Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Review: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

The Lady Society of Lady Scoundrels
(Dangerous Damsels #1)
India Holton
Release: June 15, 2021
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A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She's also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it's a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he's under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her--hopefully proving, once and for all, that she's as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

This book was absolutely bonkers in the best way! I'm not sure what rock I was hiding under but I really thought this was a pure historical romance book and not a fantasy book. But I am not mad that it didn't turn out as I thought.

I will say that it took me a while to get my head into the way the story was narrated but once I was able to immerse myself I didn't look back. I'm not sure how to describe what goes on in this book. At-a-glance, this book is a romance, an adventure, and a tiny bit steampunk with a dash of the piratical all rolled into one hilarious romp! I don't want to say too much because I think this is one of those books that you want to go into a bit blind. I will say that this story is chock full of so many great things that I would have never of thought to put together! Pirates with flying houses! Scoundrels! Assassins! SO many shenanigans! Proper Victorian ladies! Enemies-to-lovers! A master of disguise! Complex family relationships! The literary references and subsequent roasting of said literature! So many book references! It was kind of amazing, to be honest.

I especially loved the flying houses and the weird camaraderie and competition found between members of the Wisteria Society! I had a difficult time at first keeping the characters straight. And I will admit I had a hard time relating to the heroine, Cecilia, at first but I grew to love her by the end of the book. I will say I loved Ned and his friend, Alex, from the moment they appeared on page. 

This alternate version of England with magic and battle houses made me grin from ear to ear. I can't wait to read more books by this author! I am especially looking forward to the next book in this series which will star a certain Irish pirate!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of: 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society
John Scalzi
Release: March
Goodreads Amazon
The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi's first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls "an animal rights organization." Tom's team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn't tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They're the universe's largest and most dangerous panda and they're in trouble.

It's not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that's found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too--and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.
As someone who spent their teen years devouring everything Michael Crichton and Clive Cussler had ever written while simultaneously devouring all the multiverse books, mecha anime, and monster media I could get my hands, this book had everything I could ever want in it! It was like Jurassic Park and Pacific Rim had a nerdy baby and it was so much fun to read!

This was my first John Scalzi book so I didn't know what to expect. But OH MY GOODNESS! I seriously loved everything about this book! The characters! The alternate Earth! The kaiju! The science! It made my little nerd heart sing with joy! I haven't laughed out loud so much at a book in I don't know how long. The dry humor and the banter was SO good! I loved the interactions between Jamie and the other newbies as well as the veterans. Every time Jamie had to go up in the helicopter with Satie I found myself cackling like a madwoman. 

I don't want to say too much about the plot of this book because it's one of those that you need to go into a little blind. Were parts of it predictable? Yes, but I was having so much fun it didn't matter. I read the Author's Note at the end of my ARC when I was trying to figure out what to write for my review and I think Scalzi's words about this book perfectly encapsulate my feelings on the book:

"KPS is not, and I say this with absolutely no slight intended, a brooding symphony of a novel. It’s a pop song. It’s meant to be light and catchy, with three minutes of hooks and choruses for you to sing along with, and then you’re done and you go on with your day, hopefully with a smile on your face."

Mr. Scalzi, your book was indeed the perfect pop song and it put a giant smile on my face! I can't thank you enough for that and I sincerely look forward to rereading it many times in the future when I need a good pick me up. 
I can't recommend this book enough if you're looking for a fun sci-fi read! It is hands down one of my favorite books of the year so far! And I can't wait to get a physical copy to put on my own shelves to sit with the other Scalzi books that I predict I will be reading in the very near future!

 ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of:
Pacific Rim
Jurassic Park
Stargate SG1

Monday, April 4, 2022

Review: Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Delilah Green Doesn't Care
(Bright Falls #1)
Ashley Herring Blake
Release: February 22, 2022
Goodreads Amazon
A clever and steamy queer romantic comedy about taking chances and accepting love—with all its complications—by debut author Ashley Herring Blake.

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancĂ©—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…

One of my reading goals for 2022 is to read more queer romance, specifically more sapphic romance. There is a lot of good hype around this book which always makes me nervous. I shouldn't have been. Delilah Green Doesn't Care lived up to all of my expectations plus some! I loved it so much! It was tender, funny, sexy, and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Struggling artist, Delilah Green, has been hired to photograph her estranged stepsister, Astrid's wedding which means returning to her hometown of Bright Falls. The one she ran away from ten years ago. She doesn't want to go back to the place where she didn't fit in but she needs the money desperately. Her first night back, she gets hit on at the bar by none other than Claire Sutherland, one of her stepsister's best friends. What follows is a series of swoon-worthy sexy times, snark, hi-jinks, and wedding shenanigans that show Delilah that Bright Falls might not be as bad as she remembered.

Delilah and her prickly edges captured my attention from the start. Despite the title and what Delilah thinks, she did indeed care. In fact, I would say she cares a lot. And OMG! The pining! And the snark! All Delilah has wanted was to fit in and be included and it pulled at my heart strings even though she found a place for herself in the world with her tattoos and her art. I wanted her to have a happy ever after and a forever partner before I was done with the first chapter!

Oh! And I adored Claire and her warmth, curviness (stretchmarks and all) and her awesome bisexual energy! And she runs an independent bookstore! In the last few years I have become a fan of the drama that comes with single parent love interests in romance and I quickly fell for Claire's daughter, Ruby. I loved how Delilah wasn't hesitant to step in and lend a hand. I am practically swooning over this romance still days after I finished it! 

But the romance wasn't the only star of this book! The platonic friendships and the familial relationships added so much depth to this story that I would love for each of the main side characters to get their own books. 

I can't wait to read Astrid's book that comes out later this year! And I really, really hope we get an Iris book! If you're looking for an awesome F/F romance, you must go read it immediately! It will definitely be on my top ten favorite books of the year list for sure!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

A Marvellous Light
(The Last Binding #1)
Freya Marske
Release: November 2, 2021
Goodreads Amazon
Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Do you ever read a book and love it so much but can't explain why in words? That is me with A Marvellous Light. I finished it back in February and I have been trying to write a review that is not just me yelling at you to go read this book ASAP! And honestly, stop reading this review right now and go get a copy of this book for yourself.

One of the reasons I adored this is because it made my nostalgic for all the fantasy-of-manners books Teen Me was obsessed with. This book is the queer version of that genre college me wanted so very much! Even better is that it is the first in a trilogy! This series starter is set in Edwardian England and is about a down-on-their-luck, non-magical person discovering that the upper crust noble families of England are secretly magicians and that magic is very much real when a clerical error puts him in position in a government office where his job is to be the civil service liaison to this magical secret society.

I came for the queer romance but the world building, intrigue, and magic system of this book was so exquisitely done that I stayed to see what was going to happen next! Well, and the magical house. The romance was everything though! I love me a good sunshine/grump romance and this book delivered! Robin had my heart within the first chapter and Edwin wasn't too far behind him! This was the historical romance himbo/librarian pairing I didn't know I needed in my life and they seriously needed each other. I am so damn glad that we will be getting more books in this world! 

The next book has Robin's sister, Maud, as the main character and it is taking place on a ship! I cannot wait to read it in all of its sapphic glory! And hopefully we'll see more of Robin and Edwin as well.

ARC provided by the Publisher via Netgalley

  5 /5 Stars!

Recommended for fans of:
A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Page & Sommers Series by Cat Sebastian
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