Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major
A British version of Groundhog Day to fix a life before all is lost. Emma is trying to be everything to everyone and we know how that goes. From her super romantic husband, to her kids, to her boss and the needy authors she represents as well as a power hungry school committee - she is stretched thin.
Between phone and the voices in her head she is never really present for anything else until the night she see her husband die in front of her and is given a chance to redeem herself. She wakes the next day only to find that it is again the day before and keeps adjusting things to try to correct her mistakes. What would we change if we got a second chance? A sobering look at how getting everything you want and realizing that it is all too much. 3 1/2 stars
A beautifully and mesmerizing gothic story of the immortal lives of one woman. Collette now is an artist and head of a small art school for children in New York. She has become overly fond of one of her small charges, a sickly and very talented boy caught up in a complicated home life. This is not a good situation for Collette. The chapters travel back and forth between present day and her many other lives which always end in discovery, violence and flight. Her existence depends on a regular blood supply which unlike other vampire stories she does not lurk in the shadows ripping out the throats of innocents and instead hunts small animals and feeds on livestock and the occasional men not worth saving. Her big heart and maternal instincts draw her to care for the children she tries to help all the while knowing she is placing them in danger and that the God of Endings will end her someday. This plan worked until Leo wormed his way into her heart and added to her hunger not just for blood but to truly live fully for once. This is for readers of softer vampire stories of Ann Rice or THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova.
4 1/2 stars
Wayward by Emilia Hart
A quiet but deadly multi-generational story of three women who fight back against a world of violent men amidst fear of their special bond to nature. Altha - a natural healer like her mother she was sought after by women and feared by men branding her a target for witch finders. Violet - an innocent girl who would rather be in the woods with insects than under her father's domineering eye. She gets taken advantage of and is happily stowed away in a woods cottage. Kate - caught in an abusive relationship she flees to her Great Aunt Violet's cottage to wait out her pregnancy in peace.
All three sought comfort and courage from nature sensing the special gifts that have been handed down to Wayward women through time. This debut features mesmerizing language and descriptions of the natural world from damselflies to crows. 4 stars
On a family farm surrounded by corporate farms run by machines lives an artist, her daughter and son and three very spoiled sheep. Mom gets by because her teen daughter manages not only her mom's business but also takes charge of the household and care of her little brother. It is a life that she can handle until mom brings home a crane and declares him her husband and their new father. Powerless to change her mother's mind she sees the steady decline of her mom's attention for anything except the crane. On the farm the farmers want daughters because the moms fly away. A unique fairy tale that only Kelly Barnhill could tell with a feminist coming of age message - be strong, be independent and don't trust a crane to make you complete. 4 1/2 stars
Set sail on a new trilogy with a possibly reformed pirate and her loyal crew of diverse ethnicities and skill sets. Amina is done with sea adventures keeping her and her daughter safe on land until she is lured back to the sea to rescue a kidnapped girl. Getting back her ship and crew is easier than the voyage will be and now she is once again dealing with her unusual ex-spouse and a power hungry Frank who will give her more trouble than she bargained for. Shannon Chakraborty's skill at world building was apparent from her recent Daevabad stories but this one will set her prowess in stone forever. A touch of Sinbad the Sailor mixed with One Thousand and One Arabian Nights this is a female driven high-octane adventure with as much sarcastic wit as there are unusual creatures and a dose of heartfelt emotion. Can't wait for the next one!
This is a prequel to THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE but can happily be devoured as a standalone.
The Priory has supplied the realm with fierce female warriors for generations but they have been idle til now. A great disturbance has awakened and with it comes wyrms and terrible monsters that slaughter the helpless villages leaving nothing in their wake. It will be up to the Queendoms and warriors of the Priory to stop the violence and send the Dreadmount back into hiding. This is a fantastic world where women are at the forefront of Queendoms, where women are free to love and marry the women they love and men the same. A world where women bear children and hand them off to men to care for them so they can go into battle, this unique female-centric fantasy has all the violence , adventure and political upheaval of GAME OF THRONES but with a lot of tenderness. Samantha Shannon has continued the world building and deep characters of the first book masterfully. 4 stars
Nocturne by Alyssa Wees
This magical mix of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and Gaiman's THE SANDMAN takes us to 1930's Chicago where a gifted ballerina on her own finds love and support in a patron with much to hide. Grace's dream of becoming not only a dancer but prima ballerina becomes reality when a mysterious patron helps her achieve all her dreams. She becomes obsessed with discovering who he is and his reasons for always remaining in the shadows and soon finds out there is many more secrets to unfold. Like a moth to the flame she wants his world but not at the cost of losing her own. Lyrical prose that pulls us in from the minute the curtain rises immersing the reader in a misty magical world that hovers between life and death. 4 stars
The Last Tale Of The Flower Bride by Roshani ChokshiHappy book birthday to THE LAST TALE OF THE FLOWER BRIDE by Roshani Chokshi.
A dark fairy tale of obsession and the need to escape from what we cannot control. Indigo lived in a beautiful manor home surrounded by woods where she and her best friend and soul sister Azure would do what they could to become worthy and join the Fae in the Otherworld. While Indigo demanded absolute loyalty and could be cruel at times her welcome into Indigo's house and away from her own kept her safe and sane growing up. Fast forward years later and Indigo has found her prince and married him on the condition that he would never pry into her secrets (of which there were many). Fairy tale or not we all know how that will end. When they travel back to Indigo's childhood home it all begins to unravel and her bridegroom just can't help himself. Dark with a house that feels more alive than its inhabitants at times and plenty of doom and gloom, this elegantly told tale offers up its own bit of relationship advice. For Chokshi's many fans as well as those of Holly Black, Marisa Meyer and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Venco by Cheri Dimaline
Lucky is not feeling very lucky trying her best to take care of her feisty grandmother, pay the overdue rent and her dead end job. She thinks that going to an interview at Venco might just turn their fortunes around so she packs up Stella and they make the journey from Canada down to Salem. What she finds there is not just a strange job offer but a new community of empowered women and a crazy cross country search for magical spoons and the final witch to complete the coven. Stella is a force of nature fitting right in with this unusual group and eventually Lucky follows her heart and gut and signs on. With a deadly hunter on their trail and witch driven radar they are down to days to find the last bit to complete the circle. Fun, irreverent and a clear choice for readers of UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED, PLAIN BAD HEROINES and Alice Hoffman's beloved witches of Eastwick. 5 stars
A haunted house meets a haunted man and his two daughters when he answers a strange want ad for a job. Just live in the house and report on any paranormal events the owner of Spite House tells him.
At least it will get Eric and his girls out of living in their car and give him much needed income. Eric is doing his best to be a good dad. Spite House is the perfect example of a haunted house - it sits on a hill, it is too narrow making it look weird and it was built to irritate neighbors and upset townspeople. Think THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE but told in multiple point of views in flashbacks which can be confusing. 3 stars
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