Review: A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

Categories: Romance, Fantasy

First Publication Date: 6. November 2020


Synopsis: The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella’s village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town’s only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives… for her.

Everything Luella had thought she’d known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another… but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.

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Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Categories: Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology

First Publication Date: 4 February 2020


Synopsis: They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

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Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads: Milk Fed & All the Birds on the Sky

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

First Publication Date: February 2, 2021


I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Milk Fed is the story of a young Jewish woman who goes through an emotional detox from her mother and meets a woman at a local yoghurt place. She has internalized fatphobia and a severe eating disorder, controlling every minute or her life so as not to get fat. Serious trigger warnings here for eating disorder, self-harm, toxic family relationships and homophobia. I loved the writing in this book, Melissa Broder’s sharp, dry and sarcastic tone makes anything she writes a delight to read. However, I found this book quite uninspired at times and the ending left me thinking – that’s it? Perhaps I’m seriously burned-out from the Disaster Woman trope (as I’ve mentioned a few times), but watching things unfold made me cringe so hard. I just found myself not really wanting to pick this up very often, but at least it was a quick read, and it’s definitely a bold story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi

First Publication Date: January 26, 2016


I had a bit of a mixed experience with All the Birds in the Sky, namely that I loved the world building, thought the whimsical touches really worked for it and the humor was on-point, I even loved some of the characters, but also found myself skimming through the book a lot and I did not care for the ending. This is an adult novel that felt very often to me like middle grade, with its on-the-nose themes, which I did not really enjoy. A lot happens in this 300-page novel, making it feel much longer and be quite an immersive read, so if the writing style works for you, I think this will be a very interesting read!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mini-Reviews of Fall 2020 Releases: When No One is Watching, Burning Roses & Zikora

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Categories: Romantic suspense, Thriller

First Publication Date: 1st September 2020


When No One is Watching is Alyssa Cole’s first thriller, telling the story of Sydney, a young woman who grew up in Brooklyn and now watches her neighborhood change at an unsettling pace and Theo, her new neighbor who is having relationship problems. Both are keeping secrets from others, and when Sydney starts suspecting something darker is at play when her neighbors keep disappearing, she and Theo will try to uncover the truth. This is more a romantic suspense plus contemporary than a thriller in my opinion, even though the story flows quickly and the level of tension goes through the roof by the second half, it does spend a long time developing Sydney and Theo’s relationship and explaining gentrification, its history and effects on Black neighborhoods. This was a fascinating read, and it definitely delivers on the Get Out vibes. I am not a fan of romantic suspenses/thrillers, but this really worked! It goes into very dark territory (that I will not list so as not to spoil the story) but also mundane, daily horror and violence which adds an eerie quality to the story. This is an illuminating, dark and unflinching book but also hopeful and full of love. You can feel on the pages how much love was poured into this story, which is ultimately about community and taking care of each other, and also preserving history while maintaining a critical eye. I’m impressed!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Review: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes

Categories: Literary Fiction, Translated

First Publication Date: 6th October 2020 (translation)


Synopsis: The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse has the whole village investigating the murder. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters—inners whom most people would write off as irredeemable—forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

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eARC Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Category: Thriller

First Publication Date: 30th June 2020


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

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eARC Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

Categories: Thriller

First Publication Date: 13th October 2020


I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.

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Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Category: Horror

First Publication Date: 14th July 2020


Synopsis: A tale of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

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eARC Review: Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko

Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey

Category: Fantasy, Translated Fiction

First Publication Date: 11th February 2020


I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis:

Late one night, fate brings together DJ Aspirin and ten-year-old Alyona. After he tries to save her from imminent danger, she ends up at his apartment. But in the morning sinister doubts set in. Who is Alyona? A young con artist? A plant for a nefarious blackmailer? Or perhaps a long-lost daughter Aspirin never knew existed? Whoever this mysterious girl is, she now refuses to leave.

A game of cat-and-mouse has begun.

Claiming that she is a musical prodigy, Alyona insists she must play a complicated violin piece to find her brother. Confused and wary, Aspirin knows one thing: he wants her out of his apartment and his life. Yet every attempt to get rid of her is thwarted by an unusual protector: her plush teddy bear that may just transform into a fearsome monster.

Alyona tells Aspirin that if he would just allow her do her work, she’ll leave him—and this world. He can then return to the shallow life he led before her. But as outside forces begin to coalesce, threatening to finally separate them, Aspirin makes a startling discovery about himself and this ethereal, eerie child.

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