“Maggie Finds Her Muse” by Dee Ernst

I was in the midst of a romance reading phase when I requested this from NetGalley. However, when I started reading it, I was so annoyed by the protagonist after a few pages that I gave up on the book planning not to return to it.

But I did. I gave it another chance and after working past the first chapter, the story became interesting to me and even enjoyable. I managed to finish it and quite liked it too.

(Although I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, it does not influence the thoughts I share about my reading experience below.)

Genre

Contemporary; Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

April 2021

From Goodreads

A sparkling romantic comedy starring a bestselling author who goes to Paris to overcome writer’s block and rediscovers family, independence, and love along the way.

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“Dragon Wing” by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

A book with dragons! 😊 Since completing Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, Emily at Embuhleeliest (my buddy-reader in all things Hobb) and I have been searching for a long, chunky fantasy series to get stuck in. Dragon Wing was the first book we decided to try in our search for a new series to read. But although it started out pretty good, it fell flat for me toward the end.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Death Gate Cycle, book 1

Pubbed

1990

From Goodreads

Ages ago, sorcerers of unmatched power sundered a world into four realms — sky, stone, fire, and water — then vanished. Over time, magicians learned to work spells only in their own realms and forgot the others. Now only the few who have survived the Labyrinth and crossed the Death Gate know of the presence of all four realms — and even they have yet to unravel the mysteries of their severed world…

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“The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry” by C.M. Waggoner

I’m here shaking my head at myself because I read this back in early April and am just now getting around to the review — a whole one month later. I keep procrastinating on the books I enjoyed reading the most. I feel like I won’t be able to do the book justice to let y’all know how awesome they were and that, yes, you really should get a copy and read it too!

I buddy-read The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry with Millie at Milliebot Reads. We had read Waggoner’s debut novel Unnatural Magic together and enjoyed it (and loved the cover) so much that we were eager to pick up the second book together too. It turned out to be a really good read (with a beautiful cover) as well.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

n/a

Pubbed

January 2021

From Goodreads

A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic.

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“In the Garden of Spite” by Camilla Bruce

This is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Thanks to Mogsy and Tammy for telling me about it in their reviews. What made me want to read it?

Well, the first bit of info that sparked my interest is that the story is about a female serial killer. I’ve only read one other novel that focuses on such a character — My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, which was a propulsive read. I assumed In the Garden of Spite would be the same, so I quickly added it to my TBR.

Then, from Mogsy’s review, I learned that the novel is like a character study. We observe the protagonist justifying “being the monster, rationalizing her degeneracy and why she must do what she does,” which fascinated me and made me quickly hop on my library’s website to place a hold on the book. I got lucky and got an early placement in the queue for it. And now I can say it was a really good read.

Genre

Historical; Thriller; Horror

Series

n/a

Pubbed

January 2021

Goodreads summary

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

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“Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour

I guess I’ve been in a blogging slump lately because I’ve been doing everything possible to avoid typing up book reviews, and I’m not exactly enthused to do other posts either. I don’t know why this is, but if it wasn’t for Wyrd & Wonder (and an ARC I need to review), I probably wouldn’t be doing much on my blog. As such, I’m WAY behind on reviews. Here’s the beginning of my attempt to catch up.

I read Black Buck in mid-March — that’s how long I’ve been procrastinating on writing up this reflection on it. It’s one of the most surprising books I’ve read this year. I read it for a bookclub I’m part of with two friends. However, my friends were more eager than I to read it. Actually, I was very against reading this book. I didn’t know much about it other than that it’s about some guy working on Wall Street and that fact alone made me immediately dislike it and assume I would hate it and probably not even finish the book. I didn’t want to put myself through that torture. But I was so wrong.

Genre

Contemporary; Humor – satire

Series

n/a

Pubbed

January 2021

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“Kushiel’s Chosen” by Jacqueline Carey

I finished Kushiel’s Chosen quite a while ago but, as usually happens when I love a book too much, I procrastinated on the review because I don’t know what to say or where to begin. So, as is also usual, I’ve decided to just start typing and hope it all makes sense by the end. 🙃

Kushiel’s Chosen is the second novel in a trilogy that I was introduced to by the Wyrd & Wonder crew, who have hosted readalongs for the first book and this one. It’s a high fantasy story set in a world that is heavily influenced by European culture, history, and mythologies. The story is mostly set in Terre D’Ange, a country peopled by descendants of angels, and focuses on a young woman named Phèdre, who spent most of her childhood growing up in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, a.k.a. the Night Court, which is dedicated to the service of the angel Naamah. Members of the Night Court are molded into courtesans. They see copulation in service to Naamah as sacred, which Phèdre wholeheartedly believes.

The angels are, of course, regarded as gods. Because Phèdre has a red mote in her eye, she is considered marked by Kushiel, who is considered the punisher among the angels, and god-touched. Kushiel’s chosens are called anguissettes and, due to being chosen by such a god, tend to derive pleasure from pain. Thus, as a servant of Naamah and marked by Kushiel, the services Phèdre partake in are often masochistic.

In addition to all that, Phèdre was also trained as a spy and is often wrapped up in whatever major political machination is in play or is trying to find out about it. So, much of the plot’s drive comes from political intrigue. It all makes for a very compelling read!

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“The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn, narr. by Rosalyn Landor

Yea, I’m one of those who watched and was hooked on Netflix’s Bridgerton. The drama and all the gossiping in it made it very entertaining, but it was the costumes and the acting itself that lured and held my interest throughout.

Since learning that it’s based on a novel, I’ve wanted to read the source material ever since to find out what happens next and to see in what ways it defers from the show. So, when I saw that the audiobook was available at my library, I quickly downloaded and began listening to it. It, too, was very entertaining.

Genre

Romance; Historical Fiction

Series

Bridgertons, book 1

Pubbed

2000

Quick summary

Taking inspiration from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (and probably other classic novels I do not know of), The Duke & I centers on the large Bridgerton family whose matriarch wants to see her children married off well. The story focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, who was recently introduced to society but hasn’t had many suitors, probably because her older brothers (there are three of them) are a bit intimidating.

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“The Colour of Magic” by Terry Pratchett

Surprisingly, I struggled to read this one. I picked it up in February to read for a Turtle Recall readalong, but it took me the entire month of February to complete it. I didn’t expect to struggle so much with a Discworld book.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Discworld, book 1
Rincewind, book 1

Pubbed

1983

Quick Summary

The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, a satirical fantasy series set in a flat world that lies on the backs of four large elephants — Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon, and Jerakeen — that stand on the pockmarked shell of a giant turtle, the Great A’Tuin, who’s flying through space. It contains four short stories centered on the adventures of Rincewind, a failed wizard who dropped out of Unseen University after learning just one spell, as he tries to protect Twoflower, a tourist visiting Discworld from the Counterweight Continent with his Luggage made of sapient pearwood in tow. The Luggage follows Twoflower wherever he goes.

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“Raybearer” by Jordan Ifueko

I read Raybearer in January for a book club and had a great time with it. The story was easy to fall into, and I loved the worldbuilding. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it.

Well… that’s a lie. It’s YA fantasy and these days I keep assuming that YA fantasy means “YA romance with some fantasy” that I often avoid such books. But stories like Raybearer are getting me interested in YA fantasy again.

Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

Raybearer, book 1

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

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“Wrapped Up in You” by Talia Hibbert, narr. by Selina Scott-Bennin & Philip Batley

This novella was very popular this past Christmas. Since I was in the mood for romance novels at the time, I added it to my TBR. But I didn’t get to it until this January. I picked it up shortly after completing Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown. That story was entertaining and made me want to try more of Hibbert’s work.

I borrowed the audiobook of Wrapped Up in You from the library. Unfortunately, despite the many claims of how good this story is, it didn’t work for me and effectively threw me out of my romance mood.

Genre

Contemporary; Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

Continue reading ““Wrapped Up in You” by Talia Hibbert, narr. by Selina Scott-Bennin & Philip Batley”