{audiobook} Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
Publication: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1

Book review

Narrated by: Leanne Woodward
Release date: June 23, 2021
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins

**I was provided access to the audiobook through the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town. Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes). Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

I’ve gushed about the Clandestine Magic Trilogy as being one of my favorite trilogies in 2020. It was about time for a reread it when I found out about the audiobook. I don’t typically listen to audiobooks because I’m picky about narrators, and audiobooks take longer than if I read the book myself. I don’t mind audiobooks as rereads though. I immensely enjoyed the audiobook Subversive.

Subversive is the perfect blend of everything I love: historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. As a student of political science, I thought Cowley captured perfectly the distribution of power as it relates to women’s rights and those without magic, or typics. Those with magic hold an inordinate amount of authority as compared to those without magic and women have fewer rights compared to men. Wizards and men try to maintain their power by ensuring women remain without it. This serves as the backdrop to Peter’s return to his hometown and his employment of Beatrix. The reread reminded me why Beatrix and Peter make the perfect duo and remain one of my favorite couples.

While I initially listened to the audiobook at its normal speed, I eventually increased it to 1.1x its normal speed. Because I usually talk fast, this was a perfect speed and sounded more natural to me in both pace and tone. Once I got comfortable with the speed, it was easy enough to enjoy the narration. Through Leanne Woodward’s narration, Cowley’s magnetic storytelling comes to life. Woodward is the perfect narrator, and I don’t think I would have been able to finish the audiobook had I not liked her narration. Her enunciation is perfect, and her voice is clear. Characters are distinguished through different voices, which I liked a lot. Even with multiple female characters, each voice is distinct from the other so it’s easy to tell the individuals apart. For instance, Beatrix’s voice sounds closer to the narrator whereas Beatrix’s sister Lydia has a softer voice and is higher in pitch. Aside from the voices, I especially enjoyed the variation in intonation to exhibit an array of emotions. One of my favorite displays of this is when Beatrix first realizes what Peter has planned for her.  Woodward’s anguish as Beatrix called to me and broke my heart just like when I first read it.

I hope Leanne Woodward remains the narrator for the rest of the books. I already have Radical, book two in the trilogy, lined up as my next listen.

The Bookworm’s Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Kat @ KBbookreviews. Kat has read some fun books including In The Ravenous Dark and Six of Crows. If you’re curious if they’re goods reads, make sure to read Kat’s reviews! Also make sure to read Kat’s responses to the book tag.

The Rules:

  1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you
  2. Include the tag graphic in your post **
  3. Answer the 10 questions the blogger asked
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers
  5. Ask your nominees 10 book related questions
  6. Don’t feel bound to these rules
  7. Have fun!

**I didn’t see the graphic and was unsure where to find it. If someone knows, please let me know and I will update this post**

1. Do you have a favourite book quote? If so, what is it?

This is a hard question. I have a Quotes feature with quotes from books and other places. A recent favorite quote is from Mhairi McFarlane’s Just Last Night (2021):

2. Who is your favourite book character from your reads this year?

My most recent favorite character hails from the Ignite the Stars duology, the Blood Wolf herself, Ia Cōcha .

3. If you could only recommend one book to someone, which book would it be?

I just did a Let’s Talk Bookish post on this and chose The Sun is Also A Star. I love how everything takes place in a single day and its infusion of the scientific method.

4. You have found yourself in trouble but can have the help of one book character, who would you partner up with and why?

Oooohhh!!! This is a good question and a really difficult one. I am going to have to say… shape shifter Simon Wolfgard from Anne Bishop’s The Others series. I have a book crush on him (he’ll keep me occupied so I don’t freak out about the trouble) and he’s also a problem solver with connections (I swear this is the real reason why I would partner up with him…hahaha).

5. Who are your top three favourite book villains?

6. Do you prefer single or multiple POV books?

I’ve learned to enjoy multiple POV books, but I can’t have too many POVs or else I get antsy because I want to get back to the main character. Two and possibly three is a good number for me.

7. What is your favourite and least favourite genre?

I love fantasy and romance the most. They’re nearly on equal footing. My least favorite genre is probably horror. I scare easily. If I read a horror novel, I don’t think I’d be able to sleep for a while.

8. Do you own an special edition books? If so, which ones?

Do collector’s editions count? The only ones I can think of right now are Shadow and Bone and The Six of Crows duology. I haven’t read them but I couldn’t help but purchase special editions because they were so pretty. I also lucked out and got Illumicrate’s The Poppy War trilogy special editions.

9. Which authors are auto-reads for you?

  • Rachel Lynn Solomon: Solomon’s writing is impeccable. Today Tonight Tomorrow remains one of my favorite novels. Recommendation: Today Tonight Tomorrow
  • Stacey Lee: Lee reminded me why I used to love historical fiction and her protagonists provide a nuanced glimpse of history that is normally absent from history books. Recommendation: The Downstairs Girl
  • Suzanne Park: Park’s characters are relatable and I love the humor in them. Recommendation: Loathe at First Sight

10. What is your favourite mythical/magical creature?

Dragons reign supreme for me. They’re the reason I fell in love with fantasy in the first place.

My Questions:

  1. I’m stealing from Kat and would like to know, do you have a favorite book quote? If so, what is it?
  2. What is the first book you can recall that made you realize you would be a lifelong reader?
  3. What was your first 5-star read this year and why?
  4. What is a place you’d like to visit because you read about it in a book? It can be a fictional or nonfictional place.
  5. Which character from a book would you like to trade places with for a day?
  6. What book would you change the ending to?
  7. What is one of your favorite tropes and a book that does it well?
  8. Who is a secondary character you adore and deserves a book of their own?
  9. What is your favorite retelling?
  10. What is one reading goal you have for the remainder of the year?


Please do not feel obligated to complete the tag.

Music Monday 1.11: You and me…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

Let’s continue with the 90s. Here’s a group I didn’t learn to appreciate their later years and then they went on hiatus. They have since released new albums. I was so disappointed I couldn’t make their 2019 reunion tour. This particular single appeared on their debut album Cracked Rear View, released in 1994. “Only Wanna Be with You” made it to #6 on the U.S. charts. Darius Rucker has also found success as a country singer. I love his country music too. Enjoy!

First Lines Fridays 1.10: She was seventeen

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

She was seventeen, and her life was about to end.

The girl pushed back strands of her tangled black hair and pressed her forehead flush against the glass window. Outside were twenty starjets from the Royal Star Force, the military fleet of the Olympus Commonwealth. A shimmer of panicked whispers flittered around her, and she realized the other passengers had seen the squadron coming their way, too.


by Maura Milan
ASIN/ISBN: 9780807536254
Publication: September 4, 2018
Series: Ignite the Stars #1

Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen? (from Goodreads)

The book was magnificent! I don’t normally read space operas but I devoured this in a few hours. I loved it! I’ve been trying to write a review and keep wanting to just summarize the whole thing, reliving it in my head. Have you read it?

Good Luck Charm (2018)

by Helena Hunting
ISBN: 9781538760154
Publication: August 7, 2018

One of the most difficult parts of second chance romances is how the feelings you used to have betray you when you see one another again. It’s over, maybe it’s been a long time or maybe it was just moments ago, yet just the sight of the other person can stir your heart, your memories. Unbidden. Ethan and Lilah are caught in this position when, after eight years, they finally see one another again. When they broke up, it wasn’t because love disappeared. It was due to circumstances. He was away at college and headed for a professional hockey career, and she was still trying to finish high school to be with him. He was an ass and broke up with her over the phone–yes, that needed to be said–then ceased speaking to her again. Even after eight years, no one else has ever fit, or felt, quite right. This is their potential second chance.

When I first read Good Luck Charm, I was disappointed because I disliked the trajectory of the storyline. The romantic tension was immediate, and it was obvious feelings were still there. They moved on with their lives or at least tried, but a single touch was still enough to ignite a spark.  I wanted more of the chase, a lot more groveling, and then a happily ever after that made up for a failed first time. I got one out of the three. At first, it was infuriating on my part. I wanted him to suffer some more but what was the use of the chase and groveling if she already knew she still loved him–to have him suffer of course, but she loved him enough not to do that. Argh! I couldn’t stop thinking about the book. It was as though I didn’t really give it a chance to be better.

A few days ago, I gave Good Luck Charm a second chance, and I was well-rewarded this time around. Because I was wrapped up with what I didn’t get, there were things I missed that I caught this time, moments that hadn’t stuck out to me before. I better understood Lilah’s mixed emotions and her struggles as well as her concerns over her new relationship with Ethan. The story isn’t just about getting a second chance but ensuring the second chance would work. The HEA here required more time to work toward because second chances carry with it new and old fears, new and old expectations. For their love to win, Ethan and Lilah would have to face each of this head-on. They needed to work through the problems that could lead to their eventual downfall if not heeded early on. Although Hunting didn’t give me more groveling, she provided patience and understanding. She provided maturity and well-needed introspection.

I enjoyed Good Luck Charm much more this time, changing it from 3 stars to 4 stars. Like Ethan and Lilah, it wasn’t about my lack of affection for the book; that was very much present even if I didn’t realize it. I had a chance to set aside elements I wanted in a second chance romance, choosing to look at the pieces already there, and watched as they fell into place. Did I wish the chase was longer? Yes. Did I still want more groveling? Yes. But, I was also able to appreciate it for its own merit. Some books deserve second chances; I’m glad I gave a second chance to this second chance romance.

Love Her or Lose Her (2020)

by Tessa Bailey
Publication: January 14, 2020
Series: Hot & Hammered #2

I liked the premise of the story, and it is immediately engaging as the book begins with Rosie miserable while on the job. When a customer attempts to hit on her, it’s the catalyst to a life-altering decision to leave her husband–something that has been a long time coming. What are you supposed to do when your relationship ceases to be what it used to be, nor does it seem to be growing in a positive direction? What do you do when communication halts? Rosie sees this as her only choice while Dominic feels blindsided even though it hasn’t escaped his notice that their relationship isn’t how it used to be or how it should be.

With dual points of view, Rosie describes a relationship where she’s lost herself and her dreams. Her life is monotonous, which isn’t something she necessarily seems to mind, except that the person she loves is closed off and doesn’t make her feel loved anymore. From Dominic’s perspective, Rosie is the only woman he’s ever loved, but he is withdrawn and can’t seem to fulfill the role he thinks he should be doing. Like Rosie, he is aware their relationship is different but doesn’t know how to break the cycle. In each of their chapters, it is exceedingly clear that 1) the sex remains fantastic and 2) love for the other person has never ceased. The true culprit? A lack of communication contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. Unfulfilled dreams and somewhat unwarranted self-expectations place further strains in a once passionate relationship. Being that it’s a romance novel, the question isn’t whether there will be a HEA but how they will arrive there. It’s heartbreaking on multiple levels to see a relationship break down but there’s always hope when individuals are willing to try. And that’s what Rosie and Dominic do, they try.

While I wanted to lay all the blame on Dominic, I appreciated the realistic portrayal of the relationship where the fault is not one-sided; it takes two. Because individuals become too preoccupied with their own needs, they may forget their partner’s needs. Rosie and Dominic are receptive to each other and put in the effort once they are allowed to share how they feel. The book emphasizes the theme that love can serve as a foundation, but it needs to be nurtured to remain structurally sound. I’m not sure exactly how I felt about how their relationship problems were resolved. I was disappointed with how some of their problems were resolved and how quickly they were resolved, especially their last problem and its resolution, which seemed to sweep things under the rug more than anything else.

Love Her or Lose Her is the type of story that encourages readers to reflect on their relationships and examine if they’re doing enough for their relationship and their partner. Or, it could just be me because I certainly did a lot of thinking. I like when romance novels provide me with these moments of contemplation. Bailey effectively presents a story that addresses the essential role communication plays in a relationship and how crucial it is to try to understand a relationship from the other person’s perspective. While the first half was engaging, the second half started to slip with the relationship problems solved almost too easily.

Dear Librarian (2021)

by Lydia M. Sigwarth
Illustrated by Romina Galotta
ASIN/ISBN: 9780374313906
Publication: June 1, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

After leaving their home behind, Lydia and her family stay with various relatives in their homes. She’s without a home of her own until she discovers the library, a place where her imagination can run wild and there is space to do so many things. The most special spot of all is where the librarian is located.

Dear Librarian is a touching story of the effects libraries and librarians have on children. Like Lydia, the library was a sanctuary for me when I was growing up, and it continues to be one when I need to escape the noise of adulthood. I loved the book. It made me tear up! It immediately reminded me of Gary Paulsen’s autobiographical middle grade read Gone to the Woods. In it he also attributes his path to a librarian. The illustrations are charming, especially the one above with the sun shining through. However, my favorite illustration is probably the first page, because the book opens to a drawing of a library checkout card. The library is indeed a magical place.

The Mid Year Freakout Book Tag

I was tagged by Saniya @ sunnysidereviews. I enjoy Saniya’s insight on books and adore the blog’s banner. It’s cute! If you get a chance, check the blog out!

The Mid Year Freakout Book Tag provided an opportunity to look back at my year thus far, mostly good with only one or two not so good.

The Best Books You’ve Read so Far

Because I’ve read quite a few I consider to be best books this year, I’ll limit it to just a few that come to mind. The most recent one is Ignite the Stars. I’m still reeling from the end of the duology and all the emotions Milan put me through.

New Releases You Haven’t Read Yet, but Want To

I waited impatiently for these and when they arrived, I was too anxious to read them.

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

I am so excited for all of these, but probably especially The Bone Shard Emperor. Andrew Stewart keeps teasing it and the third book on Twitter. It’s so devastating because it cannot get in my hands fast enough.

Biggest Disappointment

I am so angry with this book. Last year, I also had a historical romance novel that disappointed me also. Argh.

Biggest Surprises

I adored both of these two books. I’m still working on the review for Ignite the Stars. Spoiler alert: It’s 5 stars.

Favorite New to You Author

Stacey Lee
After I read The Downstairs Girl, I quickly went through the rest of her novels. Lee reminded me why I used to love historical fiction. Her historical fiction novels provide a glimpse of the history through the lens of those who are often removed from history. I’m eagerly awaiting the addition of her next novel.

Favorite Debut Author

Angeline Boulley
Boulley’s debut was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller. I normally stay away from thrillers, but Daunis is a compelling character and many of themes resonated with me.

Newest Favorite Characters

Ia Cōcha
The Commonwealth’s most wanted criminal. A hero to rebels. Ia is badass. I love her.

A Book that Made You Cry

A Book that Made You Happy

Favorite Post You’ve Done this Year

This was a fun post and I’m hoping to do another discussing some other book related topic.

Books You Need to Read By The End of the Year


Please do not feel obligated to do the tag if you would prefer not. If you do, I’m looking forward to checking out your answers.

Music Monday 1.10: I think it sucks…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

I needed to interrupt my 90s nostalgia for the most recent song I have on repeat. This song deserves to be shared far and wide. It’s the 80s beat I love. I’ve enjoyed Platt’s entire Reverie album.

I wanna love you, but I don’t / I wanna need you, but I won’t
I begged my heart to start to race when I’m kissing you
I say I’m dreaming ’bout your face, but it isn’t you

I hate cheating. I hate love triangles. Yet, I find myself making so many exceptions for Kennedy Ryan. Case in point, Block Shot. Banner is in relationship when she meets Jared again. They have history, but he broke her heart in college, and he’s never forgotten her. Try as she might, he’s been hard to forget too. Her books are emotional, poetic, and leave me in book comas more often than not. It’s #2 in the Hoops series but can be read as a standalone.