the book cover for One Duke Down by Anna Bennett
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 352 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: January 24th, 2023 
  • PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Parental death off screen, kidnapping,
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Wallflower Series by Lisa Kleypas

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Miss Poppy Summers is determined to keep her family’s fishing business afloat. Her poor widowed father has fallen ill, and her foolhardy brother has moved to London, leaving her precious little time to read or pursue her own dreams. But she’ll do anything for her family, so she cheerfully spends mornings in her rowboat, casting her nets. The very last thing Poppy expects or wants to find tangled in them is a dangerously attractive man. Especially one with a head wound—who’s convinced he’s a duke.

Andrew Keane is the Duke of Hawking, but he’s having the devil of a time convincing his fiery-haired rescuer of that fact. The truth is he came to the seaside resort of Bellehaven Bay to escape his life in London. Unfortunately, someone in Bellehaven wants to kill him—and he intends to find out who. He implores Poppy to tend to his injuries and hide him on her beach, reasoning it will be easier to find his attacker if that man assumes Keane is already dead. She wants no part of the scheme but can’t refuse the generous sum he offers in exchange for food and shelter while he recovers. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement…nothing more.

Under Poppy’s care, Keane regains his strength—and a sense of purpose. As they work together to solve the puzzle of his would-be murderer, he’s dazzled by her rapier wit and adventurous spirit; she’s intrigued by his mysterious air and protective streak. Though Poppy’s past gives her every reason to mistrust someone like Keane, the seawalls around her heart crumble in the storm of their passion. But when clues hint at the prime suspect in Keane’s attempted murder, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between the world she’s always known and the one she’s always dreamed of, she’ll need true love for a shot at her fairytale ending.

I love a good historical romance novel. I only started reading them a couple years ago, and while I have read some clunkers, there are way, way more good books than bad out there. I took forever to pick them up because I tended to think the covers were embarrassing or just plain ridiculous looking. Now, I will be the first to happily admit that the reason I wanted to read One Duke Down was because of that absolutely gorgeous cover. How rare is it to see both characters on the cover smiling? Especially on a photo-realistic cover like this one?

Thankfully, One Duke Down lives up to its cover. Keane, the Duke of Hawking, is absolutely head over heels for Poppy, a fisherman’s daughter. They meet in unusual circumstances (when don’t characters in romance novels meet in weird ways??), but it’s easy to see how they click together right away. I love it when a hero is just a total simp for their love, and Keane fits the bill perfectly. He’s willing to stand up for her almost immediately, and once he finds out about certain things in her past, he’s just raring to go beat someone’s head in for her. It’s amazing, it’s perfect, it’s what we want to see in a romance hero.

Poppy is independent, but fiercely loyal to her family. She’s very easy to like, and I loved that she wasn’t willing to bend to The Duke’s needs right away — she got what she wanted and then she decided to help him. She falls for him in a slower manner, but it’s still a joy to read.

Some parts of this book were a little eye-rollingly cringey, but to be quite honest, I’ve come to expect that with romance novels. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this one and do recommend that you pick it up. Poppy and Keane are adorable together, and I wish we got slightly more of an epilogue, honestly. But! No big deal — this one comes in at a solid 4 stars.

ONE DUKE DOWN comes out January 24th, 2023 

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  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 192 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: January 17, 2023
  • PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • WHAT SERIES? Sorcery of Thorns
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Sorcery of Thorns
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1.5 at the moment
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Child death (in the past, and not shown), Death of parent (in the past, and not shown)
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Literally any of Margaret Rogerson’s books, they’re all fantastic

Thank you to Netgalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


In this sequel novella to Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas must unravel the magical trap keeping them inside Thorn Manor in time for their Midwinter Ball!

Elisabeth Scrivener is finally settling into her new life with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. Now that their demon companion Silas has returned, so has scrutiny from nosy reporters hungry for gossip about the city’s most powerful sorcerer and the librarian who stole his heart. But something strange is afoot at Thorn Manor: the estate’s wards, which are meant to keep their home safe, are acting up and forcibly trapping the Manor’s occupants inside. Surely it must be a coincidence that this happened just as Nathaniel and Elisabeth started getting closer to one another…

With no access to the outside world, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas – along with their new maid Mercy – will have to work together to discover the source of the magic behind the malfunctioning wards before they’re due to host the city’s Midwinter Ball. Not an easy task when the house is filled with unexpected secrets, and all Elisabeth can think about is kissing Nathaniel in peace. But when it becomes clear that the house, influenced by the magic of Nathaniel’s ancestors, requires a price for its obedience, Elisabeth and Nathaniel will have to lean on their connection like never before to set things right.

I got approved for an ARC of this one yesterday around 3:00 pm. It is now 2:00 pm the next day, and I’m already done with this. Whoops. Destiny and I were supposed to buddy read it, but honestly, Mysteries of Thorn Manner just FLIES by as you read it. Those not even 200 pages barely feel like anything at all by the time you’re done. And I don’t mean that in a bad way at all — this was a delightful novella, and I’m so, so glad that I got the chance to read it a little early.

For those you that don’t know, I am a huge fan of Margaret Rogerson’s books (though i still need to read Vespertine!). She’s primarily a YA author, and her books tend to have fairly low stakes, with sweet romances in them. It’s hard to discuss this book without mentioning anything from Sorcery of Thorns, which is the first book in the series. You can read my review of that one here. ANYWAY, Mysteries of Thorn Manner picks up pretty much where Sorcery of Thorns left off, and does not bother to explain to you anything about that novel. It’s just assumed that you’ve read it, and honestly that works 1000% here. No time to waste on that when we have such a short (but delicious) page count!

Elizabeth and Nathaniel are dancing around the edges of what their relationship means, and very quickly it becomes apparently that Thorn Manner wants them to decide what they are and what they mean to each other. There’s barely any plot to this, but I was a-okay with it, because overall, this is a silly, cozy fantasy book. I (like Destiny) was giggling through the whole novella. There’s almost zero stakes really felt, but again, it doesn’t matter. This book exists purely to bring a smile to your face, especially if you are a fan of Rogerson’s past work.

I loved this, and wish it was about 5000 more pages, personally.


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  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 336 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: January 10, 2023
  • PUBLISHER: Del Rey Books
  • WHAT SERIES? Emily Wilde
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Blood, Injury/injury detail, Animal death, Kidnapping, Gore
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Veronica Speedwell Series by Deanna Raybourn

Thank you to Netgalley and Del Ray Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.

You all know how much I love books involving The Fae, or Faeries, or anything remotely similar to that. I wrote a whole recommendation post on them, and I’ve seemingly read about six thousand books that weren’t on that list. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, I really like stories about the Fae. Especially when the fae are tricksy, and not exactly nice — the old-school you don’t want to mess with these fae. Those are my favorite.

NOW THAT WE’VE GOT THAT OUT OF THE WAY — I requested  Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries on Netgalley on a complete whim. The cover was cute, and the description sounded like something I’d like. When I got the approval for it, I was mildly surprised (it’s been a hot minute since I’d actually reviewed an arc. Whoops — fully blaming you, reading slump.) , but totally ready to dive into the book. Imagine my surprise at how much I freaking loved this book. I don’t know why I was surprised, as this has all the makings of a book I’d really enjoy. BUT ANYWAY.


The characters are all amazing, believable and so much fun to read about. My favorite is Wendell Bambleby, who is just about as Howl Pendragon-esque as you could possibly be without actually being Howl. He’s grumpy, lazy, but so, so charming. Willing to help if Emily demands that it needs to be done. Emily herself is curmudgeonly and more interested in scholarship than helping another human being. But despite that, she does spend a great deal if time in this book helping people. I rather liked her for that, even if she did it for altruistic reasons. She still did what she could to make people’s lives better. I also really enjoyed Poe, a tiny fae who Emily befriends rather quickly into the novel. I did wish we saw more of him by the end, but I have a feeling he’ll be in later installments of this series.

I do wish we got more of the romance, but again, I think it’ll get developed in coming books. What we saw was on the sweeter side, which I enjoyed!

The story is interspersed with faerie tales or legends from the local culture. It does read a bit like an actual scholarly book in some ways, but since Emily is writing an encyclopedia of all faerie knowledge, this makes sense. I really had so much fun reading this — I flew through it in a way I haven’t read a book in a while. Please pick this one up when it comes out! Especially if you like the Fae the way I do!


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the book cover for Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
  • PAGE LENGTH: 320 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: January 31st 2023 
  • PUBLISHER: Kensington Books
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Child abuse, Emotional abuse, Drug use
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  In a Jam by Kate Canterbary

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


In this heartfelt tale of one woman’s quest to reinvent herself, the acclaimed author of Love Lettering and Love at First delivers a poignant, witty reflection on how the hopes, dreams, and stories from our past shape our future . . .

Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.

But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.

Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.

Honest and deeply emotional, Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away . . .

Georgie, All Along is a profoundly lovely story about self-discovery and figuring yourself out. Yes, it’s a romance book, but I found that wasn’t the most important part of it for me. Georgie is lost — she’s been let go from her important assistant job out in Hollywood, and has found herself slinking back to her home town. She’s supposed to be staying her parent’s house while they’re out vacationing, but the first night she’s there a man walks right into the house while she’s dancing in her robe and underwear. That night will forever change her life — in the best way possible.

I love, love, loved this book. Every character in it felt like someone I know in real life. They all were dynamic, and understandable and dang if they didn’t just breathe right off the page. Georgie reminded me so much of myself I wanted to scream. She’s such a lovely, bright, bubbly person but all she does is help everyone else. Once she realizes this, she’s even more lost than she already was — who is she when she’s just taking care of herself? Who is she when she has no one to help? Who is she when she looks forward and stops thinking about right now? Georgie finds the answers to all of these, and gah. I want to be her best friend, but that role is already taken by Bel, another fantastic character.

But even more than I loved Georgie, I loved Levi. What a strong person. What a horrible past. What god-awful parents. I loved that Clayborn gave him such a thorough backstory, but what was best was that she sort of peppered it in. You learn in bits and pieces and then when it all finally comes out you want to take Levi and hold him tight. I love that he took his hurt and used it it improve himself, and make a life that he wanted. I loved that he was silly with Georgie, but generally a quiet man. He took care of her without smothering her — Levi let Georgie be Georgie. He loved her — all of her, not just the palatable bits. Georgie and Levi fit together like puzzle pieces.

It’s obvious I’m just gushing now, but I really adored this book. This one is one I’ll come back to again and again, just hoping for more Georgie and Levi. Go pick this one up the second it comes out, okay?

GEORGIE, ALL ALONG comes out JANUARY 31, 2023.

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  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 400 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: March 7th 2023 
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
  • WHAT SERIES? The Nightshade Kingdom
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Foxglove King
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Death, body horror, kidnapping
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


In this lush, romantic new epic fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Hannah Whitten, a young woman’s secret power to raise the dead plunges her into the dangerous and glamorous world of the Sainted King’s royal court.

When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city.

Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan. Entire villages on the outskirts of the country have been dying overnight, seemingly at random. Lore can either use her magic to find out what’s happening and who in the King’s court is responsible, or die.

Lore is thrust into the Sainted King’s glittering court, where no one can be believed and even fewer can be trusted. Guarded by Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk, and continually running up against Bastian, August’s ne’er-do-well heir, Lore tangles in politics, religion, and forbidden romance as she attempts to navigate a debauched and opulent society.

But the life she left behind in the catacombs is catching up with her. And even as Lore makes her way through the Sainted court above, they might be drawing closer than she thinks.

I knew upon reading the synopsis of this book that it would be right up my alley. I knew it. And reader — I was right. I had been desperately waiting for my ARC copy to arrive in my email ever since Orbit had announced this book was coming. And I know I really should have waited until closer to The Foxglove King‘s publishing date to read it, but uh, I could not wait any longer.

Despite my ongoing reading slump, I found myself diving into The Foxglove King. It is so good. It reads like the best YA adventure novel out there — and I do not mean that as a dig in any way whatsoever. I know people like to rag on YA novels, but they are a lot of fun most of the time. The Foxglove King is NOT a YA novel, but it definitely has the same feeling. There’s a lot at stake here in the plot, and the three main characters are all pretty high up on the so-called totem pole, if you will.

We have Lore, who is something of a necromancer. She’s got a mysterious past that we don’t see very much of in this book, but I fully expect to see more of in the incoming books. I really liked Lore. She never took anything for granted, and was rather fully on her own side. But she also had real feelings, and dang do you feel sorry for her the more you read.

Next, we have Gabe, who is a duke/monk in a death…related…cult? It’s hard to explain without spoiling anything. I promise it makes total sense in the book. He’s got his own reasons behind everything that he does or allows to happen, and while I wanted to like him, and you really really do want to like him, he is so manipulated that you really aren’t surprised by certain things that occur.

Lastly, we have Bastian, the Sun Prince. I love, love, love Bastian. I’m a sucker for a pretends-not-to-care, parties-all-the-time, but-actually-cares-a-lot character. That’s Bastian to a T. I cannot wait to see more of him. His dad is the King (obviously) and wow, do you hate his dad as soon as you meet him.

And yes, there is a bit of a love-triangle situation going on between the three leads. I know who I’m rooting for, but we’ll see where it goes. The romance is NOT a huge part of the book, though, for those of you that are worried about it. It is very much a minor subplot. Lore is not at all worried about her heart when her death magic seems to be strengthening. She has her priorities straight, I promise.

I loved the magic that Whitten included. I love the little hints of the gods that we see — this was actually one of my most favorite parts of the book. The gods are dead, but not, and they seem to be influencing things to go a certain way. It is so vastly interesting, and mysterious without being infuriating that I am now waiting with bated breath for the next entry into this series.

THE FOXGLOVE KING comes out MARCH 7, 2023.

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the book cover for A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 400 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: November 1st 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Tordotcom Publishing
  • WHAT SERIES? The Last Binding Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? A Marvellous Light
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, death, torture, Misogyny, racism
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom Publishing for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske’s beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

One of my absolute favorite books I read last year was the first book in The Last Binding series — A Marvellous Light. It took everything that I adore — historical romance, mysteries, meaningful gay relationships, magic, and steamy sex scenes — and pushed it all together in an absolutely fantastic mashup. When A Restless Truth showed up on Netgalley, I daren’t hope that I would be given access to an ARC. I loved A Marvellous Light too much, obviously, to be impartial to the sequel. Well, I was wrong — Tordotcom rather lovingly bestowed me access to an e-arc of one of my most anticipated books of the year. I think I squealed out loud when I got the approval email, actually.

So, drumroll — did A Restless Truth stand up to A Marvellous Light in my eyes?

Yes, and a tiny bit of no.

Yes…mostly, I suppose?

The entire book takes place on a massive ship heading across the Atlantic back to England. It’s possible that this hampered the book in my eyes — perhaps I missed the mad dash hurry travel scenes to get some other neatly magical location? Or was it the characters themselves that just didn’t stand up to Robin and Edwin? (This is what I’m leaning towards.) I love them both so much, that it would be very hard for anyone else to match them, honestly. While I did like Maud, and Violet, they just weren’t Robin and Edwin. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It might also be the ending of the book that just didn’t shine quite as much as A Marvellous Light‘s. (I won’t spoil anything but repeating something happening to the characters three times is a bit much, in my eyes.) Whatever the reason may be — I’m still not entirely sure — I still did enjoy A Restless Truth very much.

More about the characters, now. Violet Debenham is an absolute marvel of a character — she is a magnificent scandal and she does not care who notices. She spends the majority of the book pretending to be behind a version of herself that she’s created in order to hide who she really is. She’s a lot of fun, but she does ring false for a lot of the book — on purpose. Maud Blythe is Robin’s sister who is determined with all her might to be a good person, in spite of her parents being absolutely awful people. Lord Hawthorne, I’m hoping will be one of the leads in the next book. He’s so very stoic, noble, and straight-backed I really want to see someone just totally tear him apart emotionally.

The mystery at the center of the plot was fantastic, though I do wish there had been a little more foreshadowing as to who was actually involved in the theft and murder. It feels like the twist comes out of absolutely nowhere, unfortunately.

Overall, I did enjoy A Restless Truth, just not quite as much as I loved A Marvellous Light.

A RESTLESS TRUTH comes out NOVEMBER 1, 2022.

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the book cover for Empire of Exiles by Erin M. Evans
  • STAR RATING:  4.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 448 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: November 8th 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Murder, death, kidnapping
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Twenty-seven years ago, a Duke with a grudge led a ruthless coup against the empire of Semilla, killing thousands. He failed. The Duke was executed, a terrifyingly powerful sorcerer was imprisoned, and an unwilling princess disappeared.

The empire moved on.

Now, when Quill, an apprentice scribe, arrives in the capital city, he believes he’s on a simple errand for another pompous noble: fetch ancient artifacts from the magical Imperial Archives. He’s always found his apprenticeship to be dull work. But these aren’t just any artifacts — these are the instruments of revolution, the banners under which the Duke lead his coup.

Just as the artifacts are unearthed, the city is shaken by a brutal murder that seems to have been caused by a weapon not seen since the days of rebellion.

Since Quill is the only reliable witness to the murder, and no one in power believes his story, he must join with a young mage, a seasoned archivist, and a disillusioned detective to find the truth of the attack. And what they uncover will be the key to saving the empire – or destroying it for good. 

Empire of Exiles is one of the most wildly original fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. I had no idea what this book was really about when Orbit sent it my way, but wow. Take the typical fantasy novel, add a dash of locked-room, a dash of murder, and a splash a mystery and you’ve got this book.

So — a murder mystery set in something like a locked-room.

Is your interest piqued? How about I tempt you further?

Humans are, but one type of being in this world. There are beings with tentacles, beings with horns, and beings that I think can see in the dark? I’m not sure on that one, it wasn’t explained in detail. And lastly — there are beings called changelings who can turn into anyone. At all. At will. (See why the murder mystery is extra interesting in this one?) Basically — the world of Empire of Exiles is wildly diverse, and the beings included are so very different to what I’m used to in my fantasy books. It’s so refreshing to have some different types of beings than the usual elves, dwarves, orcs.

The setting itself is fascinating, and I really, really wish we had seen more of it. We really only see one corner of one city, and that’s it. Everything we see is set inside a massive salt wall and no one is allowed to go outside it. The wall was put up long ago to magically to protect everyone from the changelings. The changelings were taking over, and causing havoc, and so the wall was built to keep them out, forever.

And the magic system? Talk about another absolutely unique point to this book. Those who have magic are usually called ‘specialists’ and they specialize in one particular thing — some seen directly on page are bronze, glass, ink, or bone. Their abilities wax and wane throughout the year, and at certain times they are in danger of ‘spiralling’ — when their power goes extremely out of their control and they attempt to turn into whatever their medium is. It’s dangerous, and the author does a fantastic job of showing how this feels.

The characters are another great piece to this amazing puzzle, but I really don’t want to spoil too much about them for anyone so I’m going to sum them up very quickly: Quill – naïve boy who wants to help, Amadea – extreme mom friend, Yinii – precious cinnamon roll who I would protect with my life, Richa – a ‘detective’ type with actual morals. There are others, but these have the most page time, and they all are so fantastically well done.

It took me a tiny bit to sink into the book — you have to really follow what Evans sets up carefully — but once you’re there, you’re there. I loved this, and I can’t wait to see where Evans goes in the next one.

EMPIRE OF EXILES comes out November 8th 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:



the book cover for The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling
  • STAR RATING:  4.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 320 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: September 20th 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Avon Books
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, violence, kidnapping
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Welcome to Spooky Season!! The follow-up to Erin Sterling’s New York Times bestselling hit The Ex Hex features fan favorite Gwyn and the spine-tinglingly handsome Wells Penhallow as they battle a new band of witches and their own magical chemistry.

Gwyn Jones is perfectly happy with her life in Graves Glen. She, her mom, and her cousin have formed a new and powerful coven; she’s running a successful witchcraft shop, Something Wicked; and she’s started mentoring some of the younger witches in town. As Halloween approaches, there’s only one problem—Llewellyn “Wells” Penhallow.

Wells has come to Graves Glen to re-establish his family’s connection to the town they founded as well as to make a new life for himself after years of being the dutiful son in Wales. When he opens up a shop of his own, Penhallow’s, just across the street from Something Wicked, he quickly learns he’s gotten more than he bargained for in going up against Gwyn.

When their professional competition leads to a very personal—and very hot—kiss, both Wells and Gwyn are determined to stay away from each other, convinced the kiss was just a magical fluke. But when a mysterious new coven of witches come to town and Gwyn’s powers begin fading, she and Wells must work together to figure out just what these new witches want and how to restore Gwyn’s magic before it’s too late. 

Oh, this was just a lot of fun! If you’re anything like me, sometimes you can sit down and just inhale a romance book. If I didn’t have a toddler, that would have been me with The Kiss Curse. Despite having a toddler, this book went very quickly.

The Kiss Curse brings us back to the delightful witchy town of Graves Glen, and to the absolutely hilarious Jones family. Well — really just Gwyn, and very tiny glimpses of Vivi, the heroine from the first book, The Ex Hex. Vivi and her new husband, Rhys, go away on a honeymoon, and leave Gwyn alone to run their shop. I did miss their presence on page, but as they already had their book, this was probably the best decision possible. This really gave Gwyn and Wells a chance to shine, and dang did their personalities just jump off the page.

Gwyn is a hilarious, very powerful witch, and I loved her so much. Wells is a little more stick-in-the-mud traditionalist when it comes to magic, but he very quickly loosens up. To be honest, Gwyn all but forces him to let go a little. Together, their chemistry was basically fire. They hate each other at the start of the book, but by the middle, they’re basically climbing each other. It’s fantastic. Not to mention the one real sex scene was incredibly steamy, so thumbs up to Erin Sterling, there.

The background plot of the book was interesting, but not as interesting as Gwyn and Wells together. To sum it up very simply: something is causing Gwyn’s magic to go haywire, and no one is quite sure what it is. It’s incredibly similar to the plot of the first book without being an exact copy. I wish their had been a little more variation, but whatever. I wasn’t really here for that. I wanted more Gwyn and Wells.

Oh and — Sir Purrcival is definitely still on page, and he’s definitely still talking, so I was extremely happy.

Four and half stars for pure enjoyment’s sake.

THE KISS CURSE comes out SEPTEMBER 20, 2022.

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  • STAR RATING:  Four and a half stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 496 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: September 13th 2022
  • WHAT SERIES? The Locked Tomb
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Gideon the Ninth
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Gore, body horror, death, child death
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The only thing that’s maybe sort of kind of similar, if you squint, would be The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, for the tone of the writing, but for more necromancy, check out The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix

Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…


I’d wax poetic some more about how hard The Locked Tomb series is to review, but I fear that you’re probably tired of hearing that. (Once you pick these books up, you’ll see what I mean. I PROMISE.) So, we continue onwards. I had the profound luck to be granted access to an e-ARC of Nona the Ninth — Thank you, I love you forever. I had absolutely no idea what or where we were headed in this book. Way back when, Muir had announced (between Harrow and Nona) that The Locked Tomb was moving from a trilogy to a four book series. No one knew why, but I figured she had her reasons and I trusted her (and still do) to do what she needed to do to make this series as phenomenal as possible.

In terms of the series as a whole, Nona the Ninth is a bit of a side-quest, if you will. The main plot is present in this book, but it’s told in backflashes, dreams, and hinted at in whispers and behind closed doors by side characters. I have to be so careful about what I say as I do not and absolutely refuse to spoil what happens in this book. Muir once again knocks it out of the park with Nona the Ninth. You’ll be confused, but you’ll like it. And you will love Nona herself. She is an enormous cinnamon roll of a sweetheart wrapped up in innocence itself. As for characters from past books — they’re still present here, but a lot of them are presented in new ways. That’s all I can say there.

Nona the Ninth is a lot easier to follow than Harrow, but it’s not simple. Nothing about The Locked Tomb is simple, and I hope it never will be. This is a series you dive into and swim around in for awhile. This is a series that you’ll look up theories for online, and hope that maybe you’ve figured it out. This is a series that you’ll maybe need notes for, or a wiki up on another tab. It’s complicated, delicious, and so satisfying. Yes, you’ll have even more questions at the end of Nona, but oh what questions they’ll be. And, don’t worry, you’ll get answers. So, so many answers for the questions asked in Harrow and Gideon.

The ending of Nona is like if there was a train carrying fireworks going super super fast, and then it crashed in this huge spectacular crash, and absolutely none of the fireworks went off. (You’ll be standing there, watching the burning wreck, wondering shouldn’t they go off? Should I intervene, maybe? Should I call someone?) The ending of Nona will leave you questioning everything. Muir is a genius. A master at her craft. An author that will probably forever be an auto-buy author for me.

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the book cover for A Dowry of Blood by St Gibson
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 250 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: October 4, 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Emotional abuse, blood, toxic relationship, sexual content, physical abuse
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab for the dark, sumptuous feeling

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 

[Note: I wrote this review at the end of July.]

I really meant to save this book until closer to October for spooky season reasons, but uh, I’ve been desperately waiting for the opportunity to read it that it just sort of…opened itself on my Kindle. And before I knew it, I was like…50% of the way through it, and well, why stop now when it’s so good? And it is, it really, really is. A Dowry of Blood is a dark, sumptuous retelling of Dracula’s wives, and how their lives fully revolve around a monster of a man. It’s not a very long book, but by the end of it, you are fully rooting for the wives.

Despite not mentioning Dracula by name, there is no way this book is about anyone other than him. He is the vampire, so who else could it possibly be? The whole of the book is told in first person by Constanta, in a sort of diary/letter format. Constanta tells the story of her life with Dracula, and how it started out wonderful, and gradually (or not so gradually) it turned into a nightmare. Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta are Dracula’s wives (and husband). All four of them are in a poly relationship with one another. It was lovely, reading about how much they cared for one another. As time passes (and oh it does, hundreds and hundreds of years), Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta all come to realize they are no longer in a relationship, but a dictatorship.

And then, things change. Suddenly, everything is bitter, and they find it hard to live their lives without showing their resentment for Dracula. It’s hard not to resent him, as a reader. He keeps them locked away, not allowed to mingle with humans, not allowed to participate in the world. How could anyone live like that? Especially people who have been around for hundreds and thousands of years.

The writing in A Dowry of Blood reminds me of the darkest, deepest chocolate. Delicious, bitter, and sweet all at once. It is gorgeous, dripping from the pages like the blood the vampires must survive on. This book will leave you wanting more, so much more, but it ends on a perfect, perfect note. Five stars. Highly, highly recommend this one, especially if you love vampires at their best, and most classic form.

A DOWRY OF BLOOD comes out OCTOBER 4, 2022.

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