Review: Oracle of Philadelphia

17304890★★★★☆

Oracle of Philadelphia is the first book in Elizabeth Corrigan’s ongoing Earthbound Angels series. In this first installment, we are introduced to the owner of an unassuming Philadelphia diner who just happens to be a centuries-old Oracle. Carrie has borne witness to power struggles between Heaven and Hell for millennia, but she is drawn back in to their conflict in an attempt to save a man who has sold his soul to protect his sister’s life.

As someone who is mostly unfamiliar with mainstream Christian lore, I was pleased with  how the intricacies of the Earthbound Angels  world were revealed without feeling burdensome. Characters and their histories are revealed as the story weaves through time, shifting between present Philadelphia and scenes in Ancient Egypt or Paris in the midst of the industrial revolution. This look at their shared histories enhances what was  one of the greatest strength of this book: the bonds between characters. In such a large cast of angels and demons each has a distinct voice, goal, and purpose within the story. They exist independently, not as mere obstacles or aides for the protagonist. This extends to one of the most notable of Carrie’s companions, the fallen angel Bedlam. The duo’s rapport lends story humor and hope when in bleak times.

Though this is the first book in the Earthbound Angels series, it also serves well as a standalone story. I tend to stay away from series because the endings are often unsatisfying, leaving too many unanswered questions or relying on the next book to wrap up loose ends. Instead, Oracle of Philadelphia strikes the perfect balance. It is satisfying as a standalone read, but leaves ample room to expand on the questions left hanging in the books that follow. Whether you’re seeking a quick, well-developed urban fantasy novel or a new series to dive in to, I highly recommend checking this out.

Continue reading “Review: Oracle of Philadelphia”

Review: Black Crow, White Snow

45440171. sx318 ★☆☆☆☆

To sum this up in the quickest way possible: Black Crow, White Snow started off as an intriguing foray into a world of female pirates but quickly squandered any potential with an intense focus on the world’s matriarchy.

I picked this up on a whim because pirates and it sounded like it would be a welcome distraction from the incessant rush hour traffic. Instead, this story only compounded my frustration as I sat on the interstate. I was initially enthralled by the strong prose and great narration, but was lost soon after. In this story we get a limiting glimpse in what appears to be a very, very large world. We learn that these characters are a part of a matriarchal society that is at war, where magic is standard (albeit deadly to many), and where one’s gender will almost certainly decide what one will be in life. The ship of characters we get to know are on the way to find a mythic power that could help turn the tide of the long-fought war. And that’s about it.

These strong characters that were leading the charge to bring home a weapon that could save their people were instead two-dimensional and boring as hell. Bela is no inspiring leader in these trying times, and her lover was merely a sex object. Her crew were so redundant I could hardly distinguish them from one another no matter how much I went back to re-listen. Their egos and infighting all muddled together in the end. What irked me the most was the way the matriarchy was constantly harped upon. This wasn’t simply a society in which women were considered the stronger, superior sex and held more positions of power. It’s just disgustingly, over-the-top sexist. I was distracted constantly by the way characters in extreme peril at all times could take the time to bash and degrade the only male in the story. This is a well-worn trope that I did not expect to be the focal point of Black Crow, White Snow but was absolutely the downfall of it.

If you’re seeking out a story about strong, queer women of color, this is not it.

Continue reading “Review: Black Crow, White Snow”

30 Days of Pride Recs | LGBTQ+ Books I’ve Loved (Pt. 1)

Publication1In celebration of Pride Month I’ll be sharing 30 books with some awesome queer representation. Will these 30 books be representative of all the varied, amazing works by queer authors? Not at all. These recommendations are personal and are heavily influenced by the genres I love and the types of characters I tend to connect with. All books on these lists are ones that I’m reading, that I’ve loved, and that I’m excited to share with you. In this series of recommendations, it is safe to assume that all books listed are Own Voices unless otherwise noted. Instead of inundating your inboxes with a post every day, these recommendations will be coming out every Saturday in June, with a theme tying each list of books together. Continue reading “30 Days of Pride Recs | LGBTQ+ Books I’ve Loved (Pt. 1)”

Review: Magic for Liars

41555947★★★★★

Magic for Liars isn’t what I expected it to be. I had impressions from other early readers that it would be along the lines of a murder-mystery in Hogwarts, which turned out to be less-than-accurate. Instead, Magic for Liars is about the lies we tell ourselves, and each other. It is about the disastrous things that result from these lies, no matter how well-meaning they were, or how innocent they seemed.

It begins with the gruesome death of a staff member at The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. After an investigation by the authorities concludes the death a suicide, the heads of the Academy are unsatisfied. Enter Ivy Gamble, PI. Ivy isn’t like her sister- she isn’t magic like Tabitha and she doesn’t want to be. Though she spends most of her days following cheating spouses or investigating insurance fraud, she is reluctantly convinced (namely, by a large sum of cash) to re-investigate the death at Osthorne.

Ivy Gamble is a hot mess and an absolutely fascinating character. She is morally grey from head to toe and maybe a little bit out of her depth, but at her core intelligent and trying her best. The story unfolds entirely from her perspective as she sleuths around Osthorne, allowing herself to slip in to Tabitha’s world. There is some time given to the magic in this world as Ivy peaks into classroom and gets to know staff,  but there isn’t a deep dive into its limits and intricacies. This seemed to be a sticking point for some readers, but I never found myself bothered by it. The narrator of this story is non-magical, so it felt right that we only had topical glances at the various subjects via Ivy’s encounters with them.  Their relationships and interactions drive this plot forward without losing any of the atmospheric tension you’d hope for in a good mystery. It beckons you forward page after page and doesn’t let go until the very end. I found myself hanging on as I came approached to the conclusion thinking there was no way it was possible, skimming through previous pages making sure I hadn’t misread the the final discoveries because I couldn’t fathom how it could be. This book doesn’t give you that feeling of satisfaction that comes at the end of a typical mystery novel: the evil-doer unmasked, justice is served, our grizzled protagonist reflects with contentment on another case solved. No, the end of Magic for Liars is fucking devastating. It is devastating and brilliant.

While this book sits firmly in both the realms of mystery and fantasy, it subverts both. The evil in this book does not manifest in the form of a sadistic killer, nor is it a dragon to be slain. Ivy Gamble is not our hero, nor is this the story of her redemption. She arrives at Osthorne Academy as a deeply flawed person, and eventually departs in similar form. We don’t get to see her redemption. The choices she makes throughout her investigation are not always good, sometimes even amoral, and some of them will even make you uncomfortable. You might even see a little of yourself in their choices. Continue reading “Review: Magic for Liars”

Happy Trans Day of Visibility!

Image result for trans day of visibility

I just wanted to take a moment to send some good thoughts to any readers who identify as trans or are under the trans umbrella. You deserve so much more than the hardship and discrimination you experience. This will always be a safe space for you, whether you are questioning your identity, still in the closet, or out. I see you, you are valid, and you are valued.

On this blog, I’m always trying to seek out books by LGBTQ+ authors and guys, it isn’t easy to find them. The selection of queer fiction on NetGalley is sparse compared to other genres and Edelweiss+ is largely the same. Take the time to seek out these books, because there are so many great storytellers who go unknown. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite trans authors below, along with their books that I’ve read recently.

Grace Mead 

Grace Mead (she/her) is a practicing lawyer of 17 years. She graduated from Dartmonth and has spent the time since practicing law in Louisiana. She draws on these years of expertise in her debut novel, Defense of an Other. Defense of an Other follows Matt Durant, a young lawyer recently single after a break-up with his long-time girlfriend. After several beers, Matt finds himself at a gay bar and the unexpected victim of a hate crime. In defense of himself and another man, Matt kills one of the assailants and is arrested. Defense of an Other follows Matt’s trial with all the wit and drama of a Law & Order episode, and then some. You can read the full review of Defense of an Other here. Defense of an Other is still available to request on NetGalley until July 8.

Author’s Website | Goodreads

Ana Mardoll

Ana Mardol (xie/xer) is the author of several fantasy novels and a recent favorite of mine, No Man of Woman Born. There is little debate that the fairy tales we grew up hearing are solidly rooted in worlds where there are only two genders. Mardoll breaks this tradition in No Man of Woman Born in the most wonderful way. Xer stories are beautifully written, delightfully subversive, and I treasured each one. I cannot possibly understate how much I look forward to reading xer other books. You can read the full review of No Man of Woman Born here. No Man of Woman Born is still available to request on NetGalley until April 30.

Author’s Website | Goodreads

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson (they/them) is a poet and the author of Lord of the Butterflies, the very first book reviewed on this blog. Let me first say that I am no poetry aficionado, I find lofty prose just as dull as load of others do. So please know that when I say Gibson’s collection is brilliant, it is brilliant. Their prose is incredible and before I knew it, I had read the book cover-to-cover. So many of their poems have stayed with me all these months later and I can only hope that I’ll have the opportunity to see them perform live. You can read the full review of Lord of the Butterflies here. Lord of the Butterflies is still available to request on NetGalley until April 22.

Author’s Website | Goodreads


If anyone has any books by trans authors or books that feature trans characters to recommend, please comment them below!

Looking for ways to be a better trans ally? I recommend starting here.