Review of Golden Braids and Dragon Blades by Melanie Karsak

Golden Braids and Dragon Blades: Steampunk Rapunzel (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 4) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Being the heir to Camelot is a tangled mess.

Rapunzel has spent her entire life living in Merlin’s cave on the coast of Cornwall. Under the protection of her faerie guardian, Gothel, she’s stayed safe. Safe and bored. Dreaming of a life that looks more like a Jane Austen novel, Rapunzel fears she’ll never have the chance to explore Victorian England’s modern delights. Or meet a man. Or be kissed. Or anything else remotely resembling normal.

When Red Cape Society Agent Ewan Goodwin’s monster-stalking device leads him to Rapunzel—and her unusual pets—the pair’s destinies entwine. Together, they must solve a mystery tied to the very roots of King Arthur’s Britannia.

Review:
I absolutely adored this novel! I had everything I could have asked or hoped for- faeries, dragons, magic, romance, steampunk, fairy tales, and frequent mention of Pride and Prejudice- my personal favourite classic! The protagonists are spunky but intelligent, and it was easy to fall into this novel, like all of Karsak’s books. I loved getting to know our male protagonist better, and seeing Rapunzel grow into a capable young woman.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis:
Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

Review:
This book had everything; treachery, slow burn romance, betrayal. There was a lot of psychological problems worked through, and I quite enjoyed it. The ending was a bit lackluster, but then, that is likely because this book just didn’t have as much pizzazz as the first.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis:
A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling young adult tale.

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map―the key to a legendary treasure trove―seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Review:
This book was quite easy to fall into, pleasant, and I really enjoyed it. Given the title of the second book in the series, a major plot point is already spoiled to anyone that knows there is a sequel, however, that didn’t change how enjoyable the book is. I loved how dastardly some of the pirates were shown as, as well as the redeeming qualities of others. Riden I absolutely love, and I love that one never truly knows who has the upper hand. It was quite interesting seeing Alosa struggle with her duality, something most people can relate to at least sometimes in their life. I quite loved this book, and look forward to seeing what happens in the sequel!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Synopsis:
Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious, Rook spirits her away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously wrong in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review:
This book was truly magical. The writing was delightful, with great descriptions but didn’t at all suffer from being overly detailed, and more importantly, such an important mortal dilemma: What is it that makes humans love the fae, and fae want the love of humans? While the plot was interesting, very driven, the overarching theme of what makes life worth living was so expertly experienced, shown, and explained that I must greatly commend Rogerson for addressing a topic that most find hard to consider at all. As seems to be the case with most things, it appears that both fae and humans want what the other has– a case of the grass always being greener on the other side. The battle throughout back and forth was delightful, insightful, and positively suburb. I greatly recommend this to any and all that love YA/Faerie/Romance.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Beauty and the Beast: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak

Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.

When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkerers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.

But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale set in gaslamp London.

Review:
Of all the steampunk style stories I have read this is one of my absolute favourites. It has everything amazing and right going for it: we have a spunky, intelligent heroine, we have the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, we have faeries, and we have incredibly well designed tech that doesn’t quite make sense, for good reason. I loved so much about this, the redemption of the characters and how they grew with time, even those that we really didn’t like or expect to see again. Everyone and everything had a purpose, and the story was quite endearing. I often ended up into the late hours of the night wanting to read more, but too tired to do so. If you like steampunk, you like fairy tales, and you love Beauty and the Beast– this will become a clear favourite.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen by Melanie Karsak

Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 2) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
It takes more than passion and pixie dust to thaw a frozen heart.

With the 1814 London Frost Fair in full swing, actress Elyse McKenna’s performance in A Midwinter Night’s Dream thrills the crowd. But Elyse’s backstage has life is beginning to take on a distinctly Shakespearean flavor.

When she fell in love with Lord John Waldegrave, Elyse was prepared to keep their affair secret. But she wasn’t ready for her new love to rock her relationship with her dearest friend, Doctor Kai Murray. 

Everything Elyse thought she knew about her feelings for her old friend is flipped upside down when an enchanting ship captain turns her attention to Kai.

If Elyse hopes to escape the Thames with her heart intact, she must discover the truth about the captain, Kai, John, and her own feelings—before it’s too late.

Ice and Embers is a retelling of the classic Snow Queen fairy tale set in New York Times best-selling author Melanie Karsak’s steampunk universe. Journey to gaslamp London during the 19th century to see how Melanie puts a steampunk spin in this reimagined fairytale.

Review:
I put off reading this, in major part because Snow Queen isn’t one of the fairy tales I’m overly familiar with, but I was pleasantly surprised by how very well done this was. I quite enjoyed the behind the scenes looks at being in the theatre and being a doctor/doctor’s assistant, but it greatly annoyed me with how many times pirouetting across the stage was mentioned, since pirouettes do not travel but rotate in place. Other than the dancing descriptions being off, I thought the story was overall lovely.

I loved how Elyse was so innocent and naive, despite being in a position where she’d see these roles and situations on a regular basis. I truly loved how A Midsummer Night’s Dream (and Shakespeare in general) was entwined with the book. If you love steampunk, Shakespeare, fairytales, dance and romance, I’d recommend this book for sure.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Witch for Hire by Molly Fitz

Witch for Hire (Paranormal Temp Agency Book 1) by [Molly Fitz]

Synopsis:
My name is Tawny Bigford. I’m 35, single, and I love hot showers. Seriously, all I wanted was a hot shower to start my day off right, but when I went to confront my landlady about the broken plumbing, I wound up talking to her corpse instead.

Now everyone thinks I’m to blame for her murder—not the best way to make an impression on the new neighbors, let me tell you. But how can I prove I’m innocent when I know practically nothing about the woman I supposedly killed?

Especially not the fact that she was the official Beech Grove Town Witch. Her former boss—a snarky black cat named Mr. Fluffikins—says I have to fill her vacated role until the real killer can be caught and brought to justice.

So, whether I like it or not, I’ve just been recruited to the Paranormal Temp Agency. Now I need to solve my landlady’s murder, figure out how to wield my newly granted powers, and maybe even find a way to fit in around here.

Yup. All in a day’s work for this novice witch.

Review:
This was a light, quick read and very well written. Easy to fall into, chapters were nice, concise and gripping. There wasn’t a lot of time wasted with flowery words or unimportant details. Everything flowed well and quickly, and the chapters really flew by. It seemed to take next to no time to read this book, even though it is 214 pages (though maybe that’s because I’ve been reading so many 400+ epic novels lately). There was constantly a reason for wanting to turn the page, and no time time.

Naturally I quite adored that Molly Fitz chose an author as the protagonist! How fun is that! That made it even more enjoyable for me. What made this book even more relatable is that Tawny admits to being a flawed individual with a broken relationship in the past, who is single, and 35. I suspect there are many like myself that wonder why there are no adventures or fun stories once you get to around the 30+ age and are female, except those of being a mother. It was so much fun to have a protagonist who is a bit eccentric but still living life.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Voyage by Camille Peters

Voyage (The Kingdom Chronicles Book 6) by [Camille Peters]

Synopsis:
Princess Seren has always expected her life to be one of duty and order, and her upcoming marriage alliance is no exception: she’ll sail to Bytamia to marry the crown prince as expected. But what she doesn’t expect is for the voyage to her new life to be delayed by the whims of an enchanted map and an adventure to a mystical island rumored to contain a legendary treasure.

She especially doesn’t expect—nor does she appreciate—the unwanted attentions of the charming yet infuriating captain who seems determined to befriend her and who also possesses the uncanny ability to see beyond the mask she’s always shown the world. Seren feels her careful control rapidly slipping away as the captain breaks down her defenses one by one, forcing her to face her fears and vulnerabilities and causing her to experience feelings she’s never felt before.

But this voyage will soon involve more than ships, treasure, and a far-too-endearing and persistent captain; it will also lead Seren on a journey that will allow her to heal, discovering both her own true worth and the greatest treasure of all: love. But is love even possible with the duty Seren must perform, a duty that just may be her last chance to redeem herself?

Inspired by “King Thrushbeard”

Review:
I was quite worried that King Thrushbear would be about Lavena, and no one really wants to read about her!

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this story, because Seren was known for being nasty. Once you get to know her deeper and understand why she’s so flawed, it becomes easier to resonate with her. Unlike the other flawed females, I felt like Seren had a much deeper reason for feeling as she did, given how her family had treated her. I loved Ronan from the start, and I absolutely loved that he didn’t intentionally try to deceive Seren. I quite loved how everything developed between them and the epic journey they went on. There was such growth of both protagonists during the novel and I quite loved it, especially how true to the real world the journey felt/read.

Quite enjoyed it, and looking forward to reading more in this series as they come out!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯



Review of Enchantment by Camille Peters

Enchantment (The Kingdom Chronicles Book 5) by [Camille Peters]

Synopsis:
When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.

Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.

Inspired by Beauty and the Beast

Review:
So as we all know, I’m a sucker for enchanted roses. I’d been wondering and wondering where Briar would fall in this series, torn between the Beast and some odd hybrid of Sleeping Beauty, but my first inclination was correct. I was so glad to see that back home Briar has a slightly different demeanor and personality, as he was rather drained and unpleasant in Reflection. Maren, however, I wasn’t sure I would like. From the beginning, her self esteem issues were a bit annoying, though understandable given her father never showed her love. It was frustrating that despite constantly saying that she was used to it her actions proved that she cared far too much about other’s opinions on her “beauty” or lack thereof. Despite this, I quite enjoyed her quips and how prepared she always was to get into both mischief and not let others tell her falsehoods. I could resonate quite soundly with doing all sorts of things like Maren, however, my interests were always nourished and encouraged by family, and when others would make me doubt myself, it generally made me even more determined to become better at whatever it was.

I love the personification of the garden, and quite enjoy how Maren and Briar dance around each other. While originally hard to really understand Briar, Maren’s good nature prevails and his character is revealed in how he deals with tragedy as well as his own issues with self doubt. I also loved the background characters of Maren’s childhood, and how completely dastardly the men in her life reveal themselves to be.

I was so glad to see Prince Drake and Prince Rhea again but we were left with a lot of baggage regarding them that was never resolved. I do hope to see them and a resolution in a future book, though I’m not sure we’d see them in the next book about Seren (Aiden’s sister from the first book in the series, Pathways). Seren was almost as nasty as Lavena in this book, so while I originally thought the next book would be about Princess Lavena (featured in Identity) it is unsurprising to know that the King Thrushbeard story will fall to Seren.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

Synopsis:
Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . .

Review:
I’m so torn in what to say here. I love that we get an adventure, and there is so much up and down, but oh my goodness the ending is so openly ambiguous I can hardly stand it!

I love how these books take something from the past and meld it into the future, of how Violet feels as if she’s bound to repeat Freddie’s path in the past, but Violet is a very different person than the Freddie that we learn more about. I love all the characters, and in the end I was quite pleased with Violet’s choice, but I wish there was a more definitive (happy) ending, because there is so much left that could go wrong.

This book series is a whirlwind and I am not quite sure how to articulate all of my thoughts about it. I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it. There are so many fantastic thriller/horror elements, and I definitely felt my fair share of H. P. Lovecraft vibes from this one, as well as a little bit of the uncertainty and ambiguity of V. C. Andrews.

Thank you, TikTok(BookTok). I absolutely loved these books.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯