The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

This is a YA, magical realism, fantasy story that is a bit of a mystery as well.

Nora Wilder is coming unglued. Wandering at night, looking for something, forgetting who she is sometimes. Her two daughters, Zadie, and Finn know something is wrong, but Finn is young and Zadie doesn’t share her concerns about their mother until the day Nora walks down the driveway and leaves. No news, no notes, nothing for five years.

Finn was taken in by a great foster family and is now graduating high school. What she wants is to find her mother, but she can’t tell her parents and she isn’t sure Zadie will help her.

Zadie should have seen her mother’s leaving earlier. After all, she is a psychic. But she didn’t and now she doesn’t want anything to do with her gift. Shoving it way down until Jess persuades her to help track her mother. Jess has her own gift. Memories. She can feel memories in a place, so if her mother has been there, she will be able to tell.

They set on a road trip beginning with the old campground their mother took them to before. It’s there that Zadie begins to notice that Jess is disappearing into a sleepwalking state at night. Leaving in the middle of the night and scaring Zadie to death.

Jess feels these echoes and hears a song about a bird and she knows these memories belong to Nora. As they go from place to place, Zadie is worried that Jess has whatever their mother had. Maybe she should stop this now and send Jess home before there is no more Jess.

This is a YA fantasy, magical realism story of things we don’t understand, and the powerful pull of family.

I enjoyed it!

NetGalley/ November 15th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press





WILD is the WITCH by Rachel Griffin

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray and her mother run a wildlife refuge in Washington. It’s not where she is from but that place no longer wanted witches nor did her father who stayed behind.

But she loves her days at the refuge and when she gets frazzled, she does what her Grandmother taught her to do. She creates a spell, puts it in some herbs, and burns it. Much like writing a letter but not sending it. No one gets hurt and she feels a little better.

Her life would be fine if it weren’t for the annoying intern, Pike Alder. It’s a mutual hate feeling. And he has made it clear he despises witches.

So she takes her frustrations out in the same way, only this time before she can push the magic into the herbs, an owl dives in front and takes the curse. These birds are amplifiers of magic and unleashing the curse could harm not just Pike, but much further.

The Witch’s Council has already given her a pass once and she knows if she doesn’t get the curse back, she will lose her magic for good. And Pike will probably die turning into a mage.

Pike doesn’t know the real reason she is so bent on finding the owl, but he volunteers to go with her.

Along the way, they both will learn a lot about each other, magic, and themselves.

This is a YA book and I can see why it’s popular.

NetGalley/August 2nd, 2022 by Sourcebooks Fire

THE FORCE OF SUCH BEAUTY by Barbara Bourland

Caroline is a former runner. Olympic level runner. She’s well-known and well-loved. Then she has an accident that stops her from running and ruins her career.

When she meets Finn, she doesn’t know he is the prince of a small and very backward country.

Her leash may be made of diamonds but it’s still a leash. Everything she does is carefully examined. Her children are not her children. They all belong to the country. And once she opens her eyes to the bargain she has made, she wants out. She isn’t getting out. Ever.

The concept was good but the execution was not. It felt rushed to me and I did not care for the abrupt ending.

NetGalley/ July 19, 2022, Penguin Random House/Dutton

WHAT MOVES THE DEAD by T. KINGFISHER

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

This one had a bit of everything scary! The war, deadly fungi, ghostly animals, and the House of Usher, already half fallen.

When Alex Easton, now retired from the soldier’s life, receives a letter from his friend, Roderick that tells him he is certain his sister, Madeline Usher, is dying of some unknown cause. Roderick himself sounds odd.

Alex arrives to find the house in shambles. Falling down around them and cold as ice. There is a doctor in residence trying to find out what is wrong with Madeline besides her catalepsy.

To Alex, both of his friends look like wraiths. Thin and pale to the point of looking ghostly. While out walking Alex meets Ms. Potter, who is illustrating and writing about fungi. The deadly ones, the edible ones, and the ones that are just interesting. She is also suspicious of the black lake full of strange algae that glow at night. The same lake that Alex finds Madeline going to each night.

Her sleepwalking is getting worse. And she seems to be confused about words, as well as her shedding. Yes, I said shedding.

The animals are also a mystery. The hares here seem to be off. The whole place seems off. But whatever you are thinking I can almost guarantee you that the ending is not what you thought!

Always a thrilling read with Kingfisher.

NetGalley/ July 12th, 2022 by Tor Nightfire




UPGRADE by BLAKE CROUCH

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

Logan Ramsay works for the Gene Police. They shut down unscrupulous gene-editing labs so what happened with Logan’s mother, never happens again. While Logan spent a little time in prison for what happened, his mother chose to drive off a cliff.

During a raid gone bad, Logan is infected with something. When he wakes up he feels different. More aware. And has a deep ache in his bones. When his boss finds out, he is put in isolation. Lockdown really. But he keeps evolving. Getting stronger, needing less sleep, able to give his full attention to more than one thing at a time. His genome has been hacked.

This isn’t a random attack. This goes way back. But is it even possible? His mother died, right? Unable to do much but answer questions and submit to tests, his abilities just get stronger. Until someone breaks him out. And that someone is his sister. He hasn’t seen her in a while but apparently, she got the upgrade as well. And now she wants to continue her mother’s work. Logan does not. With an uneasy truce between them, they head off to find their mother and the truth.

What she will set in motion could kill millions of people and maybe save the planet. But is the cost too high? Logan thinks it is.

I am not a SciFi reader, except when it comes to this author. I have no idea how he comes up with this stuff, but I can tell you why I fully immerse myself in each book. I felt every change. The tension and heartbreak he carries from leaving his family for the good of the world. You are right there with him. Urging him on and wondering if I would do the same thing.

His books are so good because there is a real possibility that this could happen. And that is scary. Maybe we will all have to evolve into something more to ensure our species survives. And now I can’t stop thinking about that.

NetGalley/ July 12th, 2022 by Ballantine Books





THE GHOSTS OF ROSE HILL by R.M.ROMERO

Magic will burn you up.

Ilana Lopez is a biracial Jewish girl of immigrant parents who want more for her. A stable career, a good man, and a good income.

Ilana dreams of becoming a violinist. And she is talented. But her parents don’t believe she understands how difficult the life of an artist can be. So to teach her that they send her to Prague for the summer to stay with her artist aunt. There she is to study hard for her SAT exam and hopefully learn a lesson.

And she does. She learns about history and music and ghosts and more.

Behind her aunt’s house is an old Jewish cemetery. Overgrown with weeds and left to nature. She is determined to clean the cemetery and while there she meets Benjamin. A boy her own age. Except he is rather dead.

But they talk and while she cleans his grave, he shows her a different side of Prague. One where ghosts live. Everyone is enchanted by her and none so much as the old man Rudolph, who has no shadow, which is odd. He is obsessed with her and her music, even giving her a violin. He then offers to share his magic so she and Benjamin can be together. But Ilana finds out a secret and she is willing to lose this boy she has come to love if it means he can be free.

This is a very different story. A bit of magic, myth, and just a brilliant writing style.

NetGalley/May 10th, 2022 by Peachtree Teen






THE CHANGE by KIRSTEN MILLER

Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick–a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers–putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

Well, that certainly describes this book!

Mattauk is an oceanfront community, where three midlife women are about to make some noise!

Nessa James is alone now that her twin daughters are off to college. In her neat house close to the ocean. A nurse who also sees the dead. A gift inherited from her grandmother. The voices in her head are screaming for help and she has no idea what to do.

Harriett Osborne has had enough of men taking what she has worked hard for. Now her husband has left her for a younger woman and her career has imploded. She returns to her home in Mattauk, and finds her power.

Jo Levison has an 11-year-old daughter and a husband. She’s happy with both. But she is at war. With herself. Her body and what is happening to it. Hot flashes have taken on a whole new meaning.

When the voices Nessa hears lead her to a remote beach by an exclusive housing development for billionaires only, they are there when they find the first body. The police are not part of the solution, but the problem. And the normal rules don’t apply to the sick and fabulously wealthy men who have a lot of secrets.

So the women pool their talents and get to work. Women’s work. Cleaning up the mess of men.

What a thrill of a tale! I loved these women. A strong story of women who are tired of men getting away with murder and are about to turn the tables!

NetGalley/ May 3rd,2022 by William Morrow & Company






IN A GARDEN BURNING GOLD by RORY POWER

In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi, #1)

First in the Argyrosi Series

Before anything can we talk about the stunning cover art on this book? I have to admit this was one time I judged a book by its cover and it was great!

This is a Fantasy/YA/LGBT and much more. I went in knowing nothing and I figured out a lot very quickly.

The book focuses on twins Rhea and her brother Lexos. They have a brother and a sister, all with special gifts. The twins have spent lifetimes serving their father and their house. They control the seasons, the tides, the skies all while trying to keep their unstable father happy.

Every season Rhea must choose a consort that will die with that season. It’s unimaginable. All the different factions are looking to unseat them and take their land and their powers. Until Rhea chooses an unlikely consort and discovers all of the lies she has been fed her entire life. While her brother is off trying to doublecross the other factions, she is returning to open the gates for war. But who will she end up at war with?

This was a beautiful story I thought. The characters were so well done that even the bad ones were interesting.

NetGalley/  April 5th, 2022 by Del Rey

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SUCH A PRETTY SMILE by KRISTI DEMEESTER

Such a Pretty Smile

I finished this book in one sitting. With the lights on and the doors locked.

This is for all the women who don’t want to sit still and look pretty. For the women and girls who have been patronized and marginalized by men.

Told by two rather unreliable narrators. Caroline and her daughter Lila. In 2004 Caroline is living in New Orleans. Girls have been disappearing and the bodies are found mutilated with horrific bites and scratches that leave the media calling the killer The Cur. All are young girls who won’t sit still and look pretty. The ones who refuse to be put in a box. They are opinionated and will not conform to what society wants them to be.

Caroline is having a hard time sleeping. She hears packs of dogs everywhere and loses time. Her fiance’ is also an artist and rather a jerk. Caroline has begun sculpting and the sculptures are disturbing but also gallery-worthy. With her father who is dying and a husband who is a narcissist, she has a lot of stress. Her doctor is patronizing and tells her to take a pill and it will be fine. It is not fine. Not fine at all.

Jump to 2019 and Caroline and her daughter Lila are living close to Atlanta where Caroline is now teaching and sculpting. But she is still haunted by whatever is in her past. And now girls are disappearing and found dead in the same manner as before.

Lila is hiding who and what she is from everyone. Her father and his wife in New Orleans, the school psychologist, and her mother. She feels like there is something inside of her, snarling and begging to be let out, but when she does, it backfires horribly.

I am not going any further with this story because you really need to experience it for yourself. Let me just say it has been a long time since I was this terrified for an entire book!

I can’t wait to see what comes next for this author. Look out, Stephen King!

NetGalley/ January 18th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press





IRON WIDOW by KIRAN JAY ZHAO

While this draws on a few real characters in history, make no mistake, it is a Sci-Fy, Fantasy, Futuristic tale that touches on the place women still have in society. Second. Disposable.

And then it just dives right in to giant fighting machines called Chrysalises, transforming robots that battle with mecha aliens that have almost destroyed everything. The pilots are boys. The girls or concubine pilots give of their life force and no one seems to care that they lose their lives.

Except 18 -year-old Zetian. She has plans of revenge after her sister died during one of these fights. She doesn’t use normal weapons. She takes on her pilot with her mind and is the only one returning. With a nickname. Iron Widow.

She has turned the tables on the boys and will now use them as ‘fuel’. They are afraid of her and what she can do. They try pairing her with the strongest male pilot in Huaxia. But Zetian has tasted the power and she likes it. Now her mission is to find out why only girls are being used and disposed of.

She is one of the strongest characters I have seen. She has had enough and is not taking it anymore. This is not my usual genre but I am very glad I read it. I felt empowered and ready to fight.

Well Done.

NetGalley/September 21st, 2021 by Penguin Teen