Review: A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2) by Alix E. Harrow

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2)A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Mirror Mended is the second installment to Alix E. Harrow’s fairy tale-based novella series, Fractured Fables.

The first in the series, A Spindle Splintered, was such a delightful surprise for me when I picked it up last fall.

In that story we meet our protagonist, Zinnia Gray, who due to an industrial accident is left with a rare fatal condition. She’s told she won’t live to see her 22nd-birthday. In spite of this, or maybe because of this, Zinnia tries to live her life to the fullest.

Her best friend Charm, knowing this about her, decides on her 21st-birthday to throw Zinnia a Sleeping Beauty-themed party. It’s at that party, at the stroke of midnight, that Zinnia pierces her finger on a spinning wheel and first gets transported into another world.

It happens to be the world in which the real Briar Rose lives and the two women work together to try to halt their doomed fates.

In this installment, we find Zinnia still fixing fairly tales. She has traveled throughout the fairy tale multiverse always seeming to find herself in her comfort zone; Sleeping Beauty.

That’s why Zinnia is beyond shocked when she looks into the mirror one day and sees a face looking back at her. A beautiful, slightly evil face.

It seems Zinnia may be on to a whole new story, which just so happens to be one of my favorites, Snow White.

The Evil Queen has come seeking Zinnia’s help. She’s found out how her story ends and she is desperate for a better ending. Zinnia’s intrigued.

Not only is the Evil Queen beautiful, but as Zinnia gets to know her, she feels like maybe the Queen is a bit misunderstood. Zinnia wants to help, but will she be able too before the story ends for them both?

This installment was just as much fun as the first. I forgot how incredibly smart and witty the writing is. It hooked me in from the start.

I’m seriously obsessed with this series. I’m not sure exactly how long this series is slated to be, but I am hoping for many, many more. Zinnia Gray is life.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook format as well. The narrator really brings spirit to the story and breaths life into Zinnia. It’s completely immersive and fun.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I can’t wait for whatever comes next!!

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Misrule (Malice #2) by Heather Walter

Misrule (Malice Duology, #2)Misrule by Heather Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Misrule is the sequel to Heather Walter’s 2021-release, Malice; a darkly creative retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

I have been highly anticipating this second book as I really enjoyed Malice. I found it completely immersive, with wonderful world-building and a fantastic magic system.

As this is the second book in a duology, I may mention some details here that some might consider spoilers. I will try not to reveal too much, but if you’re concerned, look away now.

You have been warned…

This story is set 100-years after the culminating events of the first book.

Alyce has reached her potential and become ruler over the kingdom that once ridiculed her. The Dark Grace known to the Briar Kingdom is dead and now Alyce lives as Nimara, ruler of the Dark Court.

The Dark Court has become a welcome home to creatures who were vilified and hunted by the prior kingdom. Vila, goblins, imps and demons live together within the castle walls in chaotic harmony.

For her part, Aurora remains in an enchanted sleep, locked away in a tower room. Her existence more the stuff of legend than actually memory.

Could a random human boy named Derek, washed ashore and pledged to serve Nimara, be the key to breaking the enchantment holding Aurora in her endless sleep?

There’s so much more to this story than that, including a centuries long battle against the Fae, but I am going to leave it there. If you want to know more, which I think you do, you have to pick up this duology.

Heather Walter’s writing is so readable and digestible. At times Fantasy stories can require a lot of concentration; filled with hard to pronounce names and places, as well as complex histories and magic systems to try to figure out.

While this is a detailed and multi-layered story, it is written in such a way that makes it accessible and addicting. It stands out to me in that regard.

Overall, this was a fantastic conclusion to a highly-underrated YA Fantasy duology. I look forward to seeing what Walter releases next. Personally, I am hoping she stays in the lane of retellings. She nailed this.

Frankly, I’m sad it’s over. I’ll miss this beautiful world and all of the compelling characters.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had been highly anticipating this release and it didn’t disappoint for a moment!

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Review: One for All by Lillie Lainoff

One for AllOne for All by Lillie Lainoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

One for All is pitched as a gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, but don’t go into it expecting an actual retelling.

I would classify this as more of a continuation of the Musketeer legends, but with female protagonists.

Our intrepid hero is Tania de Batz, who hasn’t let her chronic illness smother her dreams. That’s her mother’s job.

Tania’s father is a former Musketeer who has regaled his daughter with stories of his adventures. Tania aspires to be like him, to be a fencer and to protect the crown from harm. Her loving father supports her, until the day he is mysteriously killed.

While Tania’s mother wants nothing more than to marry her daughter off, for her own good, of course, Tania’s father’s final wish was for her to attend L’Académie des Mariées.

A finishing school! Tania can’t believe her father would wish such a thing upon her. Isn’t that just the final stop before finding a suitable husband!?

Luckily for Tania, her father had her back after all. L’Académie isn’t a finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for female Musketeers. Musketeers who will front as socialites, but are actually seeking out intel to stop attacks on the crown.

They’re like crazy secret spy ladies who never back down from a fight. We love that!

For the first time at L’Académie, Tania feels accepted. She doesn’t feel like her newfound sisters-in-arms are judging her because of her illness. They trust in her and her abilities.

Then a boy comes along. Leave it to a boy to spoil things. Etienne is Tania’s first target and he gets under her skin in all the wrong ways.

This is a fun book. I enjoyed getting to know Tania and following her journey as she finally got the chance to achieve her dream of becoming a Musketeer.

I was drawn to her struggles from the very beginning. I felt for her, the way her mother treated her. It was sad and frustrating, but I sort of got where her mother was coming from, even though I didn’t agree with her.

I loved the relationship between Tania and her father though. It was heartbreaking that he was taken from her so soon. Her ambitions to follow in his footsteps seemed like an impossibility at the time for a woman, but he found the way to make it so.

I also really loved the found-family aspect of this story. Once Tania arrives at school and meets her new sisters, that was so fantastic.

The dynamics between all the girls was strong and believable. They made a great team!

While the plot of this didn’t grab me quite as strongly as I had been hoping for, I still really enjoyed my time listening to the audiobook.

Overall, I think One for All is a great story. Sure, it helps that it’s inspired by one of my all-time favorite classics. I loved having female Musketeers!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, as well as RB Media, for providing me with copies to read and review.

This is an impressive debut for Lillie Lainoff. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!!

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Review: The Excalibur Curse (Camelot Rising #3) by Kiersten White

The Excalibur Curse (Camelot Rising, #3)The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Excalibur Curse is the third and final book in Kiersten White’s Camelot Rising series.

In this slow-burn, character-driven YA Fantasy series, White puts her own unique spin on the legend of Camelot, incorporating classic characters many of us know and love.

The second book in the series, The Camelot Betrayal, ended on an incredible cliffhanger, with the fate of our heroine, Guinevere, hanging in the wind.

I literally gasped at the final plot twist in that book and knew that I had to continue with this story as soon as possible.

As this installment begins, Guinevere finds herself separated from her closest companions. In order to free herself from her sticky situation, and continue on her mission, she is forced to make some new allies. One in particular, I really enjoyed being added to the cast.

I’m looking at you, Fina.

If you have read the earlier books, you know Guinevere has a lot of unanswered questions about her past. Okay, unanswered questions is putting it mildly. She has no freaking clue where she came from or who she really is.

This causes her continued angst. She cannot continue to live feeling like she stole the real Guinevere’s life. She feels a fraud. She needs to find out her truth.

This story follows Guinevere over the ups and downs of her final quest for answers. What she finds…yeah, she’s not ready for it. It shakes her to her core and causes her to feel like she is unworthy of the life she leads.

Her friends and companions, those who love her, work hard to convince her that she is incredible just as she is. She has changed their lives. It doesn’t matter one lick where she came from. She is real and she matters.

While, admittedly, this started out slow for me, the pace definitely increased exponentially in the second half.

Also, I did finally get the answers I was hoping for and even though they weren’t what I expected, I walk away satisfied.

There were so many great relationships built throughout this series. I think that aspect is my greatest take-away from this whole story.

Each relationship was unique and it had its own special qualities. I would say my favorite to watch evolve over the course of the three books was Guinevere and Lancelot. Wow, the two of them and their bond, it absolutely fills my heart to even think about. That’s unconditional love.

Overall, I had a really good time with this series. It’s a bit romantic and dreamy, but it’s also full of twists, intrigue and fantastic characters.

As mentioned above, I’m really happy with this conclusion and can walk away comfortable that my favorites will live happily ever after…

Thank you to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I definitely look forward to reading more from Kiersten White soon!!

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Review: The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising #2) by Kiersten White

The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising, #2)The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Camelot Betrayal is the second book in Kiersten White’s Camelot Rising trilogy. Granted it had been a minute since I read the first book, The Guinevere Deception, so I was concerned about being completely lost when I picked this up.

Alas, I had nothing to fear. White is a seasoned author; she wouldn’t let me down like that.

In this installment, Guinevere is still struggling to find her place in Camelot. She feels completely unmoored by the fact that she cannot remember who she actually is and where she truly came from.

Even though her relationships with Arthur and her new friends continue to grow stronger, there’s still so much she needs to know. She has blanks she wants to fill in.

While she tries to remain focused on all that’s going on around her, such as Arthur working to expand his kingdom, and Brangien pining for her lost love, Isolde, it’s really difficult with these lost pieces of herself constantly looming over her.

When a young lady arrives in the kingdom, claiming to be Guinevere’s true sister, her mere presence threatens everything Guinevere has been working towards in Camelot. Or does it?

I will be honest, I wasn’t too sure about this one in the beginning. It started a little slow for me and the stakes didn’t appear to be particularly high.

I did enjoy the character growth Guinevere was displaying and I also really enjoyed the subplot following Isolde and Brangien; give me a rescue mission any day.

The further the story went on, the more invested I became. In the end, White really brought it around. There were many interesting reveals and now I am itching to get my hands on the final book.

There’s a showdown coming to Camelot and I want to be front and center for it!

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Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the SeaThe Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. The people believe the Sea God has cursed them. Therefore, every year, a young girl is thrown into the sea in an effort to appease him.

It is believed that these girls will serve as his wife until the next girl is sacrificed. Eventually one of the girls will be chosen as his true bride and the curse will end.

Mina’s older brother, Joon’s beloved, Shim Cheong, is the most beautiful girl in the village. Unfortunately, because of her beauty, Shim Cheong is set to be sacrificed. Joon will be heartbroken. Mina cannot let that happen.

So, on the fated night, Mina takes Shim Cheong’s place by throwing herself into the sea.

Guided by a majestic and slightly frightening dragon through the water, Mina enters the spirit world, where things are not quite as she expected.

The Sea God isn’t maniacally twirling his mustache, plotting evil deeds to unleash upon her village. He’s actually trapped in an enchanted sleep.

If she has any hope of ending the curse, Mina needs him awake. How else is he to choose her as his true bride?

Along with some new friends, including a mysterious boy named Shin, Mina sets out on a mission to try to discover the secret to waking him up. Time is not on her side, however, as humans can only survive in the Spirit realm for a short period of time. The pressure is on.

I had a great experience with this audiobook. The narrator did an incredible job bringing such a dreamy narrative to life. I was transported.

You might even say I was spirited away…

I have since discovered that this is actually a retelling of the classic Korean folktale, The Tale of Shim Cheong. I would love to get my hands on that now.

This was absolutely enchanting and I would be very interested to see how closely it connects to the original source material.

The entire story is so beautiful, so epic, so lyrical and so freaking amazing. I just can’t even express all the feels. I am clearly over the moon for this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me a copy of the audiobook to read and review. You better believe I will be snatching this up on release day!!!

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Review: Feather and Flame by Livia Blackburne

Feather and Flame (The Queen's Council, #2)Feather and Flame by Livia Blackburne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Feather and Flame is the second book is Disney’s The Queen Council series.

If you are unaware, this series imagines what happened post-happily ever after for some of our favorite Disney Princesses. Each book is the story of a different heroine written by a different author.

This story follows Mulan after her victory on the battlefield at the end of the animated film.

As the story begins, Mulan is living a quiet life at home. Well, quiet if you consider training her own female militia quiet. But China is at peace and it is a good feeling.

When Shang arrives with an invitation to the Imperial City, Mulan has no idea that her entire life is about to be flipped on its head. Again.

Once there, Mulan is treated to a private counsel with the ailing Emperor. He tells her he has a plan for his succession and it is her. She will be named his heir to the throne.

Unfortunately, the transition occurs more quickly than Mulan would have preferred. She is terrified, but must do what she can to rule her country to the best of her abilities.

With enemies lurking around every corner and the Huns sensing weakness, will Mulan’s reign be doomed from the start?

Mulan is filled with doubt and she’s scared. She feels alone. What if she can’t do this? There’s so much at stake.

Luckily, the Queen’s Council is there to help Mulan find her true destiny. What is the Queen’s Council, you may be asking?

I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just call it Mulan’s Spirit Advisor. Not spiritual advisor, mind you, SPIRIT advisor.

I had a lot of fun reading this story. It was great to be back with Mulan and to get an extension of her story that I think was greatly needed.

I have always loved Mulan as a character. She has such a quiet grace about her. She is humble, strong and determined in the face of danger. I was so happy to see that she kept all of these wonderful characteristics throughout this story.

This is a highly political story, so for those of you who maybe don’t enjoy a lot of political maneuverings in your stories, you have been forewarned.

For me, I love political fantasy, so this worked for me. I would have been happy with a bit more depth, but overall, I was quite pleased with this one!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books. I look forward to getting the next installment of this series!

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Review: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

GildedGilded by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gilded is the latest release from the ultimate Queen of Retellings, Marissa Meyer.

Pitched as a haunted retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, Gilded was one of my most anticipated 2021-releases. I preordered the heck out of this book and am so pleased that it now graces my shelves.

The narrative follows, Serilda, a miller’s daughter, who spends her days spinning tales for the children in her village. Her stories are wildly entertaining and full of untruths, even though to hear her tell them, you would think everything she says is possible.

Serilda is a truly gifted storyteller. Cursed years ago by the God of Lies, Serilda’s talent was bound to get her in over her head eventually.

When one of her stories draws the attention of the Erlking and his wild hunters, Serilda gets drawn beyond the veil into a world of ghouls, phantoms and other mythical creatures.

Based on her story, the Erlking demands that Serilda weave straw into gold for him, locking her in a tower, threatening her life if the task isn’t completed by morning.

After a mysterious boy appears in her tower room, Serilda discovers he has the exact magic she needs to save herself.

But who is he and what does he want with her? As the two get to know one another, their fates become intertwined in Serilda’s epic battle to free herself from the Erlking’s clutches.


As mentioned above, I had been really excited to get my hands on this book and it did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the audiobook from the publisher, Macmillan Audio. I decided to go with the audio version because of that and I am so glad that I did!

I previously listened to the entire Lunar Chronicles series on audio and had such a blast with it. To my sheer delight, I quickly discovered this audio is performed by the same fantastic narrator, Rebecca Soler!

She just has the perfect voice for Meyer’s stories. Whimsical and captivating, she breezes through Meyer’s whip-smart dialogue like she had written it herself.

In fact, that is one of my favorite aspects of Meyer’s writing; the dialogue. It is always so witty and fun, keeping me smiling even during the most intense scenes. Serilda’s perspective provided plenty of opportunity for Meyer to show off that comical style.

I actually read this entire story believing it to be a standalone novel. Surprise and elation, it is not!

This is actually the first in a duology, with the second book expected to be released next November. I cannot wait to find out the conclusion to Serilda’s story. I will definitely be rereading this one prior to that release.

If you have enjoyed previous works from Meyer, or just love a dark fairytale retelling, you absolutely need to pick this one up and give it a shot.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy of this to listen to and review. It’s an incredible story with some phenomenal narration to boot!

I cannot wait for the continuation of this story. 2022, here we come!!!

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Review: Evil Thing (Villains #7) by Serena Valentino

Evil Thing (Villains, #7)Evil Thing by Serena Valentino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Cruella DeVil, like many villains before her, is grossly misunderstood. In Evil Thing, Valentino does a great job building a backstory for one of my favorite villains.

Beginning when she is just a young child, Evil Thing explores the key relationships in Cruella’s life, particularly that with her Mama, Father and Anita.

Through the examination of these relationships, the Reader begins to understand how Cruella developed into the person we come to know through the original-101 Dalmatians animated film.

In fact, there is even a portion at the end that overlaps with the timeline from that original movie.

The narrative is told from Cruella’s perspective, as if she is recounting her life story. The narrator, Susanne Blakeslee, absolutely nailed Cruella’s voice and intonation. It was an incredible voice performance; highly recommend the audiobook.

Having read previous books in this series, I was actually surprised by the level of depth this one had. Pleasantly surprised.

Cruella’s story is a tragic one, full of disappointments, neglect and heartbreak. I felt for her, but I also wanted to shake her. She seemed to be blinded by love a lot of time; unable to see people for who they truly were, to her detriment.

Overall, this is an engaging and fast-paced story. If you are a Cruella fan, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Also, please do listen to the audiobook if you have the opportunity. It really is a stellar Cruella performance.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed my time with it!

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Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Within These Wicked WallsWithin These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andromeda, known as Andi, is a debtera; essentially, an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. Raised by a man named Jember, who Andi considers to be her father, she was trained by one of the best.

Jember is well known for his exceptional abilities as a debtera, but he’s paid for them; left with chronic pain and disability after previous jobs.

Andi and Jember have a complicated relationship. No matter how much she seeks his love and acceptance, she never seems to get it.

Thus, she finds herself at the cusp of adulthood on her own. She needs to start making her own way. When she gets offered a position to cleanse the mysterious Rochester household of a crippling case of the Evil Eye, she accepts.

The Rochester home is her first big commission on her own and obviously, she’s anxious about it. It doesn’t help that Andi quickly realizes this is a massive job; with horrifying manifestations around every corner.

The master of the house, Magnus Rochester, is charming and endearing, but also a bit of a rascal. Andi feels an almost instant attraction to him. Frankly, it would be hard not to be.

She vows to herself to do everything she possibly can to help him, even if it means putting her own life at risk.

Within These Wicked Walls is a debut Fantasy from author, Lauren Blackwood. Described as an Ethiopian-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel delivered exactly what I was hoping for.

I really enjoyed this story. The atmosphere was fantastic, dripping with danger and dark gothic vibes. Andi was an incredible main character to follow; I felt like I could really get behind her.

Magnus, as well, was a delight to read. I wanted to help him as much as Andi did; he was in so much trouble when she came to him. The stakes were extremely high and time was of the essence.

Andi’s life had not been easy. All the poor thing wanted was someone to love her; to feel like she belonged to someone, somewhere. It actually broke my heart a wee bit.

In spite of everything, she had such a capacity to give love and I wanted that for her. With this being said, the relationship between Andi and Magnus does tread a bit into Instalove territory; so, if this is a problem for you, you’ve been forewarned.

I didn’t mind it. I thought their banter was adorable and I was rooting for them.

I did find some of the magic system, for example, how Andi was working her amulets in order to cleanse the Evil Eye, a little confusing. Also, there were moments when I felt the narrative dragged just a little, or scenes became repetitive.

For the most part, though, those tiny things really didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story. This is an absolutely excellent debut.

It’s compelling from the start and the narrative solidly delivers what the synopsis promised. I definitely recommend this one for your Spooky Season TBR!

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me with copies to read and review.

I cannot wait to read more from Lauren Blackwood in the future. Exceptional debut!!!

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