steamy, graphic love scenes, The Fool and the Sparrow has plenty for you. I felt like the ratio of romantic moments to love scenes was a bit too skewed for me by the end, but that’s my personal taste. (I like a more generous helping of romantic moments.)

Overall, this was a creative and completely different romance with action and tension besides. I read through it quickly!

My rating:
4/5
The Fool and the Sparrow book cover mockup, surrounded by fall leaves, a velvet pumpkin and a shining acorn lantern

Warrior of Blade and Dusk review

A review of Warrior of Blade and Dusk

(The Zheninghai Chronicles #2)

Other books in this series:
Maiden of Candlelight and Lotuses (#0)
Guardian of Talons and Snares (#1)

romantic fantasy, Eastern-inspired fantasy, clean romantic fantasy

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

If your favorite parts of Guardian of Talons and Snares were the pursuit on the road and the developing, complicated romance between Aranya and Kai, you will love book two, Warrior of Blade and Dusk, as much as I did.

This was such a fun, exciting and satisfying conclusion. Truly action-packed, it takes the best parts of book one and amplifies them. Kai, for one, has softened a lot, without losing too much of his sparky edge. (Though we do see him requesting snuggles!)

The romance also kicks into high gear on this one. Araya also stays her plucky self, but continues to strengthen mentally. I love that an action and romance-forward story focuses so much on its character’s psychological development.

Though the series continues with the story of Princess Meiling, there were some scenes suggesting interesting storylines to come. I’m really looking forward to it!

My rating:
5/5

Cursed review

A review of Cursed, by Callie Pey

(A novella of The Dryad Chronicles)

Steamy fantasy romance, The Little Mermaid retelling, fantasy novella

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is a steamy open door fantasy romance for mature readers 18+ only.

It’s so nice to be back in Voreios, a land of mythology and community. It’s also a place where multiple mates are both fated and common, giving us another steamy MMF romance.

What I love most about Callie Pey’s work is the loving spirit each story contains. It keeps all the steam from feeling tawdry, with love scenes that often celebrate the bond. Cursed really captures the joy of finding who you’re meant to be with after wondering if you’d always be alone.

There are also The Little Mermaid-retelling vibes! The undersea world was interesting and made for a great climax to the story. Since this story ties into the Dryad Chronicles, there are some series spoilers, so be forewarned!

I enjoyed reading this novella and getting to know its characters.

My rating:
4.5/5
Cursed, by Callie Pey: A mockup surrounded by leaves and a cinnamon candle

Wish Marked review

A review of Wish Marked, by Lissa Bolts

(Stones & Curses #1)

Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure

slow-burn romance, portal realms, fae, jinn and other fantasy creatures

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

This book was a slam dunk for me! A smart-mouthed, resilient narrator, a magic underworld with dashes of both romantic fantasy and portal fantasy, AND a canine sidekick? Yes, please! I absolutely loved Wish Marked.

Fans of W.R. Gingell’s The City Between series (see my review of Between Jobs) will enjoy this one. Parts of it also reminded me of Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star, plus Holly Black’s The Book of Night (though despite its stakes, Wish Marked manages to be less grim and gritty). This is a smart urban fantasy with interesting, hidden realms and a unique take on jinn and their magic.

One thing to consider: there is one heck of a cliffhanger at the end (the fun kind, though, that teases what the rest of the series will bring). I was thoroughly entertained by this read and have already preordered book two.

My rating:
5/5
Wish Marked cover

The Cursebound Thief review

A Review of The Cursebound Thief by Megan O'Russell

(The Fracture Pact #1)

Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure

fantasy heist, vampires, fantasy creatures, multi-POV

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

The Cursebound Thief is advertised as a good pick for Six of Crows fans (you can read about my Kaz Brekker obsession here) and it very much delivered for me! This book is all about suspense and the characters’ personalities. Just watch out for that darn cliffhanger that spoils some of the fun!

Full of snappy banter and extraordinarily well-balanced scenes with several speakers, this magical heist tale is set in the real world in modern times. Though I didn’t have a good sense of some of the characters’ personalities at first, overall they were distinctive and each character had their own way of interacting with the others. The perspectives were also balanced enough that I felt like I got to know everybody, though some secrets still lurked under the surface.

The stakes in The Cursebound Thief (mend the Fracture that seemingly destroyed magic) are set early, and the elaborate plot and road trip had me hooked. I only wish it had ended in a different place, though I guessed the cliffhanger was coming. This was a fun read with a complex world and lovable cast.

Now where is that book two?!

My rating:
4.5/5
The Cursebound Thief Mockup with autumn decorations

The Hacienda review

A review of The Hacienda, by Isabel Canas

May 3, 2022

Horror, Speculative Fiction, Historical Fiction

forbidden romance, ghost story, haunting

This book hit all the right notes for me: historical, horror, ghost story and slow-burn romance. From the very beginning of this story, I wanted main character Beatriz to RUN from that house.

The Hacienda was enjoyable to read and full of lastingly creepy imagery (that scene with the doors slamming!). The romantic aspect was unexpected but almost felt logical, despite the danger. The good characters are oh-so human and sympathetic and the bad…I’ll leave you to figure them out. Note also that the story came to a close in a somewhat unusual place, so expect an open ending that will leave you with a sigh.

I highly recommend this book for spooky season, or a good entertaining scare that (probably) won’t cause you to lose sleep at night, unless you’re up reading late. That being said, I now think twice anytime I see glowing eyes at night (definitely a cat, right?!) or catch an optical illusion in the darkness.

My rating:
4.5/5

Spooky Season Reads

Spooky Season Reads for Halloween

Did you know Halloween is just the start of the spirits rising? In Irish tradition, from which Halloween (aka Oiche Samhain) originated, it was the day that marked the start of the dark half of the year. What we associate with October 31st happened every day for the next 6 months (minus the fun celebratory stuff).

October is a great month for indulging in horror films and spooky reads. But in the spirit (oh, puns!) of that tradition, here are some reads that will keep that spooky feeling going long after Halloween

(Besides my spicy The Legend of Sleepy Hollow retelling, Lord of the Hollow Courtof course! I mean I couldn’t not put in a little self-promo. I’m done now though, I swear!)

Caution: Some content may not be appropriate for all viewers/readers.

  1. The Year of the Witching, by Alexis Hendersen. Don’t go into the woods, Immanuelle! They’re full of witches…and her fate.

  2. The Hacienda, by Isabel Cañas. (review coming soon.) I loved this book and all its classic horror moments. From the time Beatriz arrives at her new home, I wanted to yell at her to run. Something is very, very wrong at the hacienda, and nobody wants to talk about it.

  3. Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho. Delve into the supernatural in this contemporary urban fantasy with an LGBTQ lead and plenty of interruptions from deities–including the main character’s recently deceased grandmother.

  4. Dracula, by Bram Stoker. To me, this is the ultimate horror novel! That ghost ship, though. *shivers* If you haven’t read this one yet, do yourself a favor. It’s also in the public domain, so you can find yourself a free copy!

  5. Conjure Women, by Afia Atakora. From slavery to reconstruction, what people can do to each other is the true horror. There’s also a peculiar child born into the settlement of former slaves in this story that jumps between time periods. There’s something spooky about those woods, and a constant feeling that something terrible is going to happen.

  6. Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Cassiopea Tun just met the Mayan God of Death–and he needs her help, whether she likes it or not. This story has surprising romance and plenty of heart as Cassiopea makes her journey across Mexico.

  7. Frozen Hearts and Death Magic, by Day LeitaoNecromancers, wicked magic users and curses, oh my! This is for those who like a big helping of romance with their spooky reads.

  8. Daughter of Shades, by Sylvia MercedesA venatrix, responsible for evicting demons, strikes out on her own with her wolf familiar, only to be forced to compete for a job and deal with dark magic way beyond her abilities.

  9. For the Wolf, by Hannah WhittenTalk about spooky forests! The Wilderwood is semi-sentient and very magical. It also drinks the blood of those who keep it. With the threat of the trapped, wicked kings below and a character delving into dark magic for both the right and wrong reasons, this one hasplenty of spooky flavor.

  10. Of Roses and Rituals, by S.L. PraterFor fans of steamy romance, this one has a main character with some demons to contend with, literally and figuratively. As Fiona tries to help a cursed doctor keep demons from the mountains, she can’t resist wanting to be closer to him.
Of Roses and Rituals Mockup with fall decor

That’s it for my list! What books do you love to read during spooky season? If you have a recommendation, comment below!

Of Roses and Rituals review

A review of Of Roses and Rituals, by S.L. Prater

Steamy fantasy romance, fantasy retelling; October 24, 2022

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is for mature readers, with steamy open door romance, and also deals with grief/the death of a child and a fiancé)

I thought this Beauty and the Beast retelling was incredibly well-plotted and an enjoyable read. While it is very (very!) spicy and steamy, author S.L. Prater took the time to show her characters connecting intellectually and emotionally instead of just relying on the fated mates trope. Of Roses and Rituals also has some fun horror elements and surprising depths.

Both Fiona and her love interest, Elias, are dealing with grief. Elias has had time to acknowledge and cope with his, while Fiona has tamped hers down. The treatment of grief here is honest and thoughtful.

Of Roses and Rituals Mockup with fall decor

Of Roses and Rituals also touches on body image, with the message that everyone deserves to be loved and feel attractive. It’s an extreme case, of course (a curse has changed Elias’s body to that of satyr-like beast), but I thought it worked and deepened the characters’ connection. The action parts were also smoothly worked into the plot and pleasantly spooky.

This was a very well-rounded steamy romance and a great addition to the Kriegspiel world.

My rating:
4.5/5

To learn more about this author, visit streetwitch.net.

Married by War review

A review of Married by War, by Sarah K.L. Wilson

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

What a beautifully written story, and the darkest in the series so far. Full of grim depictions of war and its effects on those fighting it, Married by War has its Goose Girl moments in the plot and no shortage of heartbreaking scenes. But dog lovers should be careful! My heart still aches when I think back on certain scenes.

The cover of Married by War, surrounded by fall leaves and lights

There were so many wonderfully written lines in the book that I highlighted, most of them full of the heartache of its characters. The romance is born of genuine shared kindness and humanity amidst a lot of darkness, and I very much rooted for the two narrators.

I think it’s not a spoiler at this point to say these are all HEAs in the series, and this one is incredibly hard-won. My heart still aches a little after this one, but it was also so gorgeous, like finding a bit of goodness after wading through dark times.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about this author, visit sarahklwilson.com.