Becoming Human – Holly Grey

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Fantasy books aren’t normally my thing, but I’m determined to continue branching out and this piqued my interest. It’s a very sweet book with lots of fantasy elements threaded through human interactions, good and bad.

Jack is called into acton protecting Marin, an animal in human form on a month long road trip to deliver Marin safely to a meeting of leaders. Marin is described as the most important leader in the world, and essentially the story tells both their journey in literal terms as they try to stay safe, and their journey in getting to know each other in the strangest of circumstances.

I loved all the interactions with things humans consider to be normality and Marin learning about them. This brought both some sweet and humorous moments. The book has its violent moments, but because they are enmeshed in the fantasy world they didn’t read as particularly harrowing to me, but it is something to be aware of.

There isn’t much romance in the book, it’s very slow burn. It’s more day to day interactions, sweet conversations and how they protect each other from the world.

I liked how all of the secondary characters were written. They were well placed, either to complement the road trip protection aspect, enhance us getting to know Marin and where she is from, or to appreciate Jack’s past.

I found the ending to be a little underwhelming, but I can understand why it was done like this. I still had many questions and would just have liked an extra chapter or two to finish things off.

I can’t really comment as to how this compares to other fantasy books, but I really appreciated the writing and enjoyed the narrative. I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys queer fantasy stories.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Evie and the Pack-Horse Librarians – Laurel Beckley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I found this to be a really sweet novella. I don’t normally read fantasy books but had heard good things about this one so thought I would give it a try and I’m really glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and would have loved the story to have gone on for longer.

When we meet Evie she is experiencing her worst nightmare – the loss of her role as an assistant editor at a prestigious publisher due to underhanded tactics by her soon to be ex-girlfriend. Evie is banished to the mountains to join the librarians guild and become a member of the pack-horse librarians, with only her books and her cats to keep her company.

I found the world building to be done really well and found myself enjoying imagining the world Evie was experiencing, even though it is somewhat bleak. The romance in the book is meaningful and sweet, but very quick. It isn’t the focus of the book at all and that isn’t a bad thing. I loved how this book encounters many different types of characters and for the most part they all seem accepting of each other. I’ve read quite a few heavy books recently and this made for a really pleasant read for me because of this.

Evie is described as a “timid city mouse” and this is an accurate depiction of her at the start of the story. I liked her journey to a more confident character and would have enjoyed a little bit more of this to delay the ending of the book. I also thought it was a shame we didn’t get to experience more of Evie’s own magic on the page. I would have liked to have spent more time with the other librarians too.

The length of the book naturally means it’s a quick read and I would recommend to anyone looking for a sweet, inclusive book with some fantasy overtones. It’s also a great read if like myself you wouldn’t normally read fantasy.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.