review and cover mani: corpse & crown

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

From Alisa Kwitney comes a connected novel set in the same alternative Victorian England of Cadaver & Queen. Corpse & Crown follows the story of Agatha DeLacey, an Ingold nursing student who travels to London and uncovers a devastating secret about the country's Bio-Mechanicals. Inspired by the classic story of Oliver Twist and complete with a dashing Artful Dodger-inspired male lead, this retelling is a satisfying follow-up to Kwitney's clever and critically acclaimed young adult debut.


Oh my, CORPSE & CROWN did not disappoint. In fact, it surprised me. Like a hydra beast of Frankenstein meets Oliver Twist (I’m laughing because for real what is this mash-up and how did it work so well 😂) this book proved to be much different than its predecessor in all the best ways. I have to admit the very short back jacket didn’t instill me with overwhelming confidence, because there wasn’t much to anticipate, but now that I’ve finished, I understand the vagueness. Because holy moly, things things got crazypants. A slower burn turned into glorious, unpredictable, and escalating surprises, each chapter wilder than the last. Had the back jacket mentioned any specifics, they would’ve been spoilers, so while the description doesn’t have much “hype,” don’t be deceived. There were a ton of bananapants-level twists and overlapping storylines. 

Cover design by Mary Luna

Leaving this review spoiler-free means I can't talk about the plot's awesomeness in any detail, but I can share that CORPSE & CROWN did a fabulous job of reinforcing the problem of ego in medicine. Combining a doctor knows best attitude, both from a patient and practitioner perspective, with a desire to push limits, results in limitless opportunities for danger because nobody speaks up, too afraid to contradict a superior--one who likely has a reputation for not accepting critique in a positive way. Without those checks and balances, the need to prove a hypothesis or test new methods and medications can all-too-easily eclipse patient welfare in the name of science. A Frankenstein retelling is arguably the most appropriate place to examine the darker side of medicine, and as a woman with chronic illness, I was here for itThe phrase “practicing” medicine exists for a reason, and those who believe they’re above failure and can bend science to their will are the ones to stay away from, because while you’re writhing in agony on an exam table, they’re likely viewing you as a subject instead of a person and mentally adding up all the potential organs they can harvest from your body. 

Okay that last part may only be applicable in CORPSE & CROWN but keep your wits about you, friends.  

This series remains my favourite Frankenstein retelling, and I really hope there are more books on the way because a lot of crazy stuff went down that left things wide open. While some readers have skipped the first and headed straight for CORPSE & CROWN, I wouldn’t recommend it. Yes, the POVs are different in the sequel, but the concept behind Bio-Mechanicals is explained in greater detail in the first, and there are several crucial scenes that give context for certain relationships. Also, CADAVER & QUEEN is awesome and you need to read it just because of the awesomeness.

Historical science fiction with smart dialogue and strong female characters, the CADAVER & QUEEN series needs far more attention than it's gotten, because HELLO THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND YOU MUST READ THEM AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE SERIOUSLY JUST GO BUY THEM.

That is all.

The end.

Big thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC! 


For this mani, I used:

FingerPaints – Paper Mâché and Black Expressionism

OPI – Lucky Lucky Lavender and matte topcoat

China Glaze – Boujee Board, I Sea the Point, Bizarre Blurple

Glisten and Glow – After Midnight and Dinner and Drinks

So Nailicious – needle brush


review and cover mani: the wicked king

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. 


Oh Jude and Cardan, how I’ve missed those two crazy kids. Only by crazy kids I actually mean ruthless and ambitious Faerie conquerors. Granted, one was more willing than the other, and in THE WICKED KING, the mess Jude and Cardan left in their wake came back to haunt them big time. Naturally, that was bad for them and awesome for readers because hello webs of deceit!

OwlCrate special edition: Throne art © 2018 by Toby & Pete | Crown art © Rost9/Shutterstock.com
Photo-illustration by Sammy Yuen | Jacket design by Karina Granda
Jacket © 2019 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Holly Black is likely a member of the Fae herself, because her mind works on a higher frequency than mine. The true master of Fae trickery, with an uncanny ability to twist truths so they’re as close to lies as they can be, Holly Black outdid herself in THE WICKED KING. A series of terrible deals led to Jude and Cardan taking the throne, but each came with a price and holy cannoli, those prices were huge. Like a chessboard of betrayal and treachery, made more challenging by personal relationships and loyalties, each chapter had roughly 99 problems with few solutions in sight. The vast majority of those problems became Jude’s responsibilities to deal with, but what else had she expected when she assumed the role of puppet-master for a puppet who wasn't jazzed about his lack of autonomy?

The first half was a slower burn than I expected, because THE CRUEL PRINCE was essentially non-stop madness, but it set the stage for the rest of the story. Also, because this was the middle book, there needed to be some setup for future conflict, along with a deeper dive into Jude’s character. First person POV kept me inside her devious brain and I really enjoyed seeing her lust for power turn into an addiction. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Holly Black did a great job of showing that shift because the truth remained that Jude was a mortal trying to control Faerie and, well, the Fae will always be a few steps ahead. Watching things unfold while getting more and more complicated had me burning through pages like a madwoman by the end, which was BANANAS. 

That’s about all I can say without spoiling the first book because it’s a series you simply must read and I don’t want to ruin a single glorious moment. If you want some fantasy goodness with a dark edge, look no further than The Folk of the Air series. Only approximately 355 days until #3. 

Also, and this is neither here nor there, but I couldn't help but sing a variation of Madonna's Material Girl while reading:

Cause you know that they are li-ving, in a Faerie world, 
but Jude is just a mor-tal girl...

Either you're welcome for this, or apologies for getting a song stuck in your head 😂


For this mani, I used:

Essie – after school boy blazer

FingerPaints – Black Expressionism and Paper Mâché

Picture polish - instinct

China Glaze - Born To Rule and Chroma Cool

OPI - CIA = Color is Awesome, It's a Boy, and matte topcoat

Glisten and Glow - Mother Terra