Tag Archives: bookreview

Review: Murder on Millionaire’s Row

Murder on Millionaire’s Row by Erin Lindsey

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn, Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

Put it this way; I’ve got the second book on pre-order…

It’s a fun, period-piece romp with a very readable central character, and some fun situations and scenarios! The magic slides in fairly slowly, so it doesn’t feel like a slap in the face; we learn along with Rose, and definitely appreciate her worries and problems with it. The antagonists are nicely done, as is the plot, which is complex enough to stay interesting but simple enough that I didn’t have to focus too hard!

The only character that I felt was a little vague was actually Mr Wiltshire; but then I’m not entirely sure what I did expect, as Rose goes from having a crush on him to being a partner in crime, as it were. I liked the worldbuilding, even though I don’t really know New York at all – there was a helpful little map at the start, and everywhere was nicely sketched out. I liked the historical details as well, which were woven nicely into the plot.

Overall: Miss Marple if she was twenty-something, in New York and had added magic – a light, easy and fun read!


Review: The Court of Broken Knives

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

This has taken me so long!! Partly because I got the hardback and it meant I couldn’t really carry it anywhere, partly because I had a ridiculous book-stack, and partly because…well, it’s grimdark, which is not my favourite genre.

The story itself is interesting and tangled, but easy to read; it switches between the soldiers in the desert (who include Marith) and various players in Sorlost… and then when the soldiers arrive, things get political. And bloody.

And there’s dragons.

And more blood.

Basically, everything goes wrong for everyone. (It is grimdark.)

The thing I liked about The Court of Broken Knives was the characters; addiction and innocence are shown in the same sentence. Lust and greed are tangled with hope. The situations are horrible (and mostly of the characters’ own making) but how they deal with them shows off the worst and the best of human nature.

The plot is nicely dramatic; blood, drama, politics… Marith realises he can’t hide who he is, and I love Thalia’s arc from Temple Priestess to…well, no spoilers, go read. The politics of Sorlost are brilliant too, with a coup and the realisation that maybe the result of that coup hasn’t actually made anything better at all.

A very good read; engaging and interesting, with a tangled plot and interesting characters, and worth reading if you’re into the genre.

Review: This Is How You Lose The Time War

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

One of the problems of working for a publisher is that I get to read books about, oooh, a year – or more! – before everyone else. This is one of the ones I read, and I couldn’t talk about it until it was officially a bit more Announced… and now it is!

The sort-of-downside is that we’re not publishing it for various reasons, but! That means that I can officially squeak about it being AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OHMYGOODNESS BUY THIS BOOK without looking at all partisan.

So I am going to tell you that it is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OHMYGOODNESS BUY THIS BOOK.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

I adore the lyricism of the language and the poetry of the letters; I adore the twist in the tale, and the steps they take to get there; I adore all the scenarios of this time war, the knots and whorls and the locations of assignments, and the tiny, weird things that make such a difference downstream; I adore the rapid-fire action and the slow build of the romance; and it’s just…

Put it this way, I’m buying myself a copy and buying another one for Otter because they will love the language, and then handing my copy round my entire family and probably half my friends and telling them all to GO BUY ONE.

It’s beautiful, haunting, clever, enthralling and stunning; I love it, and it’s a wonderful story. Get this.

Review: The Girl Who Drank The Moon

The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is in fact a good witch who shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge – with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

Sweet, complex and gentle, with some savage undertones!

I admit to feeling a bit frustrated by this book. It’s billed as a children’s story, and it is; the harder themes (loss of a parent/child, loyalty, coming into your self & powers, standing up to authority and wrong) are all needed and all done very well. However, I found myself wishing the book was written in a more adult style; wishing that we could have more depth on many of the characters and their situation, and reading the same book but in a way that didn’t make me feel I needed a ten-year-old sitting next to me to read to. Which, I admit, sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book – I did! – and that the writing style wasn’t a good read – and it was! – but…


A good book. An enjoyable book. One that brings up needed themes and has some suitably horrible villains and some wonderful characters and some interesting situations, scenarios and morals. It’s delightful and fun and interesting. But it’s a book that actually, I felt I wasn’t the right person – or the right age – to be reading.

Review: Thornbound

Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis (Book 2 of the Harwood Spellbook)

Thornbound cover

The first volume is Snowspelled, which I reviewed here.

Cassandra Harwood scandalized her nation when she became the first woman magician in Angland. Now, she’s ready to teach a whole new generation of bright young women at her radical new school, the Thornfell College of Magic…Until a sinister fey altar is discovered in the school library, the ruling Boudiccate sends a delegation to shut down Thornfell, and Cassandra’s own husband is torn away from her.

As malevolent vines slither in from the forest and ruthless politicians scheme against her, Cassandra must fight the greatest battle of her life to save her love, her school, and the future of the young women of Angland.

Jane Austen meets magic, with a wonderful dose of powerful characters! In the same vein as The Invisible Library, Lady Isabella Trent and the amazing The Midnight Queen from Sylvia Izzo Hunter…and just as fabulous.

The first book was light-hearted, magical, character-full, interesting and enjoyable, and this one continues! Cassandra has got her man; but he’s being sent running all over the country by his job; and Cassandra’s set up her school of magic, with all the challenges that brings. And now the students are arriving, along with the  teachers, and the inspectors, and a whole boatload of trouble…

I think this could be a standalone, but it’s probably worth reading Snowspelled first to pick up the characters; the backstory to Cassandra, Wrexham and Amy is worth knowing (they’re so cute!) and definitely lends more to the story. However, a new school, with Cassandra doing her best to corral students and staff while trying to figure out who’s calling the Fey into events, warn teachers from wandering off into the bluebell woods, and dealing with two inspectors who would be very pleased to see the school shut down… it all makes a wonderfully enthralling story, and is as fun as the first!

There’s a short story (published in The Underwater Ballroom Society) and also apparently another novella coming (with more Miss Banks and Miss Fennell, yes!) and I’m thoroughly looking forward to any future stories in the series.