A Recipe For Magic by Kat Howard and Fran Wilde Review

A Recipe For Magic by Kat Howard and Fran WildeA Recipe For Magic by Kat Howard & Fran Wilde (Illustrated by Wendy Xu)

Publisher: B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy (B&N SFF Originals)

Release Date: November 9, 2017

Pages: 12

Summary: At the Night & Day Bakery, spells are baked right into the sweets, cakes, and pies–sugar magic for joy, grains of patience, dark as chocolate. 

Lux’s mother taught her three recipes, with three spells baked inside. Ever since, she’s haunted strange cities’ sweet shops and cafés, seeking the familiar smells. When she found them, she’d lied so hard her teeth ached in the telling: “Yes, I have experience, yes I understand this is a certain kind of bakery, let me tell you my favorite original recipe.”

When Esmé agrees to give her a job at the Night & Day Bakery, Lux thinks she’s found home again. But regret clings to her like the smell of smoke, and nothing ruins a bake like the smell of regret.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: A Recipe For Magic is a delightful short story that’s set in a world where magic and spells are part of the every day and find their way into delicious treats through bakeries! This is a charming and immersive story that reveals the magic in the everyday!

Lux works at the Night & Day Bakery attempting to keep her apprenticeship with Esmé, the bakery owner, and she just can’t seem to get her baking quite right. She uses her magic to try and find easy ways out and knows it shows in her baking.

There’s a level of skill that comes with perfecting the most simple + complex treats from breads to cookies, even mile high cakes.

Lux has lost a number of jobs from past bakeries and Night & Day, she feels, is just another lost opportunity. However, Esmé gives her another chance and reminds her that where magic and baking are concerned, there must be a balance.

Over the course of the story we learn more about Lux and her family, mainly her mother and how baking has always been a constant in her life. She keeps it with her no matter where she goes, as well as some troubling memories of her past.

The writing really brings the story to life. As mentioned above, with such few pages I really became immersed in this magical world with bakeries, cakes, and the warm sugary-sweet atmosphere!

The magic of this world as shown through the bakeries is conjured from memory and emotion and overall the magical elements were developed in such a unique and intriguing way. The magic does get expanded on as the story progresses and just brings so much to the already fantastical atmosphere!

I loved learning more about Lux and her past, though we don’t get too much background on Esmé, both of them really come to life and are just such unique characters!

With the emphasis on emotions throughout the story and how they are deeply connected with one’s magic, I found that Esmé’s reminders of balance and finding the equilibrium in life was so beautifully weaved into the story & message anyone can relate to!

This short story was just so fascinating, magical, and delightful, I wish there were more short stories set in this world! The whimsy and wonder of A Recipe For Magic kept me smiling throughout~

A Recipe For Magic delivers such a unique story with delightful characters and world-building in such few pages! The tale really comes to life through the vivid and charming writing-style! You’ll want more from this charming and spell-binding world long after the final page!

I originally heard about this short story from Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog + fell in love with the beautifully illustrated cover (by Wendy Xu @AngrygirLcomics) & you can check out the full story Here if your interested! ❤ 

All Systems Red by Martha Wells Review

All Systems Red by Martha WellsAll Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #1)

Publisher: Tor.com

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Pages: 160

Summary: In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Review: All Systems Red is a fascinating  sci-fi novella told from the point of view from a serious & comedic AI unit. Great character development, unique world building, mystery, and bits of humor throughout blend together to deliver a novella that will leave you wanting more once you’ve reached the last page!

I loved this novella so much! I’m usually hesitant because of the short length, I might not get all the development, etc. I’m hoping for, but not with All Systems Red!

Just this first paragraph alone was a sign that this novella would be amazing:

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

Reading from Murderbot’s  perspective was so entertaining, hilarious and at many moments, pretty relatable too (b/c all it basically wants to do is to stay inside & avoid people 😂)

The story starts off on the coastal island of a distant planet where two teams of scientists are conducting research. The first sign of trouble is when two of the Murderbot’s scientists are examining a crater and get caught in an explosion.

After getting them to safety, they review their reports and with the Murderbot’s help, notice their report may have been altered or tampered with in some way.  Even more signs of trouble is that not only do they discover a section of their map missing, but almost land in a “hazard marker” and they can’t even contact DeltFall, the other team joining them on the planet.

They decide to see if the other team is okay with their leader, Dr.Mensah assessing the risks but ultimately agreeing they should check it out. Murderbot is always on her side, even when they get into trouble always sympathizes with her and understands the risks she must take to keep her team safe.

Along the way, it was great to see the Murderbot connect even more to its team (Dr. Mensah, Volescu, Pin-Lee, Arada and Gurathin)  even though its really hesitant in interacting with them.

Learning more about Murderbot itself (what its willing to risk and how it came to work with them) through its both serious and hilarious moments was genius!

The technology and politics of this world were so fascinating and it was great to learn about it from the perspective of an AI who understands so much, yet knows when to be comedic about it too!

They are such an integral part of the world and aside from learning more about the Murderbot & scientists, were such interesting aspects of the world/story that I’m glad to have gotten so much background on.

As the story progresses, it learns more about the government it works for and why these bad things have been going on during the mission.

I don’t really want to get into too many spoilers b/c its really an immersive and intriguing story that’s more fun when you discover it along the way.

I was worried about not getting enough world-building, but along the way as they explore the planet and try to solve the mystery, there’s so much depth to it that gets revealed.

My only minor issue was some slow pacing through out the middle. Aside from that…

All Systems Red is an immersive novella with a unique world and perfectly blends mystery, space + technology, and bits of comedy to deliver a fascinating speculative fiction/ science fiction short story that will intrigue you from start to finish!

Highly recommend to check out All Systems Red! 😍📚

The Grift Of The Magi by Ally Carter Review

the-grift-of-the-magi-by-ally-carter-book-reviewThe Grift Of The Magi by Ally Carter (Heist Society #3.5)

Publisher: NLA Digital LLC

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 105

Summary: Katarina Bishop is a thief. To many it wouldn’t matter that she now uses her considerable skills to re-steal valuable works of art and return them to their rightful homes.

She’s still a thief.

So that’s why Kat’s surprised when an Interpol agent comes to her one snowy evening, asking for Kat’s help.

The Magi Miracle Network was set to auction off a very rare, very valuable Faberge egg two days before Christmas, but the egg’s been stolen and now the charity’s reputation—and their future—is on the line.
Kat’s family and Interpol might be opposite sides of most jobs, but someone just stole Christmas.

Now it’s up to Kat and her crew to steal it back.

The Grift of the Magi is a Heist Society novella and is approximately half the length of the other novels in the series. It stands alone, but if you want read more about Kat and her crew check out Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and Perfect Scoundrels.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun and fast paced heist which takes readers back into the world of Heist Society!

Heist Society is a very special series to me, because it sparked my love of reading! Its been 3 years since Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society 3) released and after finishing this short story it brought back so much nostalgia.  It was truly wonderful to read about Kat and her crew again! 💖💕

The plot, dialogue, writing style, etc. were all fantastic! Yet, the strength of this story was definitely the character development.

Kat and Hale were beginning to get used to their newly developed relationship in Perfect Scoundrels, however by this point they have fully established it and it was great to see how much they’ve grown since then.

At the start of this story, Kat and Gabrielle have been approached by Interpol agent, Ameila Bennett because one of her dear friend’s (Elizabeth) London charity, the Magi Miracle Network, has been robbed.

Amelia reveals how special the organization is to her and believes Kat and her crew are the only ones who can help.

An auction is set to take place on Dec. 23, which will not only support low-income families around Great Britain but bring more attention to the organization itself.

A Faberge egg (1 of 3 Eggs of the Magi) has been stolen and it must be found before the auction takes place!

With Hazel Hale (Hale’s grandmother) the original founder of the Magi Miracle Network and W.W. Hale V currently the new chairman, he is automatically no. 1 on the list, considering Kat’s mother also had one similar to it and believes Hale knew that too.

The crew has 11 days to figure out who really stole the egg (possibly even a forged one) and get the real one back in time.

Carter’s writing kept the story fast paced and entertaining. There was definitely expansion on side characters introduced early into the Heist Society Series, like Amelia, Gabrielle’s mother, and even more development on my favorite characters like Hale & Kat!

Additionally what I adore about Carter’s plots/writing style, like in this short story, is how she leaves clues here and there which makes it so much fun to uncover the secrets/mysteries of the cons and characters as you go.

Kat really revealed her more humorous side in this story which I loved! (She was so funny!) Overall it was just amazing to see how much she grew and see her and crew back again for another heist!!

The mystery and con was planned perfectly. I didn’t know who to trust and there were twists and turns, but it all wrapped up wonderfully in the end.

My only minor issue was some moments of slow pacing and just wanting a little bit more character development (mainly from side characters towards the end).

I adored this novella and my fangirl heart is still processing the amazing-ness of another Heist Society story!!  🎉🎉

Highly recommend if you are a fan of the Heist Society Series or are looking for a fun and fast paced Heist/Con story to read during the holidays!

October 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

175645191.Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Walk On Earth A Stranger Full Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Pages: 436

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: An immersive mash-up of Fantasy & Historical Fiction! I loved the atmosphere Carson weaved into this story and the characters are all well developed! However, due to slow pacing and not getting enough from the plot, I was a little disappointed. But once I reached the end, I definitely found myself interested to see what happens in the sequel!

the-female-of-the-sepcies2.The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female Of The Species Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 344

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts:  McGinnis discusses rape/rape culture through multiple POV’s among other topics that weave together to craft an important read with phenomenal writing and complex+well-developed characters.

forest-of-memory-by-mary-robinette-kowal3.Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Forest Of Memory Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Pages: 88

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: A mysterious and immersive short story! There were so many unique concepts from an antiquities dealer, AI tech part of daily life, and a futuristic setting of the Pacific Northwest! Its a quick read and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My only issue was the slow pacing and there were some aspects discussed that I wish were given more of a central role! Highly recommend if your looking for a short but different Sci-Fi story!

4.The Universe Of Us by Lang Leavthe-universe-of-us-lang-leav

The Universe Of Us Full Review

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A delightful collection of poems about love and loss with a central theme/backdrop of space and the universe. However I did take away 1/2 a star b/c not all of them revolve around this theme, which is what I was expecting. Regardless, its a quick but very moving collection.

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore5.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When The Moon Was Ours Full Review

Publisher: Thomas Dunne

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: A beautifully written magical realism novel with so much diversity and important themes, remarkable characters, and a writing style that is truly magical! I highly recommend this book. With character development at its core, McLemore delivers a story of the importance of family and self-identity!

our-chemical-hearts-krystal-sutherland6.Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts Full Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnams Sons Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 313

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A YA Contemporary with equal parts humor and heartbreak! What I loved about this novel was definitely the characters! They were wonderfully written. If you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell or John Green, definitely check out Our Chemical Hearts! Its an engaging and honest tale of first love! Highly recommend

descender-volume-1-tin-stars7.Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen

Full Review To Come

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: September 24, 2015

Pages: 160

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fascinating Sci-Fi comic which features AI Tech + Robots!! I don’t usually read much sci-fi, but this comic had been on my radar for quite some time, so I decided to give it a shot & wow I loved it! The watercolor art-style is absolutely stunning and the story is very unique! More to come in my full review!

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Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal Review

forest-of-memory-by-mary-robinette-kowalForest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Pages: 88

Summary: Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.

There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A captivating and mysterious short story where technology has become a fundamental part of everyday life.

Having listened to audio drama podcasts recently (many in the vein of quirky sci-fi/fantasy) I was easily transported into this Dystopian/Futuristic Pacific Northwest.

Centering around a futuristic world where AI Tech is a part of everyday life, Katya Gould, the main character, recounts her story on a typewriter of what happened to her when she found herself in a forest with her connection to her AI tech mysteriously cut-off and how she gets tangled with a mysterious character who is hunting deer.

Katya’s recollection of this moment in her life was written in such a unique way. There are misspellings/typos throughout this short story and I felt they really tied into how this world with so much tech. had influenced Katya as a character and the imperfections of memory.

Another aspect that made this short story so much fun to read was the overall concept. Katya is an antiquities dealer who trades objects (mostly tech) that are vintage or everyday objects we have today, such as books, that have been used/have lived through experiences and are seen as nostalgic to people in this world.
This novella brings up fascinating ideas in such a short amount of time such as man and machine, connecting with nature, and the importance of memory. The ending is rather open ended, but I felt so connected to this world in such a short amount of time.

However I did take away a star b/c the pacing felt slow at times and I wish Katya’s job dealing with Authenticities was given a bigger role because it was such a fascinating concept!

Overall a mysterious, unique and immersive story that I highly recommend. Katya’s POV will keep you reading from start to finish as you uncover more about this peculiar world!

April 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

Kindred Spirits1.Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Kindred Spirits Full Review

Publisher: Macmillans Kids UK

Release Date: February 25, 2016

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: Regardless of the length of this story, Rainbow Rowell creates characters that feel so real! Rainbow,similar to Fangirl, expands on the idea of cultures/fandoms!

Delilah Dirk2. Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk Full Review

Publisher: First Second

Release Date: August 27, 2013

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Starhalf star

Overall Thoughts: A fun, adventure-filled graphic novel! The characters were both entertaining and complex! Highly recommend if you love graphic novels/comics!

Water's Wrath Cover3.Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova (Air Awakens #4)

Water’s Wrath Full ARC Review

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Release Date: April 26,2016

Pages: 350

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Starhalf star

Overall Thoughts: Another great addition to the Air Awakens Series! I personally found this book a little slower than the previous ones, but there is so much that happens in this book & really builds up to the final book!

Truest4. Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

Truest Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (EpicReads)

Release Date: September 1,2015

Pages: 378

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: I loved this book so much!! ❤ There is a lot of great characters/character development! Many issues are discussed in this novel such as family, friendship, religion, mental illness and the writing style is absolutely wonderful! Highly Recommend! ❤

The Star-Touched Queen5. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen Full Review

Publisher: St.Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: April 26, 2016

Pages: 352

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: Persephone meets Indian Mythology in this YA debut! The writing goes hand-in-hand with the complex world-building and characters in this this story! Maya goes through a journey not only to better understand her world, but herself as well! Highly Recommend!

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What Books Did You Read This Month? 🙂

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell Review

Kindred Spirits.jpgKindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: Macmillans Kids UK

Release Date: February 25, 2016

Pages: 96

Summary: ‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

My Thoughts:

Being one of my all-time favorite authors, I will literally buy/read ANYTHING Rainbow Rowell writes! ❤ ❤

Honestly the only movie I’ve seen in its entirety is The Force Awakens, but I also have general knowledge of Star Wars. With that, I’m glad I was able to understand most of the references!

Over the length of 4-days, Rowell tells the story of Elena who is a huge fan of Star Wars and camps-out for the premiere of TFA, while befriending people in line. (Troy & Gabe)

In true Rainbow Rowell fashion, her writing style creates complex characters and a plot that feel so real!

+ she is a master at expressing fandom culture/fandoms!! ❤ 

While this is a short-story, it was great to see character development! (Gabe getting to know Elena as he story progressed)

I only had basic knowledge of the plot of this sort story, so I wouldn’t get spoiled, so I did not expect Elena’s camp out to be the opposite of what she expected!

But that is honestly what made the story so much more enjoyable!

With that, we learn more about her father and how he contributed to her love of Star Wars + how his absence has made her love for Star Wars much more stronger!

As I’m sure many other readers of Kindred Spirits will agree w/ is:

I wish this story was longer!!

With any Rainbow Rowell story, she always ends it when we want more!!

I did take away a star b/c:

I wish Elena talked more w/ Gabe!

They only started talking more toward the end of story a little while before they got into the movie + once they’re actually in the theater!

By the end, when Gabe+Elena fall asleep during the movie, Gabe offers her a ticket so they can watch it again!

Its obvious there is a friendship/relationship developing between the 2 & it sucks the story ended where it did!

Overall this was a lovely short story from Rainbow Rowell +

I really wouldn’t mind reading a full length novel on these characters!!

If you’ve read Kindred Spirits, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂