Friday, April 22, 2022

Weekend Reads: My Top Picks for Next-to-Read (Lauricia)

Greetings, all, and happy spring. I hope you and yours are well!

I'm taking a bit of a different angle on my contribution to the blog today. As you know from my last post in February, I'm super crunched for reading time in the spring. I've also had some pretty intense health problems, but rather than back out of this month's post, I've decided to share a few books from my Want to Read pile and to tell you why. I'm familiar with these authors from Realm Makers, an international organization of Christian authors of speculative fiction, so I can promise that all of these recommendations are appropriate for audiences who read only clean fiction.

My first pick for you is Curio by Evangeline Denmark. Here's the blurb:

Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.”

I”ll be honest with you, The first thing that drew me to this book is its cover. I mean, the colors are gorgeous and the image promises steampunk fantasy – what's not to love? Also, Grey's conflict is realistic and personal while coinciding with the epic nature of saving the world, so I'm super intrigued.

My next pick is Kitsune-Tsuki by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. The blurb for this one reads:

How does one find a shapeshifter who may not even exist?

The onmyouji Tsurugu no Kiyomori, a practitioner of the mystic arts, has been engaged to protect the warlord's new bride from the fox spirit rumored to be near. Tsurugu and the shadow-warrior Shishio Hitoshi face an impossible challenge in teasing out a kitsune shapeshifter from the samurai and servants – if such a creature is even present at all.

The handsome mute twin servants belonging to Lady Kaede are certainly suspicious, but it is the beautiful and strong-willed lady herself who draws Shishio’s mistrust. Tsurugu and Shishio must move carefully, for accusing the warlord’s bride falsely would be death. But failing to identify the kitsune to the warlord is equally perilous, and there is more to discover. For an onmyouji knows secrets even the shadows do not….

Kitsune-Tsuki is a historical fiction novelette, the introduction to the series KITSUNE TALES. By reader request it includes a full glossary as well.”

I can't wait to dive into this one because I LOVE Japanese fairy tales and absolutely adore kitsune. Yes, I know they're traditionally demonic, soul-sucking man-devourers, but I'm enamored with the non-evil renditions: the woman-to-fox shape-shifting, the mystique, and the cunning beauty. Add that to the concept of this story, and I'm all in.

My third recommendation for you today is Havok Magazine. The blurb for the first edition says:

Enjoy the debut issue of Havok Magazine, your source for the highest quality speculative flash fiction. New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee headlines this issue with the beautiful story of a young woman who faces incredible odds when a murderous horde attacks her people.

Staff member Lindsay Franklin enlightens our audiences with "Hardwired," a story of a cyborg who falls in love. Plus, read six other speculative fiction stories ranging from a steampunk Pinocchio to a woman who literally married a monster.”

Full disclosure: I'm cheating a little bit with this one. I follow Havok on their Instagram page and subscribe to the magazine already, and I very much enjoy it. I'm not including it in this list because it's in my to-be-read pile, I'm including it because it should be in yours. You can get a taste for what's inside this magazine by reading the free story of the day on their website at

Do it. Do it now.

If you read any of these recommendations, I'd love to know what you think. Leave a comment or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.

Until next time, happy reading!

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