Review: Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

I adore fairy tale retellings and Kiss of the Spindle fit the bill. This had everything that made me happy. Witches, shifters, curses and swoony men. Can’t go wrong with that.

Isla Cooper has been put under a spell and she must do everything in her power to find the witch that cast it, even if it means blackmailing her way onto an airship. She basically sleeps like the dead every night. She’s running out of time. Soon the curse will be permanent. Her calling as a shifter empath has put her in the sights of a few who would like her to fail in her endeavor. So she must call upon her fellow airship occupants to help her, even though she’s used to doing things alone.

Captain Daniel Pickett was mot amused into being blackmailed. He’s a mission and he doesn’t have time to be messed around with. He has no idea what’s in store for him. Just when he’s content with his life, Isla brings a spark into it and draws him into her. He falls hard. But when he find out what’s happening to her each night, he does everything in his power to help her.

I love the slow burn of this romance. It kept me turning the pages. I was so excited to see where this was headed. I’m glad we got to see Daniel’s story. We met him in the previous story, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. But this is a standalone, so don’t worry about missing anything.

I’m still fairly new to the world of steampunk. I’ve read less than a handful of them. But I gotta admit, they intrigue me. They’re like historical, and yet not. Kiss was no exception. I just have to reset my mind and jump into a world of gadgets and gizmos. I hope we get more in this series.

~Melpomene
Buy Kiss of the Spindle https://amzn.to/2tt4mUW

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Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf


Boy, I wish I knew this was gonna be a trilogy before I started. Towards the end I was getting nervous and then BAM. So now I sit here waiting……

I went in blind so I really didn’t have any idea what it was about. To be honest, in the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish. Her inner voice kept reminding us about the same thing over and over and over again. It was getting rather annoying. But I stuck with it and ended up hooked.

Zera was torn between doing what she needed to do and what she wanted to do. She’s on a mission that, if it was just about her, her decisions would’ve been easier to make. But since it’s not only about her, she has to come to terms with what she really is and why she’s really here.

Personally I liked the prince’s bodyguard more than anyone. He was quick witted and duty bound to the prince. He was always there to say what others were thinking, even if he should keep it to himself. Without him, I probably would’ve quit the book early on.

I liked the premise of the story. I really did, even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen. The ending, while exciting, wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew it. I know this all sounds negative, but I think teens will like it. It was a sweet romance with very exciting undertones. I look forward the next one.

~Melpomene

Buy Bring me Their Hearts https://amzn.to/2KrBfgl

Quick review: Legion by Julie Kagawa


I’m stressed. Totally stressed. This is the beginning of the end. Very action packed and tense. So many battles, both physically and emotionally. The ending I never saw coming. Now I am both nervous and excited to read the final book.

However, I will say that I now know how my daughter felt when reading the Iron Fey books. My heart is with the other guy. This is a bittersweet read now. But I’m dying to know what happens, so I’m pushing through. I think this book had more of the romance aspect in it, compared to the others.

What I like about this series is that we get many POVs. Not only from Ember and her soldier and rogue, but also her brother. I liked knowing what was happening from the inside of Talon and what their plans are. Although I totally didn’t agree with them, and they added to my stress, it was nice to know what Dante was thinking.

Who knew a YA book would have me feeling this way? I am almost afraid to continue on, but I’m pulling up my big girl panties and diving in.

~Melpomene

Talon https://amzn.to/2IPw8BA
Rogue https://amzn.to/2xbB0zA
Soldier https://amzn.to/2kq4VuD
Legion https://amzn.to/2xcGXML

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber


Seriously‽‽ Now what am I supposed to do‽‽ This is not how I expected this story to go at all. If you read Caraval, you know how it ended. It wasn’t cut and dry. There was still more fun to be had.

Legendary was an experience. Definitely one of a kind. Magical and mysterious with more jaw dropping scenes than I ever expected. The game has changed. This time, everything is real…or is it…

Romance played a bigger role in Legendary than in Caraval. But while it was still familial, there was way more romantic love throughout it. In fact that’s probably why I enjoyed this one more. Lots of swoony scenes that had me all twitterpated.

Dante had my heart fluttering. I know he was the typical bad boy before, and he had his moments here, but he definitely showed his true colors in this one. Pleasantly surprised by him. And then just plain, downright surprised at him.

Jacks left me with a lot of unanswered questions. There’s so much more to him that we didn’t get to see. But since he’s a master at trickery, I fell under his spell.

Many times I forgot that Tella was only 16 years old. Sometimes she can act like the flighty school girl but most of the time she made difficult decisions that would give us mature adults pause. I really liked her. I think more than her sister even. My heart felt what she felt. It raced when her was racing. It hurt when hers hurt. Part of me hopes we eventually get more from her. Even a little short story. I feel like her story isn’t done yet. She has a lot of life to live.

The conclusion was way more open ended than I was expecting. In fact, it left me reeling. I can honestly say that I’m not sure how I feel. I think I wanted a definitive ending. I wanted a choice to be made…and yet there was. Gah!! I want more!! My head is still spinning.

And I’m editing this now because the author just announced that we WILL be getting a third book! Holy moly. I am so excited now. I need more.

~Melpomene

Grab both books:
Caraval https://amzn.to/2GkC7kG
Legendary https://amzn.to/2pUnTMA

Quick Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa


A YA love triangle with dragons. That’s all that needs to be said.

I kid…

Sorta…

Ember and joined Cobalt and is still struggling with the exit of Garret. She is torn between two boys, a dragon or a soldier. Both seem to be pulling her in their directions. But she’s not sure what to do.

Even though Garret left, he can’t seem to forget Ember. When he discovers something extremely disturbing about The Order, he must go back to the states and see if he can help make things right.

Another exciting installment in the Talon series that left me breathless. I’m about to dive into the next book. I’m so glad I waited till they were all complete. This really is a fun YA series. It’s been added to my list of recs.

On a side note, my non reader son read these books and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is currently rushing me to finish so he can talk about them. That’s saying something. It’s nice to find books like this.

~Melpomene

Grab
Talon https://amzn.to/2GiEr77
Rogue https://amzn.to/2KqyiIx
Soldier https://amzn.to/2Kt7K9B

Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Quick review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Not enough stars!! When I first saw this cover, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t even care what it was about. I just knew that I needed it. And let me tell you, I am so glad I did. I just finished this and now I’m sitting here with a big dorky smile on my face. Such a good book. Exciting and adventurous. Romantic and sweet. It’s just like Amazon said, Wonder Woman meets Vikings. I am dying to listen to the audible. I bet it’s gonna be just as amazing.

Eelyn is a warrior. Raised to believe the Riki are enemies. But when she’s captured and enslaved by them, she comes to the realization that they aren’t much different than her own clan. In fact, she learns that if they’re being honest, they have a common goal, and sets out to show them that. There are a few surprises for her and us, but it makes the story that much more exciting.

I loved the romance weaved throughout this. It’s very subtle. I wondered if there was even going to be a romance, and amazingly I was okay if there wasn’t. I was that hooked. But when it showed up, I was super happy. All stories need a little love.

There’s so much I wanna say, but I’ll let you read it and enjoy it for yourself. But the best part is that it’s a standalone! This wonderful story is all wrapped up in one spectacular package. It’s also going on my YA list. The teens in my life will love this. I can’t wait till my daughter reads this book. She’s gonna love it. LOVE IT. Ax and knife throwing is a hobby of hers.

This is Adrienne Young’s debut and I’m telling you, I found a new author to obsess over. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Melpomene

Buy Sky in the Deep https://amzn.to/2Hm7rvZ