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    Monday Minis

    Today’s Monday Minis bring you supernatural crime, a real-life serial killer and a Spanish inspired magical murder-mystery. Very bloody week, I must say! I received eARCs of all of these via NetGalley, many thanks to the respective publishers. All opinions are my own.

    Shadow Service by Cavan Scott and Corin Howell (Colourist Triona Farrell, Letterer Andworld) is a new ongoing comic series – the first bind up volume was released in April. It centres on wirch Gina Meyers, a private investigator in London, and her encounters with London’s supernatural criminal underworld and the policing agency referred to as MI666. There is some interesting stuff in here, though it is grittier than I expected going in. It’s more of a Grimdark story than a cute witchy urban fantasy. To be entirely honest, I wasn’t blown away by this first volume, but the ending left me intrigued enough to pick up the second one and give the series another chance. I feel that the characters haven’t really had too much of a chance to develop yet as it’s very action focused and I would prefer to get a bit more down time and get deep and personal with Gina and the peeps from MI666 – and yes, even with Gideon…

    Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce is an odd one. I’m not sure how much I actually liked the book, but I couldn’t put it down at all. This is the story of Belle Gunness, one of the few female serial killers in history. And to clear up any confusion, this same book was published earlier this year in the US as In The Garden of Spite – I was a bit confused myself there. While based on a historical tale, this is fiction. The story follows Belle/Bella from her childhood in Norway through to her supposedly faked death in a fire in middle age. It is an utterly compelling story, but also an uncomfortable one. Bella is an absolute sociopath and I kept waiting for someone to pick up on what she was doing and to actually do something about it – and it felt like people were so close so many times, but it just never happened. I hated her and pretty much every other character in the book so damn much and that makes writing about the book kind of hard. But if you’re into true crime and villains, do check this out!

    Oculta by Maya Motayne is the second book in the Forgery of Magic Trilogy. Following up on 2019’s Nocturna, this continues the story of Alfie and Finn as they grapple with the consequences of what happened in the first book. Finn finds herself reluctantly leading a gang of thieves as she is thrust into the position of thief lord, while Alfie has to thread his way through court politics and diplomacy as the Englassen royals come to visit the Castellan court for peace negotiations. Together they are once again drawn into a huge conspiracy… I didn’t enjoy this sequel quite as much as I did the first book, I found it dragged at times and I struggled to keep myself focussed. There are parts that I loved – the introduction of tattoo magic was brilliant, but others that were a bit too on the nose for my taste – some new characters were introduced only to betray the main characters in ways that were rather predictable. It also felt like the twists the book took were either entirely forseeable or not foreshadowed at all. I prefer revelations that are unexpected but make sense in retrospect, and I felt like that wasn’t the case with this. I’ll probably still pick up the last book in the trilogy, even if Oculta suffered from middle-book-syndrome.

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    Monday Minis

    Once more onto the breech, my friends. It is Monday once more. I received review copies of all of these books, but as always, opinions are entirely my own.

    This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin is a weird one. Out earlier this month from riverrun, this is a sort of spy thriller set in the tech industry around Michael who is drawn into a cryptocurrency conspiracy after his girlfriend’s death. It is extremely fast-paced and tension is high throughout – though at the expense of logic consistency. I struggled a lot with the voice, the urgency with which the story was told grated on me after the first few dozen pages and felt repetitive and annoying. Through the tone of the story and the constant secrecy the characters uphold even with each other, the reader doesn’t really know anything about any of them, even at the end of the story, so for me it was very hard to get invested in the book. A gripping plot is not the only thing that I need to like a book – I need characters I care about, I need emotional investment, I need a compelling voice. And sadly, the only thing that kept me reading was that This Eden had a good hook.

    Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams will be published in July by Harper. This is a solid murder-mystery thriller. The story revolves around Heather, whose mother has just killed herself – and while tidying up her affairs, Heather finds a bunch of letters her mother had been exchanging with a convicted serial killer. But despite him being behind bars, new victims are being found in the same distinctive manner… Heather is pulled into the investigation whether she wants to or not, as she is innately connected to the mystery at hand. I found the story compelling, relateable and compulsively readable. However, some twists were very predictable – I saw some parts of the ending coming from very early on in the story and was just waiting for the resolution to happen. It’s not a perfect book, but a very solid one for fans of the genre. Worth a shot if you like twisty murdery books!

    I was super excited for Star Eater by Kerstin Hall, published last week by Tordotcom. So obviously I was thrilled to be able to review an audio ARC, but sadly I didn’t love this as much as I expected to. Star Eater is a story about cannibal nuns – a religious sect who gain magical powers through eating the flesh of their martyred mothers. The book centres on Elfreda Rahn, who is drawn into an intricate political web, where she plays a role she never expected. I never expected I’d say this but this political fantasy about cannibal nuns needed more politics, religion and cannibalism. It felt like the story was trying to go in too many directions at once, doing too many things, and lost sight of the concept. There is certainly a lot of interesting stuff in here, and I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s also nothing that is outstanding. In some ways, this felt unfinished – I think it might have worked better as a novella, shorter, but focused on only one aspect and exploring that in detail, maybe even as a series of novellas. The way it is now, it lost a lot of its emotional impact through bombarding the reader with a ton of different strands and relationships that aren’t properly explored.

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    Monday Minis

    Sorry for letting you all down last week by not writing any Monday Minis! I got my vaccine over the preceding weekend and it killed me. It took me quite a few days to recuperate from the ensuing fatigue and insomnia – great combination, if I may say so. Pretty much everything on the blog this past week was stuff I’d wisely pre-scheduled, but at least I got a bunch of reading done. So back to your regular barrage of books now! All of these are digital review copies I received from the publishers through NetGalley, and as usual all opinions are my own.

    Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise and Oscar O. Jupiter is an adorable YA graphic novel. Like all my favourite graphic novels, it is queer as hell and super cute. This one is out in August from Oni Press. Annie is a grumpy lesbian in her senior year of high school – and her mum and teachers are on her case because she lacks extracurriculars for her college applications (don’t get me started about how shitty I think THAT system is). So she reluctantly ends up joining the cheer squad – where BeeBee, the only trans girl for miles is basically bullied into being captain to make everyone else look and feel good. But Annie gets more than she’s bargained for when she falls for BeeBee and both of them find their confidence and shed their outward masks of “the rebel” and “the people pleaser” they use to cope. I loved this little story so much and I really hope that we get more installments – it’s perfect for fans of the Fence series!

    Some Faraway Place by Lauren Shippen is the third novel to go with The Bright Sessions podcast. This one is Rose’s story. It’s the first novel I’ve read, though I’ve listened to the whole of the podcast and really enjoyed the audiodrama. I feel like the book itself doesn’t work if you don’t have the context of the podcast – though I might feel differently if I hadn’t listened to it and only read the earlier books. The TL:DR is that in this world, there are humans who have special abilities, so-called Atypicals. There are two central places they go for help – a government agency referred to as the AM and a therapist operating largely independently, Dr. Bright. Rose, the main character of Some Faraway Place is in her late teens, dreams of being a chef and comes from a family of Atypicals when she realises that she can dreamwalk. The story follows her as she explores her ability, meets a cute girl, falls in love, through a lot of family and relationship drama and gives a different perspective to quite a bit of the events of the podcast. However, I feel like my enjoyment of this was hampered a lot by having listened to the audiodrama first. I knew about a lot of the twists before they happened and I didn’t think the writing itself was strong enough to work as a novel. Loved the characters and base material, this… not so much. Out from Tor Teen in August!

    The Gatekeeper’s Staff is the first in the TJ Young & The Orishas series by Antoine Bandele, out in July from Bandele Books. I got to listen to an audio ARC (which, best thing ever!) – the audio was really well done with sound effects and transitions, one of the best audio adaptations I’ve listened to recently. In its basic concept, it is reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series – boy realises that he is special and goes to magic summer camp where he defeats a major threat. But that’s where the similarities end. This is based on the West African mythology of the Orisha – I loved learning more about them and Nigerian culture, as The Gatekeeper’s Staff is deeply rooted in Black American and Nigerian spaces. TJ has always considered himself the dud of a family where everyone but him has powers, and his older sister is the golden child. When she dies unexpectedly, and they are attacked by the Keepers at her funeral, he discovers that he is not as powerless as he thought and is invited to a magical summer camp. He jumps at the chance to discover his magic and find out what truly happened to his sister. This is a fun story, which also fits nicely into the teen space between middle grade and YA, which is often neglected. TJ is fourteen, and while there is a very soft romance, it is slow and blossoming rather than the full on kind that often shows in true YA. I really recommend this to anyone who is growing out of the age range of middle grade and is looking for their next adventure.

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    Monday Minis

    Welcome back to another round of Monday Minis, aka Fab reads too much and can’t keep up with writing full length reviews for everything… Massive thanks to the respective publishers for sending me eARCs for review via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

    All Eyes on Her by L. E. Flynn is an interesting book. It’s a YA mystery, in which the reader hears from everyone involved, except for the main character. Tabby’s boyfriend died on a hike they went on – and now she is accused of his murder. The story is told in fragments from many of the people in their lives, and it is not made clear what actually happened until the very end, keeping the reader guessing. But because it is so fragmented, I felt like the story lost its drive and tension didn’t build up the way it should have. Once it got to the reveal, I didn’t care much about how it ended. Nevertheless, the concept and set-up is interesting and unique, even if it didn’t fully work for me.

    What We Devour by Linsey Miller is a dark YA fantasy. I loved her previous book, Belle Révolte, which came out last year. So I had very high expectations for this one, and I ended up quite disappointed. It’s not a bad book – but it lacks the mind-blowing magic that made me fall for Belle Révolte. What We Devour is the story of Lorena, who is hiding out as an undertaker so the powers that be don’t take notice of her, in a world that is ruled by the Door that is supposed to keep back the Vile. But then she does get involved in a major threat to her world, and has to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to save as many as she can. What frustrated me about the story is that none of the characters seem to have a lot of personality, which I expected from the story. This made me not connect with the story and struggle to stay motivated to read it. This might me a me-thing more than a book thing – so if the blurb has you interested, check out a sample.

    The Conductors by Nicole Glover is a delightful murder mystery where the Underground Railroad meets magic. From the blurb: “As an escaped slave, Hetty Rhodes helped dozens of people find their own freedom north using her wits and her magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband, Benjy, still fight for their people by solving the murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch.” I really enjoyed my reading experience, though this is not a perfect book. I felt like the plot was a bit thin, and the mystery itself not very compelling in itself. What I struggled most with is that the book reads as if it was from the middle of a series rather than the start of a new one. But The Conductors makes up for that with superb character work. Hetty and Benjy have a wonderful rapport and the way their relationship grows – chef’s kiss. They are interesting and multi-dimensional characters, along with the side-players in this story. The characters in this are so strong that I did not mind the plot as much, and I am looking forward to spending more time with them in the next installment.

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    Monday Minis

    And welcome to another week of Monday Minis! This one is called Fab tries to catch up to NetGalley…

    The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky is a Tor.com Publishing novella about a woman with perfect memory setting out to be a God-King’s Amanuensis. To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself. However, it was written in a very experimental form, closer to highbrow literary fiction than what readers of speculative genre fiction are more used to. I struggled to connect with the story, especially due to its fragmented, second-person narrative, and so this ended up really not being a book for me. I have been realising more and more that, with a few exceptions, I am really more of a straight-forward narrative type if I get the choice. I prefer stories that are experimental in content rather than form, if that makes sense. But I can totally see how this would be brilliant for readers who appreciate authors playing with form, and who are more avant-garde than I am.

    The Star Host by F.T. Lukens has been on my TBR for far too long (I’m so sorry!). This is a sci-fi adventure in which young Ren discovers that he has technopath powers – which he’d not even known were a possibility. Because of this, he ends up a prisoner, as he is deemed too dangerous to be left free. Desperate to escape confinement and avoid being used, he bonds with his cell-neighbour Asher, and they hatch an escape plan, making the second half of the book a traditional sci-fi romp through space. It is a fun read, compelling and I loved the tender slow-burn relationship between Ren and Asher. But it also doesn’t really do anything new, and I felt like I’ve read this before. Thus, it ended up not really standing out for me, even though I enjoyed my reading experience.

    Last, but not least, Witherward by Hannah Mathewson (this was by far my favourite out of this batch). This is a YA/crossover portal fantasy set in London – which I loved because I’ve been to many of the places mentioned. Ilsa, seventeen, is a foundling with shapeshifting powers, making a living as a pickpocket when she finds out about a whole other London, the family that abandoned her and much more. This is a really intriguing debut, well-written with interesting characters. I didn’t quite fall in love with it – I’d rate it a solid 3.5 stars – but it’s certainly a book to look out for, and an author to watch. I am curious where the story will take this next, and this is the kind of book that can scratch your itch for a comfortable, escapist fantasy read.

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    Monday Minis

    Welcome to a new feature. I’m going to try and put up mini-reviews every Monday (or, indeed, most Mondays as I suspect will be closer to reality). These will be books I feel like I don’t have much to say about, backlog reviews I’m catching up on reading and writing, and perhaps even the odd book that I read for myself and decide to write a little bit on. So basically a sort of catch-all for my chaotic brain – which doesn’t mean that these books don’t deserve your attention! I’ve just noticed that I’m struggling to write lately, and mini-reviews help me get some thoughts on the page, and so I’m trying to save my energy for the books I have a lot to say about.

    The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould is a queer supernatural YA thriller mystery. It’s a complete genre mashup, and that aspect of it worked really well. It follows Logan, whose TV-paranormal-inspector dads have just brought her back to their hometown, only to find teens going missing. In this tiny town – think a high school senior class of ten students – Logan and her family aren’t welcomed back with open arms, but suspicion, both due to the recent disappearances and the lack of tolerance for queer couples. Eventually, Logan teams up with local teen Ashley, whose boyfriend is one of the missing kids, to try and solve the mysteries of the town before it’s too late. And honestly, the concept is pretty great and I loved the bi rep. But the execution kept frustrating me to no end. It is one of those books that rely on characters not actually communicating, and that is one of my biggest pet peeves in stories. There were also quite a few moments where I felt that plot/character arcs didn’t progress naturally but in a rather stilted way. I think I’m curious to pick up another book by the same author to see how she grows, but the flaws that this one had keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending it.

    Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria has dragons. And dragon hunters. So there’s a great concept hook there that made me devour the book immediately. Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned. Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. However, my enthusiasm for dragons and the bond they can establish with humans – and the unlikely one between a hunter and a dragon that is at the centre of the story wasn’t enough to keep me enthusiastic about this. I thought the concept and the world building was great, but ultimately the plot and characters left me feeling disappointed. I was expecting to love this one much more than I did, especially as I really liked the beginning of the story. I just noticed my emotional investment slipping more and more as I got further into it. I might pick up a sequel, we’ll see. But it’s definitely entertaining, so if you like dragons and are looking to fill an evening with light fantasy, go for it.

    Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer confirms her as the Queen of Queer once again. This light YA rom-com features Larissa Bogdan, a bisexual high school student who is coming to terms with her sexuality with the help of a summer spent with Jasmine and a long-term crush on Chase, the school’s most popular football player. It is a fun and lighthearted romp, with a lot of pop-culture references thrown in and much love to books and nerdy culture. It is very much YA aimed at a teen demographic – which meant that I wasn’t as in love with it as I hoped to be, but teen me very much would have. And one of my favourite details of the book was that quite early on, when Larissa was asked about her sexuality, whether she was into boys, girls, or both, the asker immediately added that ace and aro was just as valid and welcome. Dahlia Adler, Queen of Queer, we stan.

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    More YA Mini Reviews

    These are three mini reviews for books that were perfectly ok, but just didn’t stand out to me really. I didn’t fall in love with any of them, but they do all have things that speak for them. I received eARCs from the publishers for all three, but all opinions are entirely my own.

    Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft had a very promising set-up but did not manage to actually follow through on it in execution. It is half gothic mystery in a mansion, half epic fantasy, and I could not have cared less for the epic parts of it. I wish that the story had actually focused on the gothic mystery and explored those elements in depth, rather than trying to do too much and not doing any of it properly. This story has an explicitly bisexual lead – but is there much done with that? Nope. Just like so much of the story, it is another missed opportunity. Part of me hopes that the eARC I read was actually still a major edit away from the finished version, because this has SO MUCH potential. I really wanted to like it, but instead I felt it was very mediocre in terms of plot, characters and worldbuilding.

    All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace is the follow-up to last year’s All the Stars and Teeth. While I felt a bit ambivalent about the first book, I thought that book two did a lot of things better. Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses. After the first book centering on reforming the world, this second installment focuses on how to figure out whether the way Amora sees the world going is the way that is best for society, or whether it needs much deeper change. It is a sequel that isn’t afraid to ask bigger questions and doubt itself. And all this is packaged in a compelling YA fantasy that if not outstanding is certainly solid and entertaining. If you liked book one, I recommend book two, and I generally think this is a duology worth reading if you’re looking to pass the time.

    The Bright & The Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski is a Russian inspired epic fantasy story about a frozen world, a heroine, a long lost, believed-dead friend and a looming threat. It is also incredibly forgettable – I don’t think a single thing that happened or any of the characters have left any sort of lasting impression on me in the days since I finished reading this. The cover for this is so pretty that I really wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t. I struggled getting into it and I think because of the lack of character depth (and maybe my general mental state) I just kind of skimmed over it? I do think that it will find its readership, but that reader is not me.

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    Automatons, Fae and Aliens

    Cryptic title today. But it’s simply the main themes of the three novels that get mini reviews here: This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria, A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth and Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake. I received NetGalley ARCs of all of these – thank you so much to the respective publicists – and as usual, all opinions are my own.

    This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria is the story of Karis, a girl separated from her family long ago. She lives on an island belonging to the Scriptorium, a faction set on reactivating an automaton army. But then, Karis accidentally awakens Alix, an automaton with a mind of his own who has been deactivated for two centuries. This starts her on a quest that involves finding her family and rebellion. It is a compelling YA novel about standing up against an oppressive regime and fighting for what you believe in, but not an outstanding one. It feels like quite a few other recent titles, fitting well into the market but not innovating it. What I did really like about This Golden Flame is that Karis is outspokenly ace, and the story focused on friendships rather than romance. You can order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth is a YA fantasy romp. Set in Toronto around a group of (more or less) teens with supernatural backgrounds – there are fae, there is an ex-fury and more – the main characters try to solve a string of murders before it is too late. It is very queer, and it is a lot of fun. But ultimately, the story didn’t live up to my expectations. I found the characters flat and felt little emotional investment. I simply did not care what happened. It is a perfectly solid book though, great escapism, and I can see how it would likely work better for readers who are huge fans of the Folk of the Air series or Sarah J. Maas’s books. Copies are available from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake is set in Alaska, which makes it stand out. It is the story of Emily and her ‘brother’ Aidan, who turns out to be an alien, triggering a protective reflex in humans. They are on the run from pursuers, and on the way to a facility that will let Aidan call for rescue from Earth. It is a compelling read, flies by very fast, but there isn’t much substance to it. It felt like it kept missing the mark for me, whenever I thought that we were going to get some emotion and depth, the story moved on. It is clearly YA based on the MC, but from the way themes were addressed it had more of a MG feel to it. And that made the whole book seem a bit disjointed to me. I still enjoyed reading it, but I’m not really tempted to pick up more of the author’s work. Copies are available via Bookshop here, if you’re tempted (affiliate link).

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    YA Mini Reviews!

    Wench by Maxine Kaplan is one of those books I picked up because it sounded vaguely interesting, but I ended up liking a lot more than I expected. It is the story of a tavern wench, Tanya, who, after losing the tavern she was supposed to inherit, accidentally bonds with a magical quill that had been stolen. This is the start of a life she has never imagined possible. Wench is funny, addictive and sweet. It is also queer (I think Tanya is either bi or pan and likely poly, but because of the setting it’s not addressed directly). This is YA escapist fantasy how it should be. Don’t expect a deep story but be prepared to disappear into fantasy land for a few hours. Order a copy via Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Now, it’s no secret that I love fairy-tale like stories, especially twisted ones. And The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A. Harwood is one of the good ones. It is a story in which the main character, Ella, goes from innocent Cinderella-type to the villain in her own story. She is offered a deal by her fairy godmother, but this is no Disney fairy. It corrupts here and unaware, Ella does things she never thought possible of herself. I devoured this deliciously dark story and can’t wait to read more of the author. It is the kind of book you get emotionally invested in and suffer along with the characters. Give this twisty tale a shot! Order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine has been out for a while, but I only read it recently (why am I so terrible with reading books I should read?!). This is a story of a future in which Earth has been contacted by aliens, the Leviathan. Think of them as a sort of giant space whales. Each year, a group of humans gets invited to join the Leviathan on a journey through space, using them as a sort of living spaceship. And now Zara Cole, who grew up on the streets as part of a criminal gang, has been invited. She travels into space on board Nadim, and learns about the universe in ways she did not expect. I read this in a single sitting, it is so addictive. I was very excited because this is a story that focuses on character building and friendship rather than romance. I wouldn’t classify this fully as an asexual series, as it goes a bit into that in the second volume, but I would definitely recommend it as a book that goes in that direction. The authors have managed to build a fascinating world in this series, although I didn’t love book two as much as the first one. Still need to read the third, but I’m really looking forward to it! Order a copy via Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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    Mini reviews

    Fab tries to catch up with her reviewing challenge. So have some more mini reviews to make space for bigger features again. Work is kicking my ass so I don’t get around to reading and blogging as much as I’d like…

    A Summoning of Souls by Leanna Renee Hieber is the last in her Spectral City trilogy. It is a solid last installment, wrapping up many of the story threads from previous books nicely. I breezed through this supernatural mystery about a medium in NYC, and her coven of girls who help the police with crimes including ghosts. I love Eve, the main character, and her budding relationship with Detective Jacob Horowitz is a big draw of these books. They are fast paced and entertaining, full of loveable protagonists. If you’re looking for supernatural detective stories with a romance element, I suggest you check this series out! Order a copy from Blackwell’s here.

    The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst is a wonderful story of necromancy, the corruption of power and the aftermath of winning a war. Twenty-five years ago, Kreya and her friends defeated the evil necromancer Eklor. Since then, Kreya has been obsessed with finding a way to give her dead husband a second life. Now, she has finally managed with the help of an old friend. But as they travel to the old battle grounds, they figure out that Eklor isn’t really gone, and return to him having found a way to gain power again. But does her experience with necromancy make her evil too? This is a story in which these gray areas are explored in detail. Like so few books it looks at what happens after a big win, and how so-called heroes deal with their past and having a future after it seemed impossible. If you’re into murky morals and interesting world-building, this is a book for you. Pre-order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers is not technically a book I have to review. I bought it myself, and it blew my mind in the best possible way. It is the story of Grace Porter, a fresh PhD graduate in Astronomy, raised by a military father who insisted on achievement. To celebrate her graduation, she travels to Las Vegas with her two best friends, and accidentally gets married to Yuki Yamamoto. Lost in her life now that she has reached her goal, which she’s worked for for years, Grace decides to give this stranger she married a shot and spends the summer in New York with Yuki. Honey Girl is heartwarming, but also evil – as someone around Grace’s age, many of her struggles (including with mental health issues) feel familiar, and the way she is looking for her next steps hits home. This is a book that will tear you apart, make you cry, but it is extremely worth it. A truly stellar debut. Order a copy from Amazon here (I’m sorry for linking to them, but all my indies are out of stock!).