Newt’s Emerald: A Review

Lady Truthful (Newt to her friends) is enjoying a rather typical eighteenth birthday until the Newington Emerald–a family heirloom and her entire inheritance from her dearly departed mother–disappears.

While the men in her life are keen to solve the problem for her, Truthful has a better idea. Disguised as a man complete with a mustache, Newt sets out to follow the emerald’s trail and recover the stolen artifact.

Aided by the shrewd but unobservant Major Harnett who believes her to be a man, Newt chases clues and dark magic across England in search of the emerald. As she comes closer to her quarry Newt will also have to confront the uncomfortable realization that in aligning herself with Major Harnett she may also have fallen in love with him in Newt’s Emerald (2013) by Garth Nix.

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Newt’s Emerald is Nix’s standalone tribute to regency romances everywhere–but with magic, of course.

Close third person narration and distinct world building help to add nuance to this comedy of errors as Newt embarks on a madcap journey to retrieve a stolen emerald and, perhaps, understand the machinations of her own heart.

Sparkling dialog, clever magic, and a plucky heroine make Newt’s Emerald an enjoyable diversion. Recommended for fans of both regency romance and historical fantasy.

Possible Pairings: The Hummingbird Dagger by Cindy Antsey, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen, Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George, The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Illusions of Fate: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten WhiteAlbion is dank and cold; a dreary, grey thing far removed from Jessamin Olea’s tropical island home of Melei. Even the people of Albion are different with their harsh, staid manners and so many of them obsessed with wealth or status.

With her dark hair and skin, Jessa never stood a chance of blending in here–even if she wanted to do such a thing.

No matter the hardships, Jessa knows moving to Albion will be worthwhile once her fancy Alben education is complete and she can use all of her new knowledge to help Melei and its people.

If Jessa hadn’t tried to walk down an alley on her way home from class, that might have been the end of the story. Instead, after a chance encounter with a strange and charming man named Finn Ackerly, Jessa’s life becomes something very different.

Soon Jessa is drawn into a magical power struggle between Finn and the sinister Lord Downpike. Weeks ago Jessa’s biggest concerns were keeping warm and trying to afford her textbooks while staying at the top of her class. Now, as enemies circle, Jessa will have to decide whether to stay on the path that will bring her home to Melei or bind herself further to Finn in Illusions of Fate (2014) by Kiersten White.

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White offers a clever and original story here that is a fine historial-esque fantasy set in a well-realized world. With wit and humor aplenty, Illusions of Fate also features a nuanced commentary on what it means to feel and be seen as “other” along with the power that comes from claiming one’s heritage and identity.

Ideas surrounding feminism and imperialism are also handled as thoughtfully as race here. Jessa is a fierce heroine who knows exactly who she is and refuses to compromise that sense of self for anyone. Unapologetic, smart, and more than capable of saving herself, Jessa is sure to appeal to readers of all ages. Finn is her perfect foil as these unlikely allies bring out the best in each other with chemistry that is evident in every banter-filled exchange.

Illusions of Fate is a delightful blend of fantasy and romance with an action-packed plot with more than a few twists. The story builds slowly to reveal a story that is both engaging and thoughtful as Jessa tries to navigate the murky waters of Alben society. Although the ending is rushed in places, readers will finish this book with all of the pieces they need to imagine what other adventures might be in store for this truly wonderful heroine.

Possible Pairings: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason, A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamology by Lucy Keating, Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier, Sabriel by Garth Nix, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Enchantée by Gita Trelease, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer