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

The NATURE of WITCHES by RACHEL GRIFFIN

Climate Change meets Climate Witches in this Contemporary Fantasy/Paranormal Young Adult debut novel.

Witches have been maintaining the climate for a very long time. Their powers are the powers of the seasons. With the sun peaking in the season they are born.

But the humans or shaders have gotten greedy and off-track wanting more of everything without a thought as to how to it will affect the planet or the weather. They aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. Now the witches control over the weather is getting spotty. Witches are being depleted just trying to hold things together while the weather is acting like an out of control toddler.

But there may be hope. Clara is an Everwitch, she is rare and encompasses all of the seasons. But in Autumn Clara wants nothing more than to lose her magic. The power she has is out-of-control. She has already hurt people she loved. She just wants it gone so no one will be hurt. But the weather is hurting everyone.

When Winter comes and the world is raging as disaster after disaster kills more witches Clara finally understands that only she holds the power and answers that may save them all. But first, she needs to get control of her emotions and her magic.

Sang, is helping her with that. Big problem. He’s hot. She’s hot. He’s training her and he has a strangely calming effect on her magic. But will that keep him safe if she loses control?

And when Summer comes she will have to choose between her powers and love. Her responsibility to her fellow witches and her own personal happiness.

First, I don’t read YA. So much angst. Not so for this book. I could have kept on reading if only the author hadn’t stopped writing. I loved Clara. A strong female lead and strong female characters. I adored every person in this book. I look forward to the next one.

June 1st, 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire/ NetGalley Review



CROSSINGS by ALEX LANDRAGIN

Crossings

Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut—a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.

Paris. About to be overrun with Nazis is not the best place for a not only German man but a Jewish one as well. As all-around is chaos and fear, a courier arrives at his bookbinding shop with a manuscript from a Baronness who would like it re-bound in the red leather she sends with it.

Inside are three stories, very unlikely tales. When the Nazis arrive the manuscript is forgotten for a bit and when he retrieves it he keeps it. Later he learns it can be read two ways. Straight through or in a very different way. The fantastical tale is hard to believe and takes us all over the world. The one commonality is Charles Baudelaire. He wrote at least the first one and a lot of this content is about him and a mysterious woman.

That is all I am saying here. This was something I have never seen a writer attempt. The word Epic comes to mind. The planning and detail this took are beyond anything I’ve seen.

Personally, I read it both ways and understood everything just fine. Although at one point I took a few notes to keep everyone straight.

Historical Fiction mixed with fact and fantasy. Well Done!

NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press July 28,2020

The Nobody People by Bob Proehl

The Nobody People

After decades in hiding, a group of outcasts with extraordinary abilities clashes with a world that is threatened by their power.

Great world-building in this tale! It has rather an X-Men feel to it. These are ordinary people that you wouldn’t look twice at. Nobodies. And yet not quite as ordinary as they seem.

They all have abilities. Emmeline was one of my favorites! Fahima was another. Ordinary people with extraordinary gifts. And with those gifts come the people who would use them or destroy them.

This time they will come together to fight the bigots, the small-minded, and the ones who fear what they can not understand. One of them tries to hold on to a shaky sort of peace while the others are ready to stand up and fight.

I see there will be a second in this Fantasy/Science Fiction book. The kids were really interesting and I’m sure this will be a hit with young adults!

NetGalley/  September 3rd, 2019 by Del Rey

 

 

Perfunctory Affection by Kim Harrison

PERfunctory AfFECTION

Is it better to live a lie of perfection when the truth is too ugly to survive?

Meg wants to overcome her crippling anxiety and depression which took hold after her mother’s death and her boyfriend, Austin, is supportive of her. Her therapist starts her on a trial drug what is supposed to cement new patterns in her brain. Or so she says

The pills help her and within days she has met a new friend, been stalked by a crazy man telling her that her friend isn’t real and that the pills will put her in danger. Along with a shady FBI guy who keeps popping up trying to find said crazy man.

Her boyfriend is also telling her something is wrong with the pills and the doctor and her, but she is too determined to take the art world by storm and be accepted by her new friends.

The friends were so creepy I knew they weren’t real. This is Kim Harrison so the fey were bound to be caught up in this.

I’m not sure if it was meant to be just a shorter story or there is more to come, but the ending was abrupt and did not leave me satisfied.

Netgalley/March 31st 2019 by Subterranean Press

 

 

THE SPELLBOOK OF KATRINA VAN TASSEL (A Story of Sleepy Hollow) by ALYSSA PALOMBO

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

Who hasn’t heard the Legend of Sleepy Hollow? It’s long been one of my favorites. Ms. Palombo has given it a different spin.

In the sleepy little village of Sleepy Hollow, a new teacher has arrived. As the wealthiest member of the town, Katrina’s father is hosting him until he finds lodging with his students.

When Ichabod Crane and Katrina meet, there is an immediate connection on both sides and soon they are stealing away to the woods where their friendship turns to passion and love.

The two lovers come from very different worlds and Katrina’s father is determined to marry her off to her childhood friend, Brom Van Brunt, who has become a rather unpleasant fellow vying for her affections.

When Ichabod disappears on All Hallow’s Eve, Katrina is devastated and in a predicament.

With little choice but to marry Brom, she is miserable and her heart still belongs to her love. When she enlists her friend Charlotte’s help to find out what happened, she is shocked to her core.

Could the tale be more than just a scary story? Is the Headless Horseman real? And what will happen when she discovers what happened to Ichabod and who is to blame?

A story of love, magic, and timeless tales. Well Done!

Netgalley/October 2nd 2018 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

Blood and Gold #1

Daughters of the Storm (Blood and Gold, #1)

Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

Five daughters. One Kingdom. Bluebell is a warrior. She strikes fear into the heart of those she meets on and off the battle field and does not suffer fools lightly. I imagined her as Xena. Everything is cut and dried for her. It’s right or it’s wrong based on how it affects the Kingdom and her father. Eventually she will rule.

Rose has been married off to the King of another area that assures peace for both countries. But her heart is with the man she couldn’t have. And her daughter may be his also. She is tender-hearted but can get the job done if need be.

Ash has been hidden away for years studying to become a counselor, but when she is called home when her father becomes ill, she finds herself surrounded with magic and knows she has to leave.

Willow has lived with her Uncle and comes home to find her ill father. She has taken up the faith of another God and is obsessed with it and the voices in her head. She has no loyalty to anyone including her sisters.

Ivy is the flighty, boy crazy one. She has no problem stealing your boyfriend or her sister’s husband. But she gets neither.

Now they must work together to get their father to safety and to find the undermagician who can make him well again. All the while their step-brother is planning on killing Bluebell and taking the throne with his mother as Queen. I did not care for his character. Shallow and calculating, he kills with no care and yet cares tenderly for a blind child.

This is the first book in the series and I found it to be quite entertaining. A new fantasy series in which all of them are just discovering who they are and what they are.

Ms. Wilkins has created smart, conflicted and addictive characters here. I can’t wait for the next one!

Netgalley/Del Ray  Release March 06, 2018

 

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight

A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

This fantastical tale is well written, but I just could not grab a connection to it. The words are inventions and why so many?

It was difficult for me to suspend belief and jump into this fantasy world when I had no idea what some of the words meant and they sure were not in the dictionary!

However I can see how it would appeal to hardcore, world building, fantasy lovers.

Netgalley/SimonandSchuster  February 13, 2018

 

Strange Practice: A Greta Helsing Novel by Vivian Shaw

Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1)

Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.

Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

As the first in this new urban fantasy genre featuring Dr. Greta Helsing, this was quite unlike any I had read before. Yes, the Helsing is from the Van Helsing, but instead of hunting down vampires and sending them to the great beyond, Greta is a physician to the undead. Vampires, Vampyres ( yes there is a difference), ghouls, banshees, demons, mummies,werewolves, you name it and she probably treats it.

The core group of  undead in the book are a colorful and mostly likeable group. When one of their own is attacked and is unable to heal himself, Greta is called in. He has been stabbed with an odd cross-shaped blade containing some type of poison.

There are  a few things going on here at the same time. A killer is loose in London, leaving bodies with cheap rosaries in their mouths. What do these murders have to do with the rogue group of monks murdering undead and human? And what kind of power do these so-called monks have with their weird glowing eyes and murderous ways?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all of the characters. Greta was a bit of a hard one to read in the beginning but by the middle I was enjoying each and every one of them. I mean who knew there were little ghoulettes? Baby ghouls! And making functioning limbs for mummies. There was a lot of fun reading going on with this one and having read the tease for the next one, I will be reading it too!

Well done Ms. Shaw!