ARC REVIEW: TEN THOUSAND STITCHES BY OLIVIA ATWATER

the book cover for Ten Thousand Stitches by Olivia Atwater
  • STAR RATING:  3.5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 288 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: July 19th 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit 
    WHAT SERIES?  The Regency Faerie Tales series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Half A Soul
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Domestic abuse, emotional abuse, misogyny
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

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

SYNOPSIS

Regency housemaid Euphemia Reeves has acquired a faerie godfather. Unfortunately, he has no idea what he’s doing.

Effie has most inconveniently fallen in love with the dashing Mr Benedict Ashbrooke. There’s only one problem; Effie is a housemaid, and a housemaid cannot marry a gentleman. It seems that Effie is out of luck until she stumbles into the faerie realm of Lord Blackthorn, who is only too eager to help Effie win Mr Ashbrooke’s heart. All he asks in return is that Effie sew ten thousand stitches onto his favourite jacket.

Effie has heard rumours about what happens to those who accept help from faeries, but life as a maid at Hartfield is so awful that she is willing to risk even her immortal soul for a chance at something better. Now, she has one hundred days – and ten thousand stitches – to make Mr Ashbrooke fall in love and propose. . . if Lord Blackthorn doesn’t wreck things by accident, that is. For Effie’s greatest obstacle might well prove to be Lord Blackthorn’s overwhelmingly good intentions.

Ten Thousand Stitches is just as cute as Half a Soul, though I think I enjoyed it just a tad bit less. (Like almost miniscule amounts less.) To put it simply, I enjoyed Elias Wilder as a hero more than Lord Blackthorn. While I do love a gooey cinnamon roll of a hero, for some reason Lord Blackthorn read as more childish to me, than just pure innocence. Either way, I loved both books.

I thoroughly enjoyed that Atwater’s version of Cinderella actually starred a maid, and not a noblewoman forced down into servitude by horrible happenstance. I also very much enjoyed that Effie was well and truly angry about her position. It is so rare to see or have a historical romance heroine who sees the injustice in her own life, and is PISSED about it. I loved it. I loved her anger, and I loved that she ended up being able to use it to better everyone else’s (and her) life.

Though I had a slightly harder time with the romance in this one, I still very much enjoyed watching Effie and Lord Blackthorn fall in love. Especially since neither one of them appeared to realize that it was happening. I especially adored the scene when they were in faerie, and they were dancing the day away. It was incredibly romantic, and I loved the atmosphere that Atwater wrote in this particular scene. Though, now that I think back on it some more, I’m not even sure Lord Blackthorn and Effie even kiss once? I need more spice than that.

Ten Thousand Stitches is a good entry into the Regency Faerie Tale series, and I can’t wait to jump right into the next one.

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ARC REVIEW: HALF A SOUL BY OLIVIA ATWATER

the book cover for Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 304 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: April 5th 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit 
    WHAT SERIES?  The Regency Faerie Tales series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Half A Soul
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Emotional abuse, ableism, child abuse, blood
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

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

SYNOPSIS

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enchanting historical fantasy, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mother.

Half a Soul pushed so many of my buttons in the best way. I love a good historical romance, and when you throw any element of fantasy romance in a book, too? You have my attention. Half a Soul had been recommended to me about a million times recently, by fantastic reviews written by other bloggers, to people just basically shoving the book in my face going, YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE THIS, I PROMISE. Well, you were right, people.

You were right.

I thoroughly enjoyed Half a Soul, and have plans to continue right along on to the next book in the series. How could I not, when this one was so good? I adored Dora, and her practicality, and complete disregard for the societal rules. She did what she wanted to, and rarely let anyone else make her feel bad about it. (I guess that’s a pro to having half a soul? You don’t really care what anyone else thinks.) Vanessa, Dora’s cousin, bothered me a bit as she was so very concerned about fixing Dora, instead of loving her for who she was. But it was Elias that I loved most of all.

Elias is the Lord Sorcier, a young man who was so very Angry with a capital A at society. I loved him. He was uncouth, he was mean, a tiny bit cruel, and well, he was so different than any other romantic hero I’d ever read before. And beneath all that rough, gruff exterior, well, Elias was spending his time trying to help the poorest, most unfortunate children. He is not a bad man, the complete opposite, in fact.

I loved watching these two navigate their blossoming relationship. Neither one of them really let the other get away with anything, which I really liked. Elias and Dora were perfect for each other. Four stars because there was just a little something missing. I’m not sure what, but there you go.

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BOOK REVIEW: A MARVELLOUS LIGHT BY FREYA MARSKE

Rating: 5 out of 5.

SYNOPSIS

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Oh, this is an astoundingly lovely book.

I had heard vague things about A Marvellous Light, but going into it, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. I figured I would probably enjoy it, as it had been sold to me as historical romance, plus a magical mystery/conspiracy. Now I love a good historical romance, and anything with magic is right up my alley, so this book was practically screaming my name.

A Marvellous Light takes place at the tail end of the 1800’s, in an England where magic exists, but is unknown to most. One of our heroes is Robin Blythe, a non-magical baronet who has been thrust into a job that deals with magic. Only problem is — he has no idea magic exists. On Robin’s first day at his new job, Edwin Courcey — a man who DOES have magic — shows up to get a report, expecting Robin’s predecessor. Said predecessor has been missing for several weeks, and no one has any idea where he’s gone. Here is where the mystery begins!

These two are such wonderful foils of one another, that it was an immense pleasure watching their relationship unfold. Edwin grew up with minimal amounts of magic, in a household where being nothing less than the best was unacceptable. He was brutally treated by his cruel older brother, and as such, turned into quite an icy, stoic individual who would much rather surround himself with books rather than people. Robin, on the other hand, grew up in a house where public appearances were so much more important than being your true self. His parents die shortly before the novel begins, leaving him and his sister in dire straits, as they have left all their fortune to charities and ‘projects’ rather than their children. Robin is a bright, confident man, who is rather quick to jump on the metaphorical grenade rather than have someone else get hurt. Robin was my favorite.

I’m not going to spoil anything more, other than to say this was such a fun book to read. The mystery is dealt out in lovely, delicious chunks leaving you wanting just enough to keep reading. The writing itself is absolutely gorgeous and just a tiny bit haunting in the best way.

I cannot recommend A Marvellous Light enough. Please go read it.

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ARC REVIEW: A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON BY ALEXANDRA ROWLAND

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

SYNOPSIS

The Goblin Emperor meets “Magnificent Century” in Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, where a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire.

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

A Taste of Gold and Iron was a book I was looking forward to IMMENSELY this year. When I got approved for an ARC last week, I may have screamed a little out loud. I feel absolutely no shame about that because this book has ONE HUNDRED PERCENT lived up to the hype. What hype, you might ask? Well, this book (and its absolutely gorgeous cover) has been making the rounds on fandom Twitter as a book to watch out for. Even the author has been hyping up their own work — AS THEY SHOULD. Oh my god, as they should.

A Taste of Gold and Iron takes place in a fictional country named Arasht that is ruled by a lady-sultan. Her adult brother, Kadou, is an anxious adorable cinnamon roll. For the first bit of the novel, he comes across as a little bit spineless, a lot squishy, and in need of some serious comfort. As you read, it becomes very obvious that Kadou is anything but spineless.

Through a series of events that I won’t spoil, Evemer becomes Kadou’s bodyguard. Evemer is a serious, duty-before-all sort of man who doesn’t think very much of his new charge. This changes, of course, and they end up in an absolutely adorable will-they-won’t-they tangle. I am happy to report that oh yes they do. The romance in A Taste of Gold and Iron reminds me of the best fanfictions out there. There’s pining, and there’s the whole oh-they-can’t-love-me-I’m-worthless/undeserving thing. There’s the only one bed trope, Evemer and Kadou wash each other’s hair, they “fake” kiss to disguise themselves, and a million other cute tropey things. There are so many absolutely delicious tropes in this book.

Alexandra Rowland has created an absolute masterpiece of a world in Arasht. My favorite bit of world building is the fact that gender is not binary. There are men, women, and a third nonbinary gender as well. Men wear long hair, jewelry, and make up. Marriage can be between anyone without any issue. Arasht is ruled by a female sultan who doesn’t have to marry if she doesn’t want to, in fact it’s better for the throne if she doesn’t. The captain of the guard is a badass older woman.

Many, many people have compared A Taste of Gold and Iron to The Goblin Emperor, but I don’t see that as an appropriate comparison at all. I hated The Goblin Emperor because it was boring, hard to understand, and everyone had a name that started with the same letter. I couldn’t follow anything in that novel without backtracking a million times to double check myself. A Taste of Gold and Iron has absolutely none of those issues. The book has plenty of action, and while the world is completely fictional, it is extremely easy to follow.

I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can recommend it to absolutely everyone I know. This is going to be the next big fandom out there. Kadou and Evemer are extremely shippable and I can just see their numbers on AO3 going up, up, up.

A Taste of Gold and Iron comes out  August 30, 2022.

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

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