Mask of Mirrors by M. A Carrick- Book review

That’s another one off my #beatthebacklog. Here is my review of Mask of Mirrors by M. A Carrick- a fantasy full of intrigue,magic,con women and a masked vigilante

Genre: Fantasy

Source: My own

Series: Rook and Rose ( Book1)

Ren is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadežra with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing her fortune and her sister’s future.

But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the City of Dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled…with Ren at their heart.


This hasn’t been on my backlog list very long and perhaps I should have read some of the books sitting on my kindle for longer but I couldn’t resist that cover.

The story is told from a number of points in the third person but the main characters are Ren, the woman trying to con her way into high society, Donaia, the matriarch of the Traementis family that Ren is trying to con, Grey, a captain in the Virgil trying to find out the truth about Ren and Vargo, a crime lord trying to buy his way into the nobility.

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The Second Shooter by Nick Mamatas – Book Review

I enjoyed this fast-paced, mind-bending science-fiction thriller by Nick Mamatas full of twists, action unique characters and conspiracy theories. Read my review of The Second Shooter here.

I received a free copy from rebellion for an honest and unbiased review

Publication date : November 2021

Publisher :rebellion

Book review

Sometimes you come across a book that is so different and unique, it can be hard to describe the story or genre and The Second Shooter is one of those books.

Mike Karras, is a freelance writer who has been commissioned by an obscure, left-wing publisher intriguing named Little Round Bomb Books. His investigation is focused on the conspiracy theory of the mysterious second shooter, that witnesses claim to have seen at mass shootings and assassinations. He is sceptical until he finds himself in the middle of a mass shooting, becomes the target of a right-wing radio host, and is followed by drones. He tries to uncover the truth with the help and sometimes hindrance of his editor, some pesky teenagers, and a family of conspiracy buffs, the Alazars.

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The Mannequin House by R.N Morris – Book review

It’s my turn to review, The Mannequin House by R.N. Morris, a historical crime fiction featuring Silas Quinn, a detective with a dark side, who has to solve a strange locked room murder but the chief suspect happens to be a monkey.Quinn is now my favourite Detective!

Thank you, RN Morris and Canelo Press for an eARC for an honest review.

Mannequin House

From goodreads

In this intriguing historical mystery, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn investigates one of the strangest cases of his career . . . London, 1914. Called out to investigate the murder of a fashion model employed by the House of Blackley, a prestigious Kensington department store, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn of Scotland Yard’s Special Crimes Department is thrown into the bizarre: the chief murder suspect is a monkey. He may be sceptical, but how will Quinn ever get to the truth when faced with the maelstrom of seething jealousy, resentment, forbidden desires and thwarted passion that is the Mannequin House?


Silas Quinn has to investigate the death of a Mannequin, a model at Blackley, found dead in a locked room. Silas has to solve the case under the scrutiny of his superiors that seem a little too keen for him to fail. It doesn’t help that that Blackley, the owner of Mannequin House has his own view on how things should be done. His investigation is helped by the Sergeants Inchball and Macadam but hindered by detective Coddington, a terrible hypnotist and a fez-wearing monkey on the run.

Quinn is now officially my favourite detective!

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Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review and Discussion

I always forget how much I enjoy reading Queens’ Play, the second book in the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. Lymond infiltrates King Henri’s French court to protect the Queen Mary of Scots.

#DorothyDunett # Book review

Genre :Historical Fiction

Series : The Lymond Chronicles ( review here)

image form Amazon


“It was one of the occasions when Lymond asleep wrecked the peace of mind of more people than Lymond awake.”

― Dorothy Dunnett, Queens’ Play

The second book in Lymond Chronicles follows the Game of Kings where Lymond has been redeemed. Mary of Guise wants his remarkable mind to work for her and would do anything to have him commit to her cause. Lymond agrees to spy for her in the French court but on his own unique terms and discovers that the Young Queen Mary of Scots life is in danger. Lymond takes on another identity to infiltrate the French court but finds his life in peril from the start yet still charms his way into the inner circle and the bedrooms of the women ( and possibly men) of the Royal Court.

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Book review : Culling

Author :Eden Wolfe

Series: Book 2 The Lower Earth Rising ( Click here for Book 1 review Selfsame)

Genre: Dystopian Fantasy

The continuation of the Lower Earth series, a dystopian fantasy set in a world where men are dying out after ‘The Mist’ and Queen Ariane continues her cruel reign.

Goodreads summary

Thousands of innocent genetic deviants.
One Queen who wants them dead.

Leadon long believed Lower Earth was a promised land.

But now that crop killers have become commonplace and Queen Ariane systematically obliterates those she deems unworthy, Leadon learns the hard truth about life on Lower Earth.

Humanity is scarce. Food is even more scarce. Ariane is driving Lower Earth to the brink of disaster.

When Leadon bears witness to an extreme act of cruelty by the Queen, she is torn between loyalty to the Ganese people and the morality of Lower Earth’s original peoples.

Thousands of innocent lives hang in the balance. One word and the Queen will have them destroyed. Leadon must convince her enemies that they should combine forces and work toward a common goal, or risk the promise of tomorrow for all.

In Selfsame, Lower Earth had to look itself in the eye. In Culling, Lower Earth must run from its own reflection. 


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Book review- Selfsame

Author Eden Wolfe

Genre Dystopian Thriller( Part of the Lower Earth Series)

This was my first time using voracious readers only,  and my first time receiving a   book( free!) to provide a review. I had so many to choose from but this dystopian thriller set in a world where men are dying out caught my eye and I wasn’t disappointed.

From Amazon

Powerful. Beloved. And hunted for the secret in her blood.

Four hundred years after the Final war, eighteen-year-old Aria is poised to claim her birthright – the throne of Lower Earth.

It’s one of the last pieces of habitable continent left. Men are dying off from the after-effects of the war and women are genetically altered to survived.

But Aria’s blood is more advanced than any of them; she was designed from the genetic sequence of the settler queens.

Queen Maeva, Aria’s pseudo-mother, crushes all opposition. She has no fear of blood on her hands.

And she’s not afraid to do the same to Aria.

The threats multiply from within and beyond Lower Earth’s borders as destruction and colonization by the old men of Upper Earth approach their shores.

Aria has spent her lifetime preparing to take over the throne. Just as she is ready to fulfill her destiny, she’s blindsided.


Now being hunted, with enemies around every corner, Aria must battle the very totalitarian regime she was once destined to lead.

You’ll love this complex world in which good and evil are blurred for the sake of survival. Aria is a woman you’ll want to see win.


Book received from Voracious readers only as a review copy with thanks.

This was my first time using Voracious reader only- a service that connects eager readers with authors who are trying to get their books out there and I must confess to being nervous as I have read some bad self-published books in the world of Kindle unlimited. Once I had signed up, there was an influx of emails, with all sorts of books in my favourite genre but the cover and the synopsis of Selfsame caught my eye-I love a book set in a female-dominated society.

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Book Review-Bacchanal

Author  Veronica Henry

A fresh new fantasy with a cast of predominantly people of colour and a fascinating,complicated but I couldn’t warm to the main character.

Content warning: Children deaths, Racial Violence and slurs.

Genre Magical Realism/Low FantasyFrom Amazon

Evil lives in a travelling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.


In the 1930’s American South, Eliza, a young black woman with an unpredictable power joins Bacchanal, a carnival made up of almost black performers, to escape her deary existence. She settles into a new life as an animal performer using her abilities to control animals with her mind and starts to make new friends and finds love. But she knows something isn’t right and it has to do with the red trailer which is no one but the carnival owner can go near. She is right, the carnival hides an ancient evil and Eliza is the only one who can stop her no matter what the cost.

The good

I picked this book from Amazon first reads when I saw that striking cover and when I saw the main characters were people of colour in a fantasy set in a western setting, which is becoming more common but still is a bit of a novelty.

The book is told from several points of view, including the demon which was one of its strengths and also helped made Eliza a little more bearable as the main character( more on than at later). Clay, the nominal head of the carnival could have been a cardboard villain but the chapters from his point of view paint a picture of a deeply flawed man who is a product of his times and trying to do some good through actions that are morally questionable if not evil. Eliza’s power to influence animals through mental images feels fresh and new.

The book is full of mystical tales from Africa all well woven into the main story that seems to fit perfectly in a story about America struggling to survive the depression.

I loved reading about Madame Stephanie St Clair(aka Queenie) a black woman who was head of a crime syndicate in 1930’s Harlem and one of the highlights of the book was reading the author’s note on this remarkable woman. I honestly thought she was a figment of the author’s imagination but she is real and I plan to read a few more books about this woman, so ahead of her time.

The bad

There are too many points of view, pretty much all of the carnival people have one and I struggled to read the chapters from Hope’s and Autumn’s who are two of the performers in the carnival point of view. They seem to serve the sole purpose of trying to make Eliza a more likeable character and to justify why the people in the carnival turned a blind eye to all the bad things happening around them. I know they had a vested interest in keeping the carnival going but at some point you have thought one of the carnival folk would have had a moment of doubt.

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Book review-Plain Bad Heroines

I was really looking forward to read this book, after reading a review in a magazine describing this as a gothic horror. But unfortunely, I was left sorely disappointed despite the amazing cover.

Author:Emily M Danforth with Illustrations by Sara Lautman

Genre: Romance/drama( sometimes described as horror but more feels more creepy than scary)

Content :warning attempted rape scene

Good reads summary

Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations. 


This book is about a film about a book that is about a book- a memoir written in early last century by a teenage feminist Mary MacLane. Merritt, a young wonderkid whose bestseller about a tragedy occuring in 1902 is about to be turned into a film starring the famous actress Harper Harper. Merritt’s book delves into the death of two young girls obessed with Mary Maclane in a progressive school run by Libby and her lover Alex. But the main players in this story are being filmed to capture how the Merritt and Harper respond to a number of staged , creepy moments except these may not be staged, the film and the book may actually be cursed ( or not, I just couldn’t work this out by the end of the book.).Confused, I have to admit I was for most of the book.

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