Romance, rodents, and witchcraft, oh my!


Radiance (Wraith Kings #1), Grace Draven.

I love, love, love this book! And the cover–so perfect! It’s a sexy romantic thriller about two people who wed for political purposes. Brishen is a prince of Kai, a race of dark-skinned, sharp-toothed, white-eyed (no pupils) people who flourish in the dark and considers all humans ugly. Ildiko is a noblewoman whose value to the king of Gauri rests in her ability to make a strategic marriage, even if it’s to someone humans consider monsters. It sounds like your typical “opposites attract” trope, but Draven has created two wonderful characters and completely pulls you into the story of how they come to respect and love each other. NOTE: includes fairly graphic sexual scenes. First of a duology.

Redwall, Brian Jacques.

Like The Nightshade Chronicles by Hilary Wagner, this is another wonderful book that features a heroic mouse. Jacques’s book tells the tale of peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey, who must defend themselves against an army of rats. They need the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior to win, a forgotten weapon that falls into the hands of a bumbling young apprentice, Matthias. Great adventure, a bit simplistic in how it presents characters, but still endearing and fun. First of a series.

Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin.

Yes, I’m going way back for this one, but it’s a classic for a reason. Levin is a master at creating a seemingly ordinary world that simmers with tension. The story follows Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, who move into a building with a reputation for witchcraft and murder. They’re befriended, obsessively so in Rosemary’s opinion, by neighbors who, it turns out, worship the Devil. When Rosemary becomes pregnant after a very disturbing “dream” she starts to believe she’s carrying Satan’s son. Eerie, chilling, best read in a well-lit room.


Relic (Pendergast, #1), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

From Goodreads: Visitors are being savagely murdered in the New York Museum of Natural History’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human… But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate a new exhibition in spite of the murders. Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who–or what–is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop a massacre? Sounds dark but intriguing.

Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1), Megan Crewe.

From Goodreads: Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages’ Exam… Okay, this has the tang of fanfiction, with two teens who fight to keep their magic, become unlikely allies, and begin a poignant romance. Reviewers have noted similarities to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Still, it looks promising, if only to see how Crewe makes it all work. First of a series.

That’s it for now. Any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.



Royalty living and dead, and supernatural worlds.


The Princess of Death, Courtney Pearson.

Cali is a spoiled princess whose world is turned upside down when a plague strikes her country, forcing her to try and cross a mysterious boundary to find a cure. A bit slow to start, but the story picks up with lively interactions between Cali the pirate king, Bae.  An intriguing premise behind the goddess of the sea as well. Pearson does a good job of exploring Cali’s dilemma over whether she should pursue duty or love. First of a series.

The Queen of the Damned (Vampire Chronicles #3), Anne Rice.

While I consider much of Rice’s work after Interview with the Vampire to be seriously bloated, I love this one. It features Lestat, whose kiss rouses Akesha, progenitor of the undead, from a 6,000-year ear sleep. She kills most of the world’s  vampires, saving a few to join her in a crusade against mortals.  Meanwhile, vampires and psychic humans around the globe are dreaming of twin red-haired women who weep over the body of another woman, whose eyes and brains are on a plate nearby. And then there’s Jesse, a member of the Telamasca, the secret society that collects data on paranormals. It’s a vast saga of dark sensual beings and has one of the most satisfying climaxes in her work. (BTW, the movie is so-so, although Stuart Townsend is good as Lestat.)


Paranormalcy, Kiersten White.

I’m not a big reader of urban fantasy but this series might change that. From Amazon: “Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours. She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.”

Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente

Sounds a bit kinky, to be honest: a world only accessed during sleep after sex? But the blurb is intriguing: “Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. . . . Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.”

Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading.






Otherworldly delights for this round.


OD MAGIC, Patricia McKillip.

I love this book so much I read it every year. Od is a wizard who needs a gardener for her school of magicians. But that’s only the start. The story takes place in a kingdom where unauthorized displays of magic are forbidden. So when a theatrical troupe that employs dazzling tricks stops in the city, it draws all sorts of unwanted attention. There are many characters whose fates are interwoven, so it requires a bit of patience with all the points of view, but the tale is wonderfully told and just might leave you wishing for a little magic of your own.

ORLANDO, Virginia Woolf.

A gender-bender, feminist classic that follows the adventures of a poet who changes from a man to a woman and lives for centuries, meeting the key figures of English literary history. Written for Woolf’s companion, Vita Sackville-West, it’s highly personal and a bit bizarre, but Woolf uses the story to criticize sexual and social expectations with wit and dark humor. Not for everyone, as it verges on stream-of-consciousness.

OUTLANDER, Diana Gabaldon.

I’m usually not much for time travel stories, but the romantic in me was charmed by the tale of Claire Randall, who walks through a standing stone in an ancient circle in 1945 Britain and finds herself in 1743 Scotland. She meets Jamie Fraser, a warrior, and eventually falls in love. Very strong writing that really delves into the main characters, avoiding the caricatures you might associate with romances. Very long, but so engrossing that the pages seems to fly by. Even if you’ve seen the TV series–Sam Heughan is definitely swoon-worthy–reading the book will provide a rich background.


OF SEA AND STONE (Secrets of Itlantis #1), Kate Avery Elison.

Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks, thinks the stories she’s heard about the People of the Sea, who live underwater and possess unimaginable technology, are just that–stories. Then she’s captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. How will she escape? The first in a five-book series.

Any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.