Book reviews

Review of Mirrors & Magic by Katina French


This one gets 4 stars of 5

This is book 3 in a series called “The Clockwork Republic,” but don’t be put off by that point. Each story in the series is an independent story in the same world. They’re subtitled “Steampunk Fairy Tales,” and this is the first one I read. It won’t be the last.

It’s a ton of fun.

I have a soft spot for circus stories, I love alternate histories with a touch of magic, and I can seldom resist steampunk even when the gimmicks strain my suspended disbelief to the breaking point. This book had me at circus and never let go.

I found the whole read to be as light and chewy as caramel corn and twice as addictive. It’s a triple play of fun: a coming-of-age story, a light fantasy, and a classic tale painted up in a fresh, delightful coat of steampunk styling.

The plot starts with action, weaves and dances through backstory as lightly as an acrobat, and makes a lovely shadow-play out of the necessary world-building. There is enough description to deftly evoke the look and feel of the places and people, but not so much that it weighs down the action. The language is beautifully evocative, but never overwhelms.

This is a book of bright colors and dark secrets, easy on the angst and strong on sassy dialogue. Have a seat on the bench, grab the snack of your choice, and settle in to enjoy the show.Then come back for an encore performance with the other two books. I know I will.

Book reviews

Review: Hearts Before Diamonds by Bryan Fields

Hearts Before Diamonds by Bryan Fields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the latest in my “You Haven’t Read This Yet? You Should!” review series.

“Hearts Before Diamonds” impressed me, and I am not easily impressed. Easily pleased, yes, and willing to overlook flaws in the interest of expanding my reading horizons, but not impressed. I don’t often rate titles above 3 stars. (No, not even my own.)

When I do get excited, you can bet that some exacting high standards for a lot of picky details have been unexpectedly exceeded.

Intriguing premise? Check.
Clever dialogue free from jarring anachronisms or stilted phrasing? Check.
Entertaining, original tale, built with classic storytelling techniques? Check and check.
Polished, smooth writing free of spelling, grammar and usage errors? Check, check, and check.

Add those exceptional delights to a rollicking plot that blends the feel of a stiff-upper-lip British adventure novel with the tropes of a hard-boiled PI novel, sprinkle in some modern attitudes without damaging the authenticity of the setting, and you get … a GEM of a story. Pun intended. Of course.

It’s only a short story, but the world-building and the character development have more than enough strength to hold up a much larger plot. I enjoyed it from start to too-soon-reached finish, and I hope to see more of the main character soon. Bonus claps for a title and an eye-catching cover that evoke elements of the story without giving away plot.

Hearts Before Diamonds is currently 99 cents on Amazon, and it’s well worth every penny.  Gets yours here: Hearts Before Diamonds

The author’s full-length urban fantasy novel is also available for sale. Go buy them now. Seriously.

View all my reviews (on Goodreads)