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ARC DNF Review: The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This one looked really promising, but I didn’t enjoy it. By 25% I can usually tell if I book is going to become more enjoyable or continue as a slog, and this one was definitely the latter.

My first issue was the the characters. Miss Constance Haltwhistle is… annoying. Brash, rude, entirely self-centered and expecting the world to revolve around her. She’s also puzzlingly supposed to be both completely sheltered and innocent AND a successful weapons dealer. Those don’t really go together. J.F. Trusdale just sort of sits back and let her steamroll over him. He’s also puzzlingly not a spy, but impersonating his dead brother (who was a spy) at the request of his brother’s agency… which, would make him a spy, right?

I wasn’t a fan of the writing style – it was obviously trying very hard to be funny but for me, it just fell flat. Some of the steampunk details (like the carriage that serves breakfast) were cool — but also a bit confusing. Why have horses at all if the thing already uses steam power for the breakfast cooking and transforming? The steampunk details also didn’t really seem to mesh well with the setting. And the worldbuilding in general was spotty.

I will say that a lot of people will probably really enjoy the style of humor employed here, even though I’m not one of them.

*Thanks to NetGalley and CamCat Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: House of El by Claudia Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I only meant to download this today but I got completely sucked in and ended up devouring all of it in one sitting. I’m not super familiar with Superman lore beyond the basics, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the story.

The characters are interesting and compelling and the stakes are high from the start – and really feel like it. I really enjoyed reading about Zahn and Sera and their friends, as well as their blossoming friendship and potential for more. Of course, it ended far sooner than I would have liked, but it was a great length to whet the appetite for the story while still leaving potential for more.

I’ve really enjoyed Claudia Gray’s work in the past, and this was no exception.

The art was really great, with easily distinguishable characters, tension and drama, great colors, and a throwback comic-book style. It definitely enhanced the reading experience.

I will definitely be picking up the next books in the series as soon as they’re available.

*Thanks to NetGalley and DC Entertainment for providing me an e-arc to review.

**Some teaser images below:

ARC Review: Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Rating: 5 out of 5.

These are my favorite sort of fairy tales. They have teeth; they bite and haunt and chill you. They are eerie and magical and strange and creepy and unsettling — and they don’t have happy endings. I haven’t actually read the Hazelwood yet, but now I know I’m going to, because I love Melissa Albert’s writing style. It flows beautifully and is full of unusual phrases that make you slow down and savor the words.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron books for providing an e-arc to review.

ARC Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I wasn’t completely convinced by Spellbreaker and deducted a star because the info-dumpy worldbuilding at the beginning made it hard to become fully invested in the story. But this book got off to a running start and didn’t stop until the end.

I love the characters and their troubles and motivations. I love the romance (despite a few cringe-y lines). I especially love the magic – Spellbreaking especially is fascinating, as is Master Spellmakers turning into Opuses in death – and the fast-paced plot. This duology is closer to the Paper Magician trilogy than any of Holmberg’s other books, and so I liked it a lot more. Not quite as much as Paper Magician, but close. I would definitely read more books about Elsie and Bacchus and Ogden and Emmeline and Reggie.

I would definitely recommend this duology to anyone who enjoyed the Paper Magician series.

*Thanks to NetGalley and 47North for providing an e-arc for review.