For the Wolf review

For readers who like their fairy tale retellings a little darker, For the Wolf should be high on your TBR list. Keep reading my For the Wolf review to find out why!

For the Wolf
As a second daughter in her country’s royal family, Redarys was born a sacrifice to the Wilderwood. Despite her twin’s best efforts, Red wants to accept her fate. A piece of the Wilderwood’s magic is in her already, and Red is sick of holding it back.
 
With themes of fanaticism and false religion (as well as a surprisingly large subplot of delightful romance), the power of nature, described here as neither good nor bad, squares off against dark, evil magic in For the Wolf. As Red’s twin tries to save her, profound grief becomes an obsession until twin is (unwittingly) pitted against twin.
For the Wolf book cover

The writing is equal parts plot and character driven and is dense with descriptive detail. It took a little getting used to for me, but there were many great lines and I appreciated that it delved into grief, actually making it a cornerstone of the plot. One caveat: this book is not for those squeamish about blood.

My favorite part of For the Wolf was the romance. The Wolf in question, Eamon, is almost literally set up with Red by the Wilderwood. Though they are essentially fated mates, the development of their relationship is gradual and sweet. Book two has very much earned its place on my own tbr.

My rating:
4.5/5

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

Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful (Vo)

A Review of The Chosen and the Beautiful, by Nghi Vo

In The Chosen and the Beautiful, the author of The Empress of Salt and Fortune loosely retells Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby through the eyes of a very different Jordan. This Jordan, who is identified in the book blurb as queer (though she never labels herself), was adopted by the religious but not exactly well-meaning Bakers of Louisville from Tonkin (Vietnam). The opening scene, in which Jordan and Daisy literally float around the latter’s mansion on a hot summer day, positions The Chosen and the Beautiful on a creative, magical path that kept me turning pages.

Jordan occupies a ritzy and often lonesome world shaped by magic, parties, demons and xenophobia. Add to this her mysterious ability to make cut paper come to life and The Chosen and the Beautiful becomes a completely unique book. Change the names and places, and it would be one.

“There are women who will forgive a great deal for a moment of kindness from a handsome man, but Daisy and the other older girls who had taken me under their wings had taught me not to be one of them.”

–Jordan in The Chosen and the Beautiful

In Vo’s world of dark magic and recreational demon’s blood, the relationship between Daisy and Jordan is as complex as Jordan’s relationship with her country. Daisy leans on Jordan for unending support, often at great cost. Jordan, with the blasé attitude that helps her survive in a strict home and a city with few people who look like her, goes along with what Daisy wants, and often seeks out her companionship. Her involvement with Daisy’s tangled affairs becomes inevitable.

Certain scenes from The Great Gatsby are dropped into The Chosen and the Beautiful with faithfulness. Other intrusions by Gatsby, who may have sold his soul to attain wealth instead of becoming a bootlegger, take on a shape unique to the book.

Vo’s Gatsby himself is queer (again, no labels in the actual text), and something of a cad despite his love for Daisy; when Jordan meets him a magically hidden club where members of the LGBTQ community can be themselves, she isn’t shy about pointing out Gatsby’s recent encounter with a “rent boy” in crude terms. He sets his sights on Nick, too, putting him at instant odds with Jordan.

Gatsby’s other relationships and liaisons make his declaration of love for Daisy feel forced, but also color it as the obsession Fitzgerald may have intended it as (the original Gatsby has a naive quality, despite being a World War I veteran and a bootlegger, and though he never appears ruthless like Vo’s Gatsby, his innocence and belief in true love is more of a wish to turn back time than a reality). The scene where Gatsby knocks over the clock is even included in Vo’s version, though how he gets to Nick’s house is far messier and more awkward.

Needless to say, Nick’s character is also different. His relationship with Jordan is closer—Vo’s Jordan is also less detached, and less on a society pedestal, than Fitzgerald’s Jordan, making the attachment natural—though it’s no secret that Nick sees other people when he’s not with her. She does, too, but has far more feelings about his lack of devotion that he does, hinting at her vulnerability even as she claims she doesn’t care. I thought the eventual big reveal about Nick’s personality and nature effective and moving. Coupled with Jordan’s reaction, it made the book for me.

Vo also delves into other long-standing societal problems (namely xenophobia and racism), leaving immigrant Jordan, who is essentially a Dreamer, in a bad and unexpected position. Her interactions with other Vietnamese paper magicians are uncomfortable and leave her feeling like an outsider in two different cultures. Jordan also admits to avoiding Chinatown and other people who look like her, preferring to be a novelty on her own while fearing how white Americans, many of whom are hoping to expel foreigners with a pending bill, would view her in a cluster of Asian immigrants.

Jordan is really the best part of The Chosen and the Beautiful—and to be honest, I think she deserved her own story without Gatsby butting in, a tale inspired by The Great Gatsby rather than a retelling. By The Chosen and the Beautiful‘s poignant end, I wish there had been more Jordan, and maybe no Gatsby at all.

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

Indie Book Spotlight: Tapestry of Night (Vince)

In a world where only one late-bloomer can save her people from a terrible fate, the time has come…for another Indie Book Spotlight!

Tapestry of Night Review Graphic

The opening chapter of Elm Vince’s Tapestry of Night shows us that fate can be written in the stars—if those stars are charted properly. Thanks to the Stellar Sisters of Celestial Devotion, Cassia is an expert of making natal star charts, and she has an “uncanny intuition” to go with it.

Eventually, Cassia entrusts the reader with the exciting secret that she has the most unusual—and difficult to understand—prophesied fate of anyone. For a magically late-bloomer with no shortage of problems, there seem to be a lot of important roles heading Cassia’s way. Too many, in fact, to be solved in one book.

Which is why I need the next book.

This is Elm Vince’s debut solo series (Vince co-authored the Desert Nights series with Helena Rookwood). Teasers aside, Tapestry of Night really hit all the right notes for me. The tone isn’t overly dark and depressing, the truly bad guys are creepy, the love interests are unlikely and there’s a truly loveable alchemist to boot. The spy plotline is put to very good use. It reminds me of Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire (Mistborn series). Fans of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series will probably love it, too.

There are a lot of details in the opening chapters about monstrous snatchers, mysterious nuns in astrology-themed convents, and a few types of magic. The backstory and said details are never piled on, but carefully set the stage for a riveting story in which the stars are nearly omnipresent. Tapestry of Night is literally and figuratively dark from the beginning, with warm characters and fanciful magic to light the way.

As the nature of the Governance is gradually explained to the reader, things get a whole lot darker. It’s illegal to be a mage in Myrsia, and those with a talent are taken by snatchers to become Governance slaves. They’re also fitted with alloy collars to restrict their magic. In the Governance’s eyes, magic is too dangerous, and the alloy makes it safe (but cruelly useable).

Unlikely spy: struggling to control new magic, Cassia must sneak away to “a quiet shadow in a city of light” in order to study with endearing alchemist Ptolemus.

And then there’s the Defiance. Hidden away in the Rust Desert, the Defiance is the last vestiges of the now-eradicated Guild’s magic-users, but signs of former glory exist in the capital, too. The glasshouses Cassia uses as a rendezvous point was once “created and tended to by the Guild’s earth-signers, housing exotic greenery from across Myrsia and beyond. Now they sit abandoned, the plants slowly trying to reclaim the building.” There’s a lot of horror and decay behind the capital’s pretty veneer.

Myrsia’s Governance is reliably crooked and pitiless (without any flat villains, just some blind ambition). But the Defiance may not be all they’re cracked up to be, either: after all, they kicked Cassia out as a girl, right after her father died on a mission, because she had no magic.

All that changes as Cassia wanders into adulthood. She has an empath’s gifts, but they refuse to work in the usual way. She can feel what others feel, not just sense it. And it’s pretty out of control besides.

Depending on whether she can learn to control her gift, Cassia just might be the Defiance’s perfect spy. But she has zero time to master it. With the life of a friend on the line, Cassia is about to head off to the capital with a fake identity, where she witnesses constant reminders of how important—and dangerous—her task is.

Eventually, as a side note, we hear there are fey out there somewhere, closed off in their own country across the sea. And for an unknown reason, the leader of the Governance is out there visiting them. This series has a whole lot of space to grow, with some interesting plot points set up for the next book.

The settings of Tapestry of Night are just as interesting, from a red desert to the peculiar convents to the inner bureaucratic chambers of the Governance. The Governance is sort of like evil Hogwarts at times, complete with its own wizarding ball.

On a copy editing note, the excess of commas can be looked past after a bit, so don’t let that stop you. This is a great take on magical “job classes” and a good late-bloomer story, too. Not to mention the spy-craft! I’ll be continuing with the series for sure.

The Bests and Mosts 2020: awards

Today, I want to recognize my favorite fantasy reads of 2020 (and encourage you to discover one of them yourself!). And I’ll be accomplishing that with these 11 awards show-style categories!

The Bests and Mosts 2020

In order to “win” (no prize other than my great esteem and respect), books must have been reviewed by me on the blog, Goodreads or Bookbub during the long happening that was 2020.

Without further ado, the award goes to…

Best Female Lead

Lira, The Prince and the Poisoner (Carnival of Fae #1), by Helena Rookwood. I love this sassy, self-serving yet likeable character, who lies, cheats and steals her way into readers hearts in The Prince and the Poisoner and its sequel, The Thief and the Throne. [My Review.]

Best Male Lead

Numair, Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles #1), by Tamora Pierce. Like a sensible Harry Potter, the much loved character of Numair from Pierce’s The Immortals trilogy grows up in a school surrounded by a river god, a leftover prince and no shortage of intrigue. Numair does all the normal adolescent boy things, even as he does the extraordinary. [Review available on Bookbub; coming soon to website.]

Best Storytelling

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1), by Tamora Pierce. There’s nothing like the story of a young girl better at swordplay than sorcery, who trades places with her twin and seeks to become a knight. Not only does Alanna make room for a different kind of girl in YA fantasy, but it’s absorbing from page one. Now and always, a classic. [My review.]

Best Plot Twist

Conjure Women, by Afia Atakora. “Twist” needs to be plural for this story, which probably fits best under the category of magical realism. Betrayals, terrible truths, and a vengeful lie sit at the heart of this book like jagged wire. The truth about Bean, a black-eyed child born with what might as well be a curse, is only one revelation in the story of a Black community during enslavement and after, and the midwife-plus-medicine-maker Rue who tries to keep it—and a few of the lies—from falling apart. [Review available on Bookbub; coming soon to website.]

Most Magical

The Prince and the Poisoner (Carnival of Fae #1), by Helena Rookwood. It’s hard to beat the fabulous magic carnival Lira runs away to (with a catch) in the first book in the series. (Sigh. Why doesn’t anything like it exist?) Add in magical objects left by the fae, and you can almost smell the burnt caramel. [My Review.]

Most Romantic 2020
Runner up: Spindle, by W.R. Gingell

Most Original

Sting Magic (Empire of War and Wings #1), by Sarah K.L. Wilson. The concept of familiars for magic-users gets new life in a world where something is very wrong in the forest, and most pressingly, with protagonist  *’s magic. When magic-users manifest, it’s supposed to be with an egg (soon be followed by a bird). But *’s angry magic is a pack of swarming bees (and sometimes a hopeful little golden bumble bee that just sounds cute). The magic system was fantastic. [My Review.]

Most Action-Packed

Daughter of Shades (The Venatrix Chronicles), by Silvia Mercedes. Young Ayeleth finds more than her fair share of trouble as she tries to become a full-fledged Venetrix. After a certain point in the book (about a third of the way in, I’d say), the action hardly ever pauses, and things get a whole lot spookier.  [My Review.]

Most Romantic

Snowblind (Pler Trilogy #1), by Anna Velfman. A wonderful romance between two young people occurs in the first half of the book that is somehow wholesome and nostalgic without being chaste. Icedancer is now on my Kindle but still on my TBR list, but something tells me there’s more to come, both with Lanna’s original love and a potential new (and much less romantic) suitor. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the cute farm boy! [My Review.]

Most Heartbreaking

A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water #1), by Bethany C. Morrow. A story of injustice, found family and lost ones, A Song Below Water doesn’t just share the two narrators’ feelings with the reader, it allows them to connect to them through universal truths: the need for family, true friendship, love, acceptance, and justice. And there’s one other essential right tying those needs together for Tavia and Effie: in a world where some magical beings are reviled and even killed, the friends-turned-sisters both seek the space not just to speak and be heard, but to be. [My Review.]

Most Satisfying

Spindle (Two Monarchies Sequence #1), by W.R. Gingell. This delightful, quirky and often outright funny book introduces Gingell’s special brand of enchanter/enchantresses. I can’t spoil anything, so I’ll just have to say that the ending feels just right. [My Review.]

Most Likely to be Read Twice

The Purple Haze, by Andrew Einspruch. This hilarious book has so many jokes and just-the-right-level-of-bad puns, I could hardly take them all in. Silly and endearing, the story of germophobe Princess Eloise and her quest to find her sister is the perfect read when in need of a pick-me-up. [My Review.]

That’s it for 2020. Congratulations to all the winners!

Review of The Year of the Witching (Henderson)

The Year of the Witching Book Review

The Year of the Witching (Bethel Series, 2020; HORROR, DARK FANTASY), by Alexis Hendersen 

Immanuelle isn’t like other girls in her puritanical and cult-like society of Bethel. For one thing, her mother emerged from the forbidden woods, where witches live, to give birth to her. The Prophet she tried to escape from is the very same one who reigns over Immanuelle, and her path is about to cross with his in the worst of ways.

The plot is kicked off by an ill-fated and long journey to the market, in which a runaway goat and the supernatural pull of the woods changes Immanuelle’s life forever. And it isn’t only that. Something is driving Immanuelle to go back to a heretical place full of dangerous magic and unseen forces. Despite everything she knows, she almost can’t resist. The mother she never knew lived there for months, after all—something that should have been impossible.

Witches aside, all is not well in Immanuelle’s tiny world of Bethel. The Prophet’s Haven is just about as frightening as the woods, if not more. Add an unlikely (and very dangerous) romance, plus the watchful (often leering) eye of the Prophet and there is a whole lot of trouble brewing—most of it centered on women.

Loose Ends: This beautifully descriptive debut novel doesn’t wrap up tidily. A second book in the Bethel series is due in 2021.

The Year of the Witching has plenty of creepy details and no shortage of descriptive words for blood. There are plagues, wicked prophets and undead witches, including one with a skull with antlers replacing the head she lost. It’s a fine mix of dark fantasy and horror. But there is an undercurrent of real-life social issues beneath it, and a strong theme of exploitation of young women (and the not as young).

Then there’s the descriptive writing, which was beautiful and often both chilling and perfect. I loved diving into Immanuelle’s tightly bound world.

Something was missing for me, though: the wrap-up after the climax. It left me wanting more, especially after days of page-turning, fabulous storytelling. It seemed to be setting up for a sequel. I closed the book with no idea of what happened to some of the characters, which was frustrating.

A sequel will arrive in 2021, however: The Dawn of the Coven. As of posting, there are scant details about it, so I can’t say whether it will continue Immanuelle’s story. Whatever it is, though, I will be eagerly waiting to read it. Henderson’s wonderful writing is just too good to be missed.

Indie Book Spotlight: Sting Magic (Wilson)

It’s time for another Indie Book Spotlight!

Note: I received a free advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sting Magic, the first book in the new Empire of War and Wings series by prolific author Sarah K.L. Wilson, is a typo-dotted triumph. There are three reasons for that: world-building, a unique magic system, and the fact that it is never boring.

Main character Aella lives in a wild colony, the Far Stones, where residents have freedom and hardships alike. They’re poor and backwards by Imperial standards, but most of their time is spent farming in a land that likes to turn upside down and murder them—the Forbidding, a strange, viney magic that corrupts trees and bears and whatever else it can find. Aella’s family is her everything.

And then the heir to the Empire shows up.

That’s when Aella finds out that she has the same winged, creative twist on familiars-style magic as the Empire’s most celebrated warriors. It’s a dream and a nightmare for her. Except, instead of having birds like literally everyone, Aella hatches golden, magical bees. Heresy!

Aella is forced to leave her family to become property of the ruthless Le Majest, Juste Montpetit. In the course of a few hours she loses everything, with only the warm glow of her cute and happy bee familiars to comfort her. Aella has a litany of horrors to face as she travels through a perilous land alongside violent Imperials, and more than few mysteries to solve as she tries to save her family and weighs joining the rebels.

Familiar magic: Readers will love to hate Sting Magic‘s ruthless villain and adore Aella’s bees.

Sting Magic is a shorter novel that moves at a brisk pace. The cozy but disgruntled domestic scenes at the beginning are the closest it ever gets to slow, plus the “let me barge in and spend a long time asserting my authority even though I clearly have other houses to get to” encounter with the cruel prince that immediately follows it. The latter scene could have been more concise and still left the reader wanting to punch Juste Montpetit if given the chance. He’s pure villain, but it works.

An early exchange with Ospey also feels a touch long, and there’s a bit of bouncing around the timeline here and there that can be confusing. But the high stakes for the main character, combined with the mysteries of her magical and dangerous homeland, keep things moving.

That being said, Sting Magic wasn’t fully my cup of tea. One of its biggest weaknesses is its main character, not a weak female MC at all but a broadly sketched one. Aella is more reactive than anything, and replies angrily to her captors when I would’ve expected a brooding, calculating silence, given her goals. She’s a contradiction that way, flying off the handle despite repeatedly being told she could endanger her family, the absolute last thing she wants. She doesn’t read like a person with a hot temper, either.

I was relieved when Aella finally did something proactive toward her goal, and it filled in some of her missing personality. Still, I left the book with only a weak sense of who she is. (I hope Aella will be fleshed out more in the rest of the series.)

One of the reasons Aella’s weak personality stands out so much is because the other characters are so well-rendered: the irredeemably villainous prince, Juste Montpetit; the snooty society gal who just might be a friend, Zayana; the mentor with the huge personality, Ivo; and Osprey, the toothpick-gnawing would-be ally she can’t fully trust. They are never described extensively (Osprey gets a little extra detail so you’ll know he’s handsome), but the things these characters say and do gave me a clear picture of them and their personalities.

The magic system and world-building of Sting Magic are, of course, superb. I wished the writing was a bit more polished (those typos and repetitive phrases!), but the interesting world Wilson created kept me turning pages.

This is a quick read I recommend picking up, in which you can despise the villain, root for the heroine to accomplish her goals (“Be relentless.”), and lose yourself if an intriguing and dangerous world of fabulous magic.

New comics and reviews on the way!

Hola!

I just served up a brand new episode of Princess Disasterface, titled Bunny Slippers and Truth. (Not to be confused with the bunny slippers OF truth. Sounds like my kind of superhero accouterments.) I’ve been a bit stuck on what will happen next lately…and the answer turned out to be a plot twist! Episode 2.6 also turned out longer than most (funny how that works). I hope you all enjoy it.

Growin' Pup #5, made with Comic Draw

In other news, I’m learning to use a new comic-specific app, Comic Draw (not affiliated). It’s not as intuitive as Tayasui Sketches (still not affiliated)…except when it comes to coloring in my drawings. So I’m using Comic Draw to make a special in-color edition of Princess Disasterface, but it is taking time. I currently have no timetable for release, and my current thinking is to make it available to mailing list subscribers. It’s a lot more work this way, and there will be some exclusives in the special edition (like actually seeing the king! And not just his bunny slippers) to sweeten the deal.

You can see the polished look Comic Draw offers in my latest edition of Growin’ Pup (pictured), and in a forthcoming Social Isolation. (That’s right…I’m still working on that one, in life and in comics.)

In book review news, I just got an advanced copy of Sarah K. L. Wilson’s Sting Magic. It’s available for just a few more days for those on her mailing list. If I like it, it’ll be this month’s Indie Book Spotlight. I have her Bridge of Legends compilation on my Kindle, just waiting to be read, but for now that will wait.

And now for some book recommendations!

I’ve been fortunate to read three exceptionally well-written books in a row. The first was Anna Velfman’s Snowblind, then The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. And right after that, a book I’ve had my eye on since it was in hardcover came up on my library waiting list: Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I loved all three, but the last two made me wish there was a bit more to the post-climax wrap up. I won’t hesitate to pick up subsequent books by any of these three authors, though (Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is already on my Holds list).

Stay tuned for many more reviews! And in the meantime, please stay well and take excellent care of yourselves.

-CKB

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Supporting diversity in fantasy

Supporting Diversity in Fantasy

I’m back.

I wanted to reaffirm my commitment to reading authors of diverse backgrounds, and stories featuring diversity and non-white leads (something particularly important in fantasy). I’m going to do this by making a more concentrated effort to read said books, and by making sure I review the ones I’ve already read.

We’ve all seen how fantastic books like the three in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series have changed fantasy. We need more. We need international authors in translation, diverse authors, diverse characters, and a broader and more authentic inclusion of other cultures in our world-building.

Just think about the way Russian mythology in Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale felt like a breath of fresh air, and you’ll realize just how narrow fantasy is. Let’s not do that anymore. Give us all the places. Show us the cultures and well-rounded characters. Support books that do that by buying or borrowing them and leaving reviews along with me.

Note: I’ve updated this post to include a few author recommendations of my own (and one new author I’m excited about!), in no particular order, below.


Authors You’ll Love

Alexis Hendersen

The Year of the Witching is all the mystery, horror and serious trouble with witches you could ask for.  Don’t expect it to wrap up too neatly: a sequel is on the way to this beautifully (and creepily) descriptive book.

Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water (YA Fantasy) is as compelling as…you know (my review here). A wonderful story of found-family sisterhood, identity, protest and myth set in a version of our world with modern mythological beings. The Renaissance fair mermaids might not be real, but the sirens and elokos are. A second book in the series, A Chorus Rises, is due out this year.

Intisar Khanani

Khanani is an indie author who is now a traditionally published one, too. She writes strong, diverse heroines, like Hitomi in the Sunbolt Chronicles (read my review of Book One here.) She is also the author who changed my mind about self-publishing.

N.K. JemisIn

The queen of science fantasy, if not all of fantasy. Jemisin won three consecutive Hugo Awards for The Broken Earth Trilogy, a series that knocked my socks off and only got better. With literary-caliber writing and an original world, Jemisin broke the mold in fantasy and made a new one. And there are more highly acclaimed books and series by Jemisin, too.

Silvia Moerno-Garcia

If you don’t know her yet, you will. Mexican Gothic will soon be a series (I can’t say this enough: don’t let anyone spoil the plot twist for you). But it’s Gods of Jade and Shadow that won, and broke, my heart. A classic fantasy odyssey set in Mexico and using Mayan and other regional mythology, it’s a truly unforgettable book.

Stephanie BwaBwa

Seraphim Falling (YA Epic Fantasy) is on my TBR list! With her first book released in 2020, BwaBwa is a more recent discovery of mine, and with a series that reminds me of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, I can’t wait to check it out!


Read More:

Kobo: 10 must-read diverse sci-fi and fantasy novels

Book Riot: 9 Diverse Fantasy Books that will Challenge your Idea of Fantasy Fiction

BookBub: 13 Acclaimed Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels by Black Authors

Cheers and be well,

-C.K.

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