Horace ARC opportunity

From today through May 8, 2022, I have ARC copies available of my new adult contemporary fantasy novelette, Horace: A Sorcer World Novelette. Because this story is a newsletter subscriber exclusive, it won’t be sold anywhere.

Copies must be reviewed on Goodreads by Sunday, May 8, 2022.



Her Dreadful Will review

Do these words check any boxes for you? Slow-burn romance. Spice. Witches. Southern gothic. Modern technology meets magic society. Opposites attract. If all that sounds good to you, you need to read this Her Dreadful Will review (and maybe pick up a copy!).

Her Dreadful Will review

Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Her Dreadful Will contains violence and adult content.

This book was an unusual find for me. I read a limited number of contemporary fantasies and fantasy romances. Thanks to Her Dreadful Will‘s clever combination of modern technology and a hidden, highly regulated society of witches (and later, that slow-burn spicy romance), I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fans of Kingdom of the Wicked will likely enjoy it, too.
Another unusual thing about this book is its wholesome main character’s love interest. While Soleil just wants to prove her rare mind-flex powers can be a force for good, bad boy (dentist!) Achan is all about tearing things down and causing mayhem. The dance between these two feels like it could be deadly at any moment, yet Soleil finds herself drawn to Achan. At times, she even agrees with him.
Her Dreadful Will cover

The magic system is amazing. The witchcraft and rituals in Her Dreadful Will are extremely well-defined and immersive,  to the point that they’re almost another character. Supporting characters have interesting personalities, too, and short story-style chapters, centered on the townspeople Soleil tries to help, really drew me in to the story. I wasn’t a fan of Achan at first, so the early middle dragged for me, but soon I was eager to see what happened next again.

I’d pick up another book from this author anytime.

My rating:

To learn more about this author, visit Rebecca F. Kennedy’s website.

Black Water Sister review

A review of Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

Note: This book has a recurring theme of violence against women and intimate partner violence that may be triggering for some readers.

Black Water Sister is a vivid and engaging read that perfectly fuses the ancient with the modern. And it’s a page-turning story to boot. Narrator Jess is easy to identify with, and I could practically hear the overlapping chatter of the aunties and uncles visiting Kor Kor’s house. Through twists and turns, it delivers a message of family, empathy and redemption.
Raised in America, Malaysian-born Jess is forced to return to Penang with her parents as her family’s fortunes take a turn. A recent Harvard grad, Jess has no job prospects and is separated from her very understanding and supportive girlfriend. Jess is not out to her parents (or anyone with the slightest chance of contact with her family) and keeps their long-distance relationship going through covert messages and video chats at odd hours. Living under her Christian aunt and uncle’s roof adds another layer of tension to the balancing act that is new adult Jess.
Black Water Sister Cover

She’s isn’t the only one keeping secrets in her family, either. When Jess’s recently deceased grandmother begins haunting her, Jess’s Ah Ma, whom she never met, becomes a dangerous reality for Jess. Jess is quickly drawn into Ah Ma’s quest for vengeance, which involves saving an old temple from a determined and ultra-wealthy developer. That temple is home to the equally vengeful god known as the Black Water Sister.

In this fascinating and deadly world of spirit mediums and Chinese gods, Jess is just as lost as I was. She makes a wonderful guide, without sacrificing any of her character. She reads as an actual college grad struggling with major life changes and to find her life’s direction. All the while, the world seems to be closing in on her in every direction.
The writing gave me a crystal clear image of Jess’s Penang. Sizzling food, decaying temples and blazing heat felt real through author Zen Cho’s descriptions. I was so impressed with Cho’s ability to fuse Jess’s contemporary language with the ancient and mysterious, giving Black Water Sister a strong fantasy atmosphere even as Jess comments on hipster cafes.
Black Water Sister is both action-driven and emotional, and filled with relevant (yet timeless) messages. Abused characters are given agency and compassion in a thoughtful way, so that each character, and their pain, felt as real as the settings without ever approaching grimdark status.
This story rolls on convincingly and with a lot of heart, no matter how Jess’s life screeches to a halt. By the end, I felt like I went on the journey with her, in the best possible way.

To learn more about this author, visit zencho.org.

Review: Between Jobs (Gingell)


Madcap is a word often associated with Gingell‘s writing. The beloved City Between series kicks off with a new take on her unique writing style, in which the absurd is juxtaposed onto the ordinary, with extraordinary results.

The narrator of Between Jobs is known only as Pet—and that’s what she becomes for three non-humans who enter her family home. That home isn’t really hers. Pet’s parents were murdered in that house, and being underage, she couldn’t inherit. So she squats in the well-hidden room that saved her years ago, and saves money by working under the table at a local cafe. When Atelas, Zeno and Jinyeong purchase the family home, Pet—who refers to them as her “three psychos”—gets accustomed to other people being in the home again. It’s sort of comforting.

Until they find her. Set in Hobart, Australia and full of local dialect (Pet’s catchphrase is practically “Flaming heck!”), Pet gets enmeshed in the supernatural murder investigation conducted by her “three psychos.” With the promise of a little endearingly awkward romance on the horizon, Pet’s plucky outlook and enthralling world-building, the book takes readers on a sometimes violent and often hilarious adventure through Hobart Between and Hobart Behind.

The gruesome opening, in which Pet finds herself next door to another murder, was a shock after reading Gingell’s other work, and sets a darker, grittier tone. The deeper I got into Between Jobs, the more I loved it. I came very close to binge-reading with this one, and certainly lost hours of sleep. I am firmly team Jinyeong (they have to get together, right? Never mind the part about him being a vampire who will only speak Korean until he masters English) and can’t wait to continue the series. Keeping the “three psychos” as enigmatic characters is also genius; reviews of later books on Goodreads promise a serious twist.

This is an unforgettable book that’s wonderfully strange, dark and endearing all at once. I hope you’re not as behind as me on this series, but if you haven’t started yet, you should pick this one up. Immediately.

To learn more about this author, please visit her website.