Reputation by Lex Croucher

If Mean Girls and Emma had a baby, it would be Reputation by Lex Croucher.

Synopsis

After being forced to move in with her aunt and uncle, Georgiana Ellers is desperate to get out of the house, to do anything like the heroines in her favourite books. At a dreadfully dull dinner party, Georgiana meets the breathtaking Frances Campbell, daughter of Lord and Lady Campbell.

Georgiana gets swept up in the extravagant and debauched lifestyle of Frances and her wealthy friends. And, of course, there’s this brooding man, Mr. Hawksley, who is always in the right place at the right time to catch Georgiana whenever she stumbles over her own two feet.

Review of Reputation by Lex Croucher

This book was exactly what I was looking for: something light, fun, and quick to get through. It does have some darker content, but on the whole, it was an amusing read.

The writing style was great too. The author did a superb job of embodying the language of this time, while keeping it fresh.

Reputation is also fairly diverse. I don’t know much about the period, but the author has stated that this era is currently being whitewashed, and she wanted to have racial diversity that represented this time. There’s also queer representation.

My favourite line from the book has to be, “Get in, Georgiana. We’re going shopping.” Iconic.

This was an excellent debut, and I cannot wait to see what else the author comes up with next. I don’t think it’ll be a long wait, since I just saw that they have another one coming out this year.

CW: SA, drug and alcohol abuse.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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For past reviews, click here.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May is full of dark witchy magic with a slow burn sapphic romance.

Synopsis

World War I has just ended, and Annie Mason has arrived on Crow Island to settle her late father’s estate. She quickly falls into a world of dark magic and feels a strong connection to her enigmatic neighbour.

Review of Wild and Wicked Things

This tale alternates between Annie and Emmeline’s perspective with a few others here and there. The writing style is very atmospheric and captures the era well.

Although the writing is beautiful, I felt distant from the characters. Not many of them were particularly likeable, even knowing their origin stories. Usually, I don’t mind reading from unlikeable characters pov’s if they are interesting, but with this one, they felt one-dimensional.

The pacing went at a snail’s pace as well. Not much happens for the first two-thirds of the book, but things did eventually get exciting near the end.

I recommend this book to those looking for a sapphic historical fantasy read.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 29 March 2022

Thank you to Redhook Books for a finished copy to review.

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For past reviews, click here.

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a YA Fantasy novel with an interesting premise, but ended up falling a bit flat.

Synopsis

Myra Whitlock’s parents went missing several months ago, leaving her and her younger sister to fend for themselves. Myra is a portraitist, and can alter people’s bodies via her portraits. She usually resists the urge to do so because her powers are thought abhorrent by some and coveted by others.

Until one night, the governor’s wife blackmails Myra into bringing her son back to life. She has four days before the body begins to rot. Upon her arrival at the governor’s mansion, Myra soon sees clues that the boy’s death was not a mere accident. As she tries to form a whole picture of his death, Myra notices other oddities in this cold home. She enlists the boy’s older brother to help solve this murder and hopefully prevent more.

Review of A Forgery of Roses

I liked that there was some disability representation in this book, it’s not something I often see in fiction. There were lots of discussions on disability, ableism, and anxiety. Although, at one point, Myra described her disabled sister as a “walking corpse.” It’s kind of sad that a loving family member would think of their sister in such a way.

There were also some tropes that I’m not too keen on. Namely, insta–love and a love triangle.

My favourite thing about this book was the magic system. It was an interesting concept and uniquely done.

Although this wasn’t for me, I think frequent readers of YA Fantasy will enjoy it.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 29 March 2022

Thank you to Inkyard Press for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper throws you right into the life of brothels in Pompeii AD 74.

Synopsis

Penniless after her father’s death, Amara’s mother sold her as a concubine. Now, enslaved in one of Pompeii’s most notorious brothels, Amara reminisces on her past life in Greece and dreams of being a freedwoman. She knows it would be next to impossible to buy her freedom from the pittance she earns through tips. So, Amara begins to devise ways of increasing her earnings while staying safe and finding moments of happiness and peace with her friends.

Review of The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

The Wolf Den boldly confronts the violence and trauma that enslaved women experienced in brothels at this time. The tone is fairly dark and fraught throughout, but there are some moments of hope and beauty.

The writing style is clear and easy to read, making this a quick one to get through. It is told entirely from Amara’s perspective.

The author did a superb job of bringing Pompeii and historical figures to life, especially Pliny the Elder. From the text and my own trips to Pompeii, I could easily see the world that Elodie Harper recreated here.

At first, I found this story a bit brash because it plunged right into things and almost seemed like it was trying to be shocking. The language can be quite vulgar and blunt at times. But after a while, that feeling passed, and I could not put the book down.

This first book takes place five years before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, so I am very curious where the next two books will go. I am excited to read more of Amara’s story and armchair travel back to Pompeii.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 29 March 2022

Thank you to Union Square & Co. for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim is an unputdownable start to an epic fantasy trilogy.

Synopsis

Four realms.
Four gods.
Four houses.
Four heirs.

Before the gods cut the realms off from each other, there was a natural flow of energy between them. Since the Sealing, the four realms are all slowly dying. In the City of Dusk, the four rival heirs devise a plan to restore balance to the realms.

Although the heirs are technically vying for the crown, they have formed a loose friendship of sorts over the years. Their quest to save their realm will constantly test their loyalty to each other and their families.

Review of The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

This book has it all: complex world-building, fully-fleshed characters, political intrigue, and an intriguing magic system. While it follows classic fantasy tropes, I could not read it fast enough, especially with frequent mini cliffhangers. It is a long and detailed book, but I never once felt bored while reading it.

It takes cultural inspiration from our world. There’s also some great queer representation.

There are many characters in this book. It took a bit to get a handle on them all. At first, I kept getting two characters mixed up, but their voices became clear soon enough. Taesia Lastrider has to be my favourite character. She will go to any length to seek revenge for wrongs done to her or family.

This book was so gripping right from the beginning. This first book takes place in one realm, but I can’t wait to see how big the world gets in the next instalment.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 22 March 2022

Thank you to Orbit Books for the finished copy to review!

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key should have been a book that I loved, but unfortunately, it fell a bit flat. It has everything I would typically lap up: delicious descriptions of food, secret rooms and staircases, a curse, and classic murder mystery elements.

Synopsis of Under Lock & Skeleton Key

After a near-death experience at one of her popular magic shows, which ultimately ended her career, Tempest Raj finds herself living at home with her parents. She knows her father doesn’t need her help at his Secret Staircase Construction company, but her options are limited.

One day when Tempest is on-site with her father, the crew finds a dead body crammed behind a wall. They have no idea how the body came to be there, and they soon realize that the dead body is Tempest’s former body double.

Tempest believes the murderer was after her because of a family curse that dates back several generations. Although the police make a quick arrest, she refuses to believe they have the real culprit. And so, Tempest embarks on her own investigation.

Review of Under Lock & Skeleton Key

I think I would have enjoyed this novel when I was younger. It’s not clear who is the target audience for this book. Tempest is in her mid-twenties, but the writing style reads on the younger side. I had to double-check how old Tempest was because it felt like I was reading from a much younger protagonist’s pov.

The writing was repetitive as well. It’s not necessary to drill the same points over and over again.

There were parts that I did enjoy. The sections that focused on Tempest’s family dynamics, the scrumptious food descriptions, and when she channelled her inner Hercule Poirot was well-done. There are some mouth-watering vegan-friendly recipes at the end of the book.

Although I didn’t love this novel, I’m sure others will have lots of fun with it. I recommend this to readers that enjoy YA and are looking for a light murder mystery.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 15 March 2022

Thank you to Minotaur Books for providing a review copy via Netgalley.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Lying Club by Annie Ward

The Lying Club by Annie Ward begins as “rich people problems” but slowly turns more insidious.

Synopsis

This slow-burn thriller follows three women in a wealthy Colorado community. There’s Natalie: a young woman working as an office assistant at a private school. Brooke: a mom with more wealth than she could ever spend in her lifetime. Asha: another mom trying to keep up with her daughter’s wishes.

The book opens with Natalie groggily waking up in her car in the school parking lot and trying to remember her actions leading up to this.

Secrets, lies, gaslighting, manipulation, and entitlement make up the majority of this thriller.

Review of The Lying Club by Annie Ward

While not much happens until around the 70% mark, and nearly all of the characters are unlikeable, I still thought the story was compelling. It was interesting seeing how everything tied together. Although, I think a few pages could be trimmed to even out the pacing.

I saw another review compare this to the tv show Euphoria, which is definitely apt. They share a few similarities.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style and will definitely read more of their books!

CW: drug addiction/abuse.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 22 March 2022

Thank you to Park Row for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring is a beautiful story of resilience, identity, and migration.

Synopsis

It follows three generations of a Chinese family from 1938 to the 2000s. The story begins with Meilin, a young woman, forced to flee her home with her son Renshu when Japanese armies invade their village. Throughout many years of moving from place to place, fiercely independent Meilin uses her skills to support her small family.

The narrative transitions to Renshu’s perspective as he grows up and finds his place in the world, all the while trying to forget his past. Renshu shields his daughter from his traumatic childhood, even though she desperately wants to learn her heritage.

Review of Peach Blossom Spring

About sixty percent of this story takes place in China, another location, and the rest in America. The sections that focused on their lives in China were written in stunning and heart-wrenching detail. The ones set in America were still exquisitely told but were slightly less captivating.

This book explores belonging, identity, survival, and generational trauma.

The author was inspired to write this story based on her personal quest of learning her heritage.

This gorgeously written historical fiction account captivated me from its very first page. Before reading this, I knew little about the Second Sino-Japanese War, or the War of Aggression, as it’s called in this work. The story focuses on how the war affected civilians, mainly Meilin and Renshu. And later, how Nationalists and Communists fought for control over China and Taiwan.

Meilin, Renshu, and Lily are characters that will stick with me for some time to come.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 15 March 2022

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

A Far Wilder Magic is a YA fantasy novel teeming with teen angst and ancient magic.

Synopsis

Alone in a crumbling manor, Margaret Welty lives day-to-day, waiting for her mother to return from extended research trips. Her mother is a well-established alchemist who often leaves Margaret alone for months at a time. Due to her religious background, Margaret is an outsider to many in her community.

Then there is Wes Winters. Wes desperately wants to complete an alchemy apprenticeship in order to become a politician and raise his family out of their current struggles. He’s failed out of countless apprenticeships thus far and is nailing his hopes on securing one with Evelyn Welty, Margaret’s mother. When he arrives unannounced at the Welty’s manor, he is stunned to find that Evelyn is away on one of her trips. Margaret is uncertain when she will return. After much persuasion, Margaret agrees to let him stay and wait for Evelyn’s return.

Meanwhile, a hunting competition for a centuries-old fox will be starting soon. Margaret plans to enter with Wes as her alchemist so they both can achieve what they’ve always wanted.

Review of A Far Wilder Magic

This character-driven story alternates between Margaret and Wes’ POV. It’s an easy fantasy to immerse oneself in. There’s a bit of info-dumping in the beginning, but after that, it’s fairly straightforward.

It has themes on religious persecution, belonging, and the many facets of love.

Since the book’s synopsis emphasizes the hunt, I thought it would take up more pages than it did. Alas, the hunt only started in the last 50 (ebook) pages. I was expecting something more in the vein of Hunger Games or the like. But it didn’t take long for me to become invested in Wes and Margaret’s shenanigans. I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and evolve.

This novel works as a standalone, but I really hope that this isn’t the last I’ll see of these characters.

YA Fantasy is hit-or-miss for me, but this one worked so well. I think Adult Fantasy readers may enjoy this book too. Readers who want to dip their toes in Fantasy might find this a good place to start as well.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 08 March 2022

Thank you to Wednesday Books for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead has everything romance readers will love, a messy protagonist, chemistry for days, spice, and laugh-out-loud moments.

It’s official: Ashley Winstead can write any genre, and I will gobble it up.

Synopsis

Lee Stone is Director of Communications for a women-run electric car company. By day, she is the consummate professional, and by night, she is simply Stoner to her closest friends.

After having her heart broken time and again, Lee has sworn off committed relationships and is only looking to have fun.

Her delineated life gets upended when Ben, the last man who broke her heart, returns to Texas, and circumstances force the two to work together. Both are adamant that they are definitely over the other. Soon, the pair fall into their old habits of flirting and competing against each other.

Review of Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

I read and loved Ashley’s debut In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed her romance debut just as much. Romance isn’t my go-to genre, but the wholly relatable characters and humour kept me glued to the story.

I liked that there was more to this story than only the romance. Lee’s friend group were her ride-or-dies and often lovingly called her out. I don’t usually enjoy politics when reading fiction, but they leaned left, which kept me rooting for Lee and Ben to get the job done.

So while there are elements of this novel that I wouldn’t typically go for, Ashley Winstead spins them all together in a fun and compulsively readable way. I will continue to read whatever she writes and cannot wait for her upcoming thriller.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 05 April 2022

Thank you to Graydon House for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.