Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, Fake Out & Trick Play by Eden Finley, Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie, and The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer


Guess who is SUPER behind on reviewing? If you guessed me, congrats, you get a cookie! I have no idea how people are keeping up with work, blogging, and everything else during quarantine/social distancing, quite frankly, and boy howdy has it hit me hard. Therefore, we’re keeping things casual today with some quick, super relaxed, and easier reviews. 

In the spirit of being kind to myself…. I’ve accepted that trying to do my full, lengthy reviews of every books I’ve read but not reviewed so far is just too much to ask right now. Maybe one of these days I’ll revisit these books and do them justice, but right now I need to get them done and stop worrying about them. 

Thus, with that out of the way, I present Book Bites – some nice, casual, li’l bite-size reviews of books I’ve read and want to talk about! 


42393392. sy475 Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Goodreads Book Depository | Amazon

Thank you to the publisher for this review copy!

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Shorefall is the second book in Bennett’s Founder’s Trilogy. It builds off the foundation that Foundryside set in place, often in innovative and surprising ways. He upped the stakes considerably and included some truly creative and engaging uses for scriving.

If you haven’t yet read Foundryside, scriving is a magic system that’s based on written rules for an object’s function. It’s like a magical version of computer programming! It’s genuinely super interesting, especially in the way you can interact with the different scrivings. By “tricking” them into realizing that some of the definitions they’ve been relying on aren’t what they thought, you can get them to act in ways that weren’t necessarily intended. 

Although I had some trouble feeling truly immersed in the setting, that didn’t matter too much since I LOVED all the characters. Foundryside provided a great starting point for their relationships, and Shorefall ran with with. Without spoiling anything… I think my favorite bit was how magic itself helped to deepen the bonds between them. 

The overall conflict was excellent, too. Although the Big Bad is both very big and very bad, you sure do find yourself nodding along every now and then thinking… yeah, he has a point, tbh. He really does. But oh my god do we HAVE to resort to genocide to fix things? 

Anyway. Yeah, good book, highly recommended!

Goodreads Summary

The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it’s not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won’t tolerate competition, and they’re willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.

But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that’s not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees – especially Sancia.

Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself – before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.

39298105. sy475 Fake Out & Trick Play by Eden Finley

Goodreads | Amazon

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Secretly, beneath my love of spec fic… I am a sucker for romance. Especially queer romance. It’s. So good. I love it? It’s so much fun watching people realize that oh no actually I lied I am SO GAY. 

These are the first two books in Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series. Which, as you might expect, is all about fake dating. Which, like, I’m here for it. It’s so much fun. It’s one of those tropes that is just pure sugary snack, which I think we all need a little more of these days. 

Imma just review these as tropes ‘n squee lists, because that seems way easier. 

Fake Out

  • MC literally pretends to be gay for YEARS after lying about it to break up with high school girlfriend omg
  • AWESOME SUPPORTIVE PARENTS – “ummm he’s just a friend right because you know we love Damon right
  • everyone is gonna think this is fake so we’d better kiss to convince them it’s real
  • oh no i think i like kissing him but this is fake so that can’t be right???
  • literally everyone knew he was lying but then oh heck HE’S BI turns out the truth was there the whole time
  • ONE. BED.
  • “excuse u sir that is some bi erasure shit”

Trick Play

  • “I am spoiled and super rich but also deeply flawed and vulnerable underneath”
  • superstar football dude with humble background and abusive family im sobbing
  • it’s fine we’re just having a little sex no big deal this doesn’t mean anything
  • oh god it means something but we have to pretend it doesn’t
  • photoshoot on the beach. minimal clothing. because the sports news demands it, yes, that is the only reason why
  • SNARKY “I’m in a band” BROTHER I love him

If you need a light and fluffy quarantine read, these are for you. They go great with margaritas on a Friday night. 

Goodreads Summary – Fake Out


The reason I rarely go home is three simple words: I’m a liar.

When the pressure to marry my childhood sweetheart became too much, I told her I was gay and then fled to New York like my ass was on fire.

Now, five years later and after a drunken encounter, I find myself invited to her wedding. And I have to bring my boyfriend—the boyfriend who doesn’t exist because I’m straight.

At least, I think I am. Meeting the guy I’m bribing to be my boyfriend for the weekend makes me question everything about myself.


When my sister asks me to pretend to be some straight guy’s boyfriend, my automatic response is to say no. It’s because of guys like him people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m gay.

But Maddox has something I need.

After an injury that cost me my baseball career, I’m trying to leave my playing days behind and focus on being the best sports agent I can be. Forty-eight hours with my sister’s best friend in exchange for a meeting with a possible client. I can do this.

I just wish he wasn’t so hot. Or that he didn’t kiss like he means it.

Wait … why is the straight guy kissing me?

42302727. sy475 Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie

Goodreads Book Depository | Amazon

Thank you to the publisher for this review copy!

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

First of all the ending killed me. I was dead. I could not handle it? To be clear it was a GREAT ending and I desperately need the next book, but oh my god. 

My Star Wars fan friends have described this as essentially FinnPoe fanfic in long form, and man, I think I need to read some FinnPoe fanfic if this is what that has to offer. There was so much pining! So much angst! 

The plot was also good, but frankly I spent the whole time being distracted by how much I loved all three of the main characters. They’re so precious and they just deserve happiness. 

It’s all very actiony with lots of space battles, spaceships, seeeecret rebel plots, and essentially all the things that people love in Star Wars. If you really like Star Wars, this is probably a great book to pick up. 

Here’s a trope list, because much like Fake Boyfriend… tropes are the best way to describe this book. 

  • Friends to lovers!
  • Loveable con artist girl who tries to screw over the main characters but then they discover that actually they really platonically care about each other and now she’s FAMILY
  • casually sleeping in the same bed while PINING
  • Fake dating!
  • omg no we can’t we have so many obligations we can’t get involved *gets involved*
  • loyalty and BETRAYAL
  • water fight and then oh no I slipped and he’s on top of me oh no

Goodreads Summary

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?

45046558The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

Goodreads Book Depository | Amazon

Thank you to the publisher for this review copy!

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐

I was torn on this one. There were a lot of great ideas and ideas that I loved, but I had two main issues with it. First, the pacing was rough. For the first half of the book, there’s very little magic, explanation, or plot movement. The second half was much better, but it made for a bit of a slog at the start. Second, the although the ending wasn’t bad, it did feel fairly contrived. Yes, it wrapped up the story, but it wasn’t really satisfying. 

Fortunately, though, the bits I liked carried the story very well! I’m a huge fan of historical fantasy, and this one had that in spades. Similarly, it’s a bunch of fun to see a fantasy novel that focuses not only on real magic, but also stage magic. In The Glass Magician, there are three main social classes: Solitaires, who are unmagical, Traders, who are able to “trade” to an animal shape, and Sylvestri, who work magic with nature. Stage magic is the realm of Solitaires, and Thalia is an accomplished stage magician herself. 

She and her partner are implicated in the murder of a rival stage magician, and Thalia must not only work to clear their names, but also to learn to control her newly revealed Trader nature. 

The character interactions were entertaining to watch, although the romantic subplot fell a little flat for me. The best part of this book was definitely working to unravel the murder mystery and watching Thalia work to control her magic. 

Goodreads Summary

A gilded menagerie rules a Gilded Age: Bears and Bulls are not only real, but dominate humanity in The Glass Magician, an amazing historical fantasy by Caroline Stevermer

What if you could turn into the animal of your heart anytime you want?

With such power, you’d enter the cream of New York society, guaranteed a rich life among the Vanderbilts and Astors, movers and shakers who all have the magical talent and own the nation on the cusp of a new century.
You could. If you were a Trader.

Pity you’re not.

Thalia is a Solitaire, one of the masses who don’t have the animalistic magic. But that is not to say that she doesn’t have talent of another kind—she is a rising stage magician who uses her very human skills to dazzle audiences with amazing feats of prestidigitation. Until one night when a trick goes horribly awry…and Thalia makes a discovery that changes her entire world. And sets her on a path that could bring her riches.

Or kill her.


7 thoughts on “Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, Fake Out & Trick Play by Eden Finley, Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie, and The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

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