Our mini fiction book reviews for August include genres such as historical fantasy, literary fiction, sci-fi romance, retellings, and YA romantic fantasy.

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a commission if you choose to buy through our links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure for more information.


To share more book recommendations and reviews, we’ve decided to start writing mini-reviews for the books we’re reading. The same goes for film and television. We’ll still write and share standalone reviews, but these monthly features allow us to write reviews and share recommendations we usually wouldn’t have the time to do! We hope you’ll find this Silver Petticoat feature useful.

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To read the fiction book reviews, you can scroll down the page, read them all, or click on the title that interests you.

The Best of All Possible Worlds (Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Space Opera)

Bronte’s Mistress (Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Victorian)

Gods of Jade and Shadow (Historical Fantasy, Mythology, Magical Realism, Romance, the 1920s)

House of Salt and Sorrows (Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Gothic, Young Adult)

Kind of A Big Deal (Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy, Romance)

Migrations (Science Fiction, Dystopia, Literary Fiction, Environment)

Whisper (Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance)


August Fiction Book Reviews


Fiction Book Review One

The Best of All Possible Worlds

The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Cover: August Fiction Book Reviews
Amazon.com

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Space Opera

Official Synopsis:

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life, but doing so may mean changing their culture forever.

Working together to save this vanishing race, a man and a woman from two clashing societies will uncover ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. And as their mission hangs in the balance, the unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

Review (By Autumn):

The Best of All Possible Worlds is a thoughtful adult science fiction novel that is part Star Trek with a dash of Jane Austen. In the story, a Vulcan like alien race’s homeland is destroyed. As refugees, mostly only the Sadiri men are left, and they must survive amongst another very different alien society full of various cultures and alien races. Naturally, the two societies must work together. Meanwhile, Grace Delarua enters as a scientist to help the Sadiri race (and the refugee leader Dllenahkh) on a mission.

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Of course, she is much more passionate than the reserved Spock like Dllenahkh. But they still form a lovely friendship that builds into something quite romantic and beautiful. Plus, the telepathic Sadiri communication is pretty cool.

Nevertheless, I don’t love everything about this book. Just the idea of the Sadiri men looking to preserve their “pure” race by finding women close to their culture is uncomfortable. Furthermore, sometimes the novel is a little too slow.

Still, overall, if you like quiet, introspective Sci-Fi novels with a touch of romance and well-developed alien societies, I highly recommend you check out Karen Lord’s well written (and diverse) sci-fi novel.

Adaptation Recommendation: A diverse (and romantic) space opera is just what we need on TV these days. And, because the middle chapters work as individual stories, The Best of All Possible Worlds is perfect for a ten-episode limited series. I would love to see this world explored on the small screen.

OVERALL RATING

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful

friendship.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Fiction Book Review Two

Brontë’s Mistress

Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Victorian

Bronte's Mistress Book Cover
Amazon.com

Official Synopsis:

This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son’s innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.

Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

Review (By Amber):

Finola Austin’s debut novel, Brontë’s Mistress, is a compelling historical fiction book I couldn’t put down. Beautifully written and fantastically researched, Austin captivates from start to finish.

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The excellent atmospheric novel feels authentic to the Brontë siblings and provides new insights to the mysterious family and the controversial Mrs. Lydia Robinson. What did happen with Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson? Should she be as vilified as she was? The book explores the historical mystery of what happened from Mrs. Robinson’s perspective.

Overall, it’s a feminist exploration of what it meant to live as a woman in the 19th century. What’s most intriguing is that Austin’s novel gives a voice to the countless women in history who never had one. And that, above all, makes Brontë’s Mistress worth reading. Lovers of good historical fiction and fans of the Brontë sisters should give this book a try.

Adaptation Recommendation: Brontë’s Mistress would make an excellent feature film starring a talented actress. It’s the type of story that with the right cast and crew could become award-worthy.

Content Note: While more literary in style, a couple of explicit scenes are in the novel as Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson have an affair.

OVERALL RATING

“You had me at hello.”

ROMANCE RATING

(This is a good thing for the intentions of the novel)

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”

Fiction Book Review Three

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow Book Cover: August Fiction Book Reviews
Amazon.com

Genres: Historical Fantasy, Mythology, Magical Realism, Romance, 1920s

Official Synopsis:

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Review (By Autumn):

Inspired by Mexican folklore, Gods of Jade and Shadow follows Casiopea Tun, a passionate character influenced by Jane Eyre and Cinderella. In this dark fairy tale, her own family treats her like a servant, particularly by her mean grandfather and abusive cousin Martin. While continually cleaning and doing their bidding, she dreams of escaping her small Mexican town to the big cities.

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Set in the 1920s, she’s heard tales about the flappers, but she’s far away from that world. Until one day, she discovers a large chest in her grandfather’s room. When she opens it, the Mayan god of the underworld is freed, and she must help restore him as leader to his kingdom. Together, they go on a quest to save the world from his bloodthirsty brother, who has taken the throne as the new Lord of Xibalba.

Along the way, as the immortal Hun-Kame becomes more human, Casiopea falls in love with him. But can they find a way to be together when he’s from the world of the dead? It’s a story full of magic and folklore with a sweeping love story and lyrical writing. Readers who enjoy mythology and literary romance will want to take this journey with Casiopea into 1920s’ Mexico City and beyond into the well-developed and fascinating Mayan underworld of Xibalba.

Adaptation Recommendation: Without giving away spoilers, does anyone else think the ending needs a TV show spinoff? I would be entirely on board and tuning in weekly.

Content Note: There’s a scene with strong language and also animal sacrifices.

OVERALL RATING

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Fiction Book Review Four

House of Salt and Sorrows

The House of Salt and Sorrows book cover: August Fiction Book Reviews
Amazon.com

Genres: Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Gothic, Young Adult

Official Synopsis:

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last–the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge–and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that her sister’s deaths were no accidents. The girls have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who–or what–are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family–before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.

Review (By Autumn):

This “12 Dancing Princesses” retelling is full of horror and paranormal romance. The House of Salt and Sorrows is also an edge of your seat murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. While the world-building could have been slightly more developed, the pace and cliffhangers make for a quick and satisfying read. I also loved the setting in this book. You can almost taste the salt of the sea.

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The second half of the book is better than the first half, as I could not put this one down by then. Plus, the romance is a sweet addition to a story about sisters, and you will root for Annaleigh to find happiness with her romantic interest even if he could have been more fleshed out. By the end, everything comes together in a horrifying and fulfilling way.

On a side note, I could not stand the father, and I still feel like the family needed to mourn their sisters more. Anyway, short rant aside, check this one out if you love mysteries, gothic romance, and fairy tale retellings. It’s a thrilling read, and I’m looking forward to more from Erin A. Craig.

Adaptation Recommendation: Last year, Deadline reported that House of Salt and Sorrows is coming to TV! I hope for more news soon. In the meantime, who to cast?  

Content Note: A few gruesome deaths and spooky scenes.

OVERALL RATING

“Hello, Gorgeous.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Fiction Book Review Five

Kind of A Big Deal

Kind of A Big Deal Book Cover: August Fiction Book Reviews
Amazon.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy, Romance

Official Synopsis:

From Shannon Hale, bestselling author of Austenland, comes Kind of a Big Deal: a hilarious, madcap story that will suck you in—literally.

There’s nothing worse than peaking in high school. Nobody knows that better than Josie Pie. She was kind of a big deal—she dropped out of high school to be a star! But the bigger you are, the harder you fall. And Josie fell. Hard. Ouch. Broadway dream: dead.

Meanwhile, her life keeps imploding. Best friend: distant. Boyfriend: busy. Mom: not playing with a full deck? Desperate to escape, Josie gets into reading. Literally. She reads a book and suddenly she’s inside it. And with each book, she’s a different character: a post-apocalyptic heroine, the lead in a YA rom-com, a 17th century wench in a corset.

It’s alarming. But also . . . kind of amazing?

It’s the perfect way to live out her fantasies. Book after book, Josie the failed star finds a new way to shine. But the longer she stays in a story, the harder it becomes to escape. Will Josie find a story so good that she just stays forever?

Review (by Autumn):

Shannon Hale’s latest novel sounds adorable! I mean, who doesn’t want to escape into the plots of your favorite books? Who doesn’t want to escape into fantasy worlds when your own life is crap?

Josie Pie (yes, there is an Anne of Green Gables reference) used to be a big deal at her high school. Her teacher even convinced Josie she would be a Broadway star as soon as she went to NYC. So much so, that she quits school and heads out to New York for her big break.

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Her teacher is AWFUL in so many ways, and Josie completely naïve. Of course, her huge Broadway career doesn’t happen instantaneously. And as a teenager in NYC who has no clue about reality, Josie has no way to support herself but become a nanny. So, she does (somehow with no experience) and ends up in Montana.

It’s there she meets a bookstore seller who convinces her to escape into her imagination. But what happens when she literally starts escaping into various novels? (Note: I did love the hilarious bodice ripper story and kind of wanted a whole book about that.) Meanwhile, there’s the high school boyfriend back home in Arizona she barely talks to anymore, and life just gets more confusing from there.

As a whole, the premise is excellent. However, this isn’t Hale’s best work. While sweet, the execution is stilted with dialogue that doesn’t read naturally. Also, the romance with the non-existent boyfriend doesn’t really work either because he has no characterization. Plus, I just couldn’t connect with Josie, who was frustratingly self-absorbed (though I get that was the point).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it when she jumped into stories, and I think this will be a fun read for young teens just graduating from middle-grade novels. Overall, this is a lovely story that merely needed more development. I still love Shannon Hale, and I am looking forward to her next book!

Adaptation Recommendation: Truthfully, I feel like Kind of a Big Deal would be better as a TV series. There’s more room for expansion (which it needs), the visuals of entering various book worlds could be hysterical if done right, and more time on the romance would fill out the story nicely. The writers could even create new book worlds. It would be so much fun!

Content Note: Nothing to see here.

OVERALL RATING

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce

me. Aren’t you?”

ROMANCE RATING

“Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Fiction Book Review Six

Migrations

Migrations Book Cover: August fiction book reviews
Amazon.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Literary Fiction, Environment

Official Synopsis:

For fans of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven, a novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds—and her own final chance for redemption.

Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and track their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his eccentric crew with promises that the birds will lead them to fish.

As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s dark history begins to unspool. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of unsent letters, and obsessed with pursuing the terns at any cost, Franny is full of secrets. When her quest threatens the safety of the entire crew, Franny must ask herself what she is really running toward—and running from.

Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is both an ode to our threatened world and a breathtaking page-turner about the lengths we will go for the people we love.

Review (by Autumn):

While Migrations is beautifully written (with perhaps too much cursing for my taste), it is also rather a depressive read. Honestly, I just didn’t enjoy reading this one though I see how many will like it because the writing and characterization are both good.

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In the story, almost all animals (except farm animals and pets) are extinct. Humanity’s selfishness and need to destroy have virtually eliminated creatures like birds from the world. Meanwhile, Franny Stone (posing as a scientist) somehow convinces a crew of fishermen to take her with them to track the last of the Arctic terns. In return, she will help them find some of the last fish in the ocean.

As they follow the terns on their last migration, the truth behind the wanderer, Franny Stone, slowly unravels like a mystery. What are her secrets? Why does she need to wander? What is her connection to the terns? The answers are revealed through non-linear flashbacks that tell a quiet love story about how she met her husband.

Overall, I appreciate Migrations, but I didn’t find it enjoyable. Indeed, the last third is more gripping than the first two-thirds that moved at a snail pace. Is the writing literary? Yes. However, this dystopian sci-fi about the environment won’t be for everyone. It’s not for readers looking to be uplifted in any way.

Adaptation Recommendation: Everything about Migrations screams indie arthouse film. Certainly, this could be beautiful with an excellent cinematographer and strong actress. For example, I can totally see Abbie Cornish in the main role.

Content Note: A lot of the F word and other strong language sprinkled throughout the novel. Additionally, there’s a graphic attempted rape scene and a disturbing accident.

OVERALL RATING

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful

friendship.”

ROMANCE RATING

“Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Fiction Book Review Seven

Whisper

Whisper Book Cover: August Fiction Book Reviews
Amazon.com

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance

Official Synopsis:

For two and a half years, Subject 684 — “Jane Doe” — has been locked underground in a secret government facility, enduring tests and torture. In that time, she hasn’t uttered a single word. Not even her real name.

Jane chooses to remain silent rather than risk losing control over the power within her. She alone knows what havoc her words can cause.

Then the authorities put her in the care of the mysterious Landon Ward, and Jane is surprised when he treats her like a person rather than a prisoner. Ward’s protective nature causes her resolve to crack in spite of her best efforts to resist. Just as Jane begins to trust him, though, a freak accident reveals the dangerous power she has concealed for years.

It also reveals that the government has been keeping secrets of its own. Now Jane’s ability is at the heart of a sinister plot for vengeance, and she has to decide whom she will trust … and whom she will help.

Well-known throughout her native Australia, Lynette Noni creates compelling stories that appeal to devoted fantasy fans and general-interest readers alike. This novel’s extended metaphor about finding — and controlling — one’s voice and power will resonate with teens attempting to do just that. The slow-simmering romance, richly imagined world and unexpected plot twists will hook readers from the very first page.

Review (by Autumn):

Sarah J. Maas describes Whisper as “compulsively readable.” There’s no better way to describe this Australian import. I seriously could not stop reading it. This book is Stranger Things meets X-Men meets one of my all-time favorites, La Femme Nikita (an underrated ’90s show if you’ve never heard of it).

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Overall, the main character is compelling, the writing clear and authentic, and the premise unique enough to stand on its own (I won’t spoil anything). Then there’s the romance. It has major Tris and Four vibes that will appeal to the Divergent fanbase. In short, Whisper is a fantastic YA novel that went under the radar. I love everything about this addicting fantasy/sci-fi series! Plus, the sequel (and the series ending) is already out!

OVERALL RATING

“Hello, Gorgeous.”

ROMANCE RATING

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

What novels from our mini fiction book reviews interest you? Have you read any of them? Let us know in the comments!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a commission if you choose to buy through our links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure for more information. The Silver Petticoat Review owners chose every item.

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August Fiction Book Reviews

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