Monday, June 1, 2020

Mini Review: The Magician's Nephew
by CS Lewis

Title: The Magician's Nephew
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia #1
Author: CS Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Format: Paperback, 202 pages
Pub. Date: 1983
Source: Little Free Library

Book Description:

When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory's peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew's magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.



Confession time: I've never read the Chronicles of Narnia.

I'm a huge fan of the films, and I know they're beloved classics, but I never read them as a kid. I happened to find the first two at my local little free library, and decided to give them a go. Better late than never, right? I didn't realize that this book, while meant as a #1 to the series, was published 6th, and apparently people skip it.

I sort of understand why. I found this book, honestly, kind of boring. It's almost entirely world building and setting up for the rest of the chronicles. If I had read the other books in the series and come back to it, I feel like I would have appreciated it more. But as a first book, it's like a 200 preface.

Not that it's bad. It's enjoyable enough. I appreciated the origins of not just Narnia and the witch, but things that are so signature to the stories like the lamp post.

I also really liked the illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book. I didn't realize the books had drawings, and it was a pleasant surprise.

I'm glad I read this book, and I look forward to continuing my adventures in Narnia, but I probably won't be reading this again.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [119]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click*
the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

In my Mailbox

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Review: Dark Secret by Danielle Rose

Title: Dark Secret
Series: Darkhaven Saga #1
Author: Danielle Rose
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: February 18th 2020
Source: Netgalley

Book Description:

There's no wrath like that of a witch scorned.

Seventeen-year-old spirit witch Ava López is the self-appointed guardian of the witches and humans of Darkhaven, an idyllic village nestled between the forest and the sea. Her watch: vicious and bloodthirsty vampires.

Ava is a novice in the eyes of her coven. If she expects to protect them and the secrecy of their powers, she must gain better control of her own. When a full moon ritual goes awry, control may be lost forever, and Ava is exiled from her coven. Forced to seek refuge among the beings she had always sworn herself to hunt, she vows revenge on those who have upended her life.

But the more time Ava spends away from her coven, the more she discovers a startling truth: the witches haven’t been honest with her. Ava’s quest to strip the truth from everything she’s ever known begins with the toughest realization of all—coming to terms with who she has become.



I really wanted to like this book. It's got witches. It's got vampires. It's got secrets and mystery. But ultimately, I found it pretty forgettable.

The twists are pretty predictable and not really too unique. I thought the characters were pretty flat and generic- which pains me to say because the witchcraft elements seemed pretty cool conceptually. I just didn't up caring too much because I wasn't relating to characters. I do appreciate that Ava and her mother speak in and out of Spanish, it's nice to see cultural touches.

Because this book is very short- clocking in at about just under 200 pages- I felt that time was an issue. The pacing felt slow in some places and rushed in others. There didn't seem to be enough time to really flush details out the way that I would have liked. Maybe that's rectified in later installments, but I wasn't drawn in enough to book one to continue onward.

In the end, I get why there's so many positive reviews. It's a good idea for a book. It's not poorly written. A lot of people seem to like that it's in shorter format. But for me it was just pretty mediocre, and not anything that I got excited about.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [118]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.


Be the Girl by K.A. Tucker

In my Mailbox

Calypso by Ebony Olson

Stay safe, y'all. Stay home.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Title: Enchantée
Series: Enchantée #1
Author: Gita Trelease
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: February 5th 2019
Source: Goodreads First Reads/Flatiron Books

Book Description:


When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic--la magie ordinaire--Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won't hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family's savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With the dark magic she learned from her mother, Camille transforms herself into 'the Baroness de la Fontaine' and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life.

As the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare's affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose--love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie--before Paris burns.

Bestselling author of Caraval Stephanie Garber calls Enchantée "a lit firework crackling with treacherous magic, decadent romance, and disguises that take on lives of their own--deliciously addictive!" Gita Trelease's lush, imaginative debut fantasy is perfect for anyone looking for immersive magic in the world of Sofia Copola's Marie Antoinette.



Three and a half stars, rounded up.

What a good story. At the very base of it all, Gita Trelease is simply a talented story weaver.

This story had a lot going on. There's something in this book for everyone- French history, magic, revolution, fairy tale elements, romance, steampunk elements, betrayal, POC, LGBT, gambling, family, fashion, royalty. There's a lot to take in. Sometimes it seems like a bit too much at times, but it's nevertheless entertaining.

Something that Trelease does very well is "show" instead of "tell". She uses all five senses to conjure up such vivid imagery, especially when the lead character is in Versailles. What colors the candles glowed, how the pastries smelled, what sort of music played in the background. It's very easy to get swept up in the fantastical, yet somehow real, world of beaded dresses, powdered wigs, and Rococo symphonies. It would easily make a fantastic movie with the detailed imagery at play here.

The characters are pretty well developed, and I liked the lead, Camille, very much. She is pretty bad ass and makes sacrifices- even ones that arguably are "bad guy" decisions- for the ones she loves, and she owns it. She cares very passionately but isn't perfect and makes mistakes and learns from them. She encourages her sister and tries her best to protect her family, even the unlikable ones. The characters that you don't like, you don't like for a good reason, and the ones you love you cheer for. The love is very slow burning, but I adored Lazare, and I appreciated that he was of half-French, half-Indian descent. He struggled with his identity and it was an interesting plot to follow. He's not quite as he seems, both regal and an adventurer, honor-bound and humble. I was drawn to him as Camille was. I also appreciated the LGBT representation, albeit slight.

I think that the world building was fantastic, but a little bit misprioritized. The author does a magnificent job of building the world of Paris and Versailles, of revolution and royalty. However.... those things are real. I know what Paris was like, I've studied history, and I've read other books set here. What I wish had more backstory and detail was "la magie" or, the magic that some of the characters know. That's not common or assumed knowledge, and I wish a little more time was spent flushing out the magic components and history.

I think the pacing was a little off in spots too. Don't get me wrong- this book was incredibly entertaining, and overall I found it enjoyable. But clocking in at just under 500 pages, this isn't a quick read. Parts felt extremely slow, while others seemed rush. The "bad guy" plot didn't really gain steam until 3/4 of the way though, and it was a bit "foiled again, Batman!" when it arrived.

Another thing that sort of bugged me was that the French words aren't italicized or indicated at all. I speak French, so for me it didn't matter too much. But I can see that being an issue if I did not. Granted, there is a glossary of French words in the back, and my copy is an unfinished ARC, so perhaps this is not an issue in the finished copy.

All in all, this book is intriguing. If you're drawn into the likes of stories like Les Mis or Beauty and the Beast, then this book is more up your alleys. The historical components seem well researched and well blended with elements of magic, although I wish there was a little more magic throughout. The characters are the type you'll feel connected to, and with Trelease's skill at painting a textual picture you'll find yourself swept away to Marie Antoinette's court alongside magicians, gamblers, and aristocrats. While I might have had some issues with this book, I would definitely be interested in reading the sequel when it comes out in the future.

Thank you to Goodreads First Reads/Flatiron Books who gave me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [117]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Gothic Lolita by Dakota Lane

Little Free Library

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Other Book Stuff

I went to C2E2 in Chicago the other weekend, and got some books signed. I'm pretty excited about it!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Review: Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 edited by by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Title: Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1
Editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel
Format: Paperback, 248 pages
Pub. Date: March 10th 2020
Source: Rachel Kramer Bussel

Book Description:

Super sexy, sensual, and surprising bondage stories from Tiffany Reisz, Somer Marsden, Valerie Alexander, and more collected in this exciting volume by erotica maven Rachel Kramer Bussel!

A cameraman puts a TV anchor on display in a whole new way… Two NASA officials wage an interstellar battle between protocol and desire, and one is taken captive . . . A gender-bending bounty hunter keeps his bounty hostage for more than just the monetary reward . . . Two warring neighbors discover that bondage can be a powerful negotiating tool . . . “Merlin” and the “Lady of the Lake” invoke the magic of the woods to fuel their fiery passions . . .

Best Bondage Erotica of the Year is back with erotica maven and award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel compiling the most scintillating bondage stories into this one amazing collection. With a wide variety of different pairings, genders, and genres, these stories are all united in their deep desire for the mind-bending thrills of this o-so-delectable act. Whether you are exploring your kinky side, are looking for inspiration in the bedroom, or are simply interested in a sexy read, this collection is poised to please and titillate readers of any experience level who are keen to explore the depths of their own passions and penchants for the perverse.

Table of Contents

Chained—Ria Restrepo

Impropriety—Winter Blair

Over Under—Kendel Davi

Protocol—Angora Shade

Beach Blanket Ballet—Richard Bacula

Kneel—Kate Allure

Pretty Tied Up—Zak Jane Keir

The Deepest Part of the Forest—Deborah Castellano

Connection—Lazuli Jones

BYOB—Elizabeth Coldwell

Contrary—Kim Kuzuri

Freefall—Valerie Alexander

Delicate Matters—Leandra Vane

Boundless—Sammy Rei Schwarz

Stronghold—Leif Often

Necessary Roughness—Rachel Kramer Bussel

Safe Sex—Violet R. Jones

Hold On Harder—Dena Hankins

The Student Seat—Sommer Marsden

The Beguiling of Merlin—Tiffany Reisz



Every time that Rachel Kramer Bussel and Cleis Press release a new anthology, I get excited. It seems like the newest one is always newer, sexier, and more batshit than the last. And I mean that in the best way possible. There's newer scenarios, a wide variety of short stories, a whole manner of arrangements of kink and couplings and throuplings and beyond.

Between the pages of this anthology include stories that feature gender-bending, non-binary characters, couples (straight, gay, lesbian, the works), throuples, groups, young characters, old characters, disabled characters, POC characters, realistic stories, sci-fi stories, fantasy stories, historical stories, Dommes, Doms, role play, chains, ropes, public play, and way too much to keep listing like this. As the title of the anthology implies, the one strand that weaves all of these radically different stories together is the theme of bondage.

Because it's an anthology, I certainly liked some stories more than others. Though I always review only my top three favorite stories, I always take notes on each story and give each one a rating to help me determine the final amount of stars. I can honestly say that out of all the Cleis Press anthologies I've reviewed over the years, this book has the fewest low-rated stars out of all of them. No 1-star, and only one 2-star. The picks for this ones are pretty great to get your smut on. (In fact, 6 of them get perfect 5 stars from me!)

The ones I didn't care for as much are for various reasons- kinks that I'm not into, language that isn't my thing (I think we all have our preferred sexy words and ones that are y i k e s), one story was a bit disjointed and flowery. But, what didn't float my boat might hyper-float yours.

Because these are 20 stories by 20 authors, this book is easy to read either in one go, or in little bites of a story or two here and there.

As always, I'll highlight my top three favorite stories.

The first story that I'll highlight is actually the last one in the book, ensuring that the collection goes out with one helluva bang. It's called "The Beguiling of Merlin: An Erotic Fantasia" by Tiffany Reisz. It's a story I didn't know I wanted. It involves a hetero couple, an art book, history, roleplay, and obviously, bondage. It's a lovely blend of magic and realism, somehow reading as both a wonderful sort of fairy tale and an extremely steamy erotica. It's both pretty and dirty and I'm here for it.

The second book I'll recommend is called "The Deepest Part of the Forest" by Deborah Castellano. You'll probably notice a theme to the sort of stories that I enjoy reading. This story involves Halloween, a primal energy, a big bad wolf, a Red, a forest and, yes, more bondage. I thought this story had a fun, playful yet primal vibe to it. I love Halloween, I love a big bad wolf, and this was just up my alley.

The third one is one that I loved but also puzzles me, because Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthologies have made me acutely aware of the fact that "lesbian historical erotica" is a thing I'm into. Not weirdly specific at all! The last story is called "Impropriety" by Winter Blair. It involves a female/female pairing, a case of malaise, a historical setting, a tinkerer's workshop, bondage (shocking I know!) and an unusual device that may just give her everything she's missing and more. It's sexy, it's playful, it held my attention, and it left me wanting a longer story. I'd read a whole book of Jessamine and Ada. More of this, please!

All in all this book has a scratch to soothe any kinky itch. There's light stories, dark stories, fun stories, a rainbow of characters and a treasure trove of kinks. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I'm happy to add it to my shelf.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!