Book Review Hands Like Secrets (The Seven Strands Book 1) @nevertherose #fantasy #book #review


Saeli has always been different: she is autistic, in a world that doesn’t have a word for people like her.

She attends the exclusive institute of Aschamon, learning to harness her inner qi and preparing to join the battle between her people and their enemies, the Crimson Cowls. But despite her years of work, her teachers still refuse to elevate her to Silver Mantle status and dedicate her to their god’s service.

When notorious Crimson Cowl Rafel Kailar breaks into her school, it is either cruel irony…or fate…that Saeli is there to confront him.

But Rafel is nothing like the Cowls she’s been taught to hate. He draws her in with his charm and reveals his ultimate ambition: to overthrow the gods of Verre and end a hundred years of war. And he needs Saeli’s help.

As she is pulled deeper into Rafel’s schemes, Saeli fears she’ll be forced to choose whose side she’s truly on: her people, who have never understood her…or Rafel, who’d gladly turn her world upside-down to kill the gods.

My review

Mariah Norris is a new author to me who I discovered via my recent membership of the Fantasy and Sci fi alliance – FSFalliance. I received a copy from the alliance and all opinions are my own and unbiased.

I really enjoyed this novel. It is book 1 in the Seven Strands. I liked the way that Hands Like Secrets portrayed different characters from the mainstream. It is an easy, captivating read which kept my attention throughout.

Saeli is autistic, her friend Fien is non binary and is referred to with the pronoun them.

The story takes place in a magical, academic setting. In the early chapters, we are quickly introduced to the magic system which uses Qi, martial arts, and fluid dance like movements. I loved this! There is a hint of romance too… with Saeli’s growing attraction to Rafel, suggesting the potential for an enemy’s to lovers trope romance…. but… is Rafel attracted to her? Or is he just using her? There is also a love triangle potential… but no more spoilers…

Saeli has been waiting for so long to become a silver mantle when her life turns upside down. She is thrust into extraordinary circumstances and begins to wonder who the Crimson Cowls are… Are they wicked, murderous foes as she has always been told? Or are they at the mercy of the gods?

She is attracted to Rafel, and these parts of the novel are written so well, as she tries to handle and control her growing attraction! Saeli has to make some difficult decisions – will she trust the Cowls, in particular Rafel? Or stick with her old friends, the mantles? Her old friend Yan and Fien’s characters are both written so well. They obviously care for her, making her uncertain what path to take. There are references to war in this novel too, making it a thoughtful read which I appreciate.

This is a fast paced, absorbing LGBTQ+ read which I can thoroughly recommend.

My rating 5 stars.

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A – M of My Book Reviews.


My I Love Books A-Z of my Book Reviews on my blog. While I was up in Edinburgh my  wise owl of a brother suggested that it would be a good idea to have an awesome A – Z list.  Yes this is a terrific idea, but it’s taken me ages to compile! Thanks Donald!!! Siblings huh! Only kidding, I appreciate your input. To date I’ve done 125 reviews, (I’m losing count,) if you include my Goodreads reviews too. Well, I never, somehow I didn’t realise that I’d written that many. Maybe I have a twin who has written reviews too?  Gosh, she’s been busy. I  feel quite faint. My twin is hyper, or maybe she has a special magic wand to conjure up reviews. Pass me the smelling salts. I should have done an A-Z right at the beginning, that twin of mine is hyperactive, but she isn’t very organised! Ack.

So my wise old owl tip for new bloggers is don’t delay, do an A-Z of your reviews right at the beginning, it saves you a lot of time and hassle in the long run…..

Do to the ever-growing number of reviews…. I have now split the list into two sections authors surnames: A – M, which you’ll find in this blog post, and an N-Z.

The N- Z List can now be found here: Reviews N – Z

Some of the reviews featured below I wrote a long time ago when this blogging/reviewing lark was new to me and some I’ve written not too long ago. There are a range of genres to choose from, broadly ranging from YA, to Historical Fiction, Crime, Asian Literature, Paranormal, Magic, Literary Fiction, and Science Fiction.

The list includes my rating, from 3 to 5 stars –  please bear in mind that I don’t read and rate books that I don’t enjoy – Life is too short for that!  So please don’t bombard me with requests to do reviews. I just tend to choose what I want to read, I’m a bit of a fussy old owl that way. Unless you’re willing to pay me a ton of money then I would be more than happy to oblige! As well as this I’ve added type of genre, star rating, etc…

At the end of the list there are a few special interest books too.

Also I’m on Goodreads. There you will find books that I’ve rated/reviewed some of which do not feature  on this blog, yet, so do take a look at my Goodreads account too:

Please do let me know if any of the links don’t work, …..

My Reviews On Kyrosmagica:

Annette Rochelle Aben. A Haiku Perspective. 4.5 stars. Genre: Poetry

Dan Alatorre. The Box Under The Bed Anthology. Genre: Horror/Scary. 4 stars.

Dan Alatorre. Rogue Elements Book 2 The Gamma Sequence Genre: Medical Thriller. 5 stars. :

Dan Alatorre. Dark Visions Anthology. 5 stars. Genre: Horror/Ghost stories.

Isabel Allende. Daughter of Fortune. 4.5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction.

Richard. M Ankers. The Eternals. 4 stars. Genre: Romance, Adventure, Fiction.

Jay Asher. Thirteen Reasons Why. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Fiction.

Sarah Ayoub. The Yearbook Commitee. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance. The Yearbook Committee

Judith Barrow. Living In The Shadows. 4 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance.

Alex Bell. Frozen Charlotte. 4.5 stars. Genre: Horror, YA, Paranormal. Read in the #redeyereadalong by Stripes Publishing in October 2015:

Ritu Bhathal. Poetic Rituals. 4 stars. Genre: Poetry.

Ritu Bhathal. Marriage Unarranged. 5 stars. Genre: Romance, Cultural.

Tom Becker. Dark Room. 4.5 stars. Genre: Horror, YA. Read in the #redeyereadalong by Stripes Publishing in October 2015:

Robin Benway. Emmy & Oliver. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance.

Sacha Black. 13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains. 5 stars. Genre: Writing Resource.

Sacha De Black. Keepers. 4.5 stars. Genre: YA, Fantasy.

Martha Brockenbrough. The Game of Love and Death. 4.5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction. YA. Fantasy. Romance.

Jessie Burton. The Miniaturist. 4 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction.

Jackie Carreira. Sleeping Through War. 5 stars. Genre: Literary FictionL

Jackie Carreira. The Seventh Train. 5 stars. Genre: Literary Fiction.

Gail Carriger. Soulless. 4 stars. Genre: Fantasy, steampunk, historical fiction, Werewolf, Vampire, Mystery.

Lizzie Chantree. Ninja School Mum. 4 stars. Genre: Romance, Chick Lit.

Lizzie Chantree. If You Love Me I’m Yours. 4.5 stars. Genre: Romance. Chick Lit.

Lizzie Chantre. Networking For Writers. 5 stars. Genre: Non fiction, Networking, Marketing

Lizzie Chantree. Ssh. It’s our secret. 5 stars. Genre: Romance

Lizzie Chantree. Little Ice Cream Shop by The Sea. Genre: Romance.

Colleen Chesebro. The Heart Stone Chronicles. The Swamp Fairy. 5 stars. Genre: Magical, Fairies, Adventure, YA, Middle Grade.

Colleen Chesebro: Fairies, Myths and Magic: A Summer Celebration: 5 stars. Genre: Magical., Fairies, Myths, short stories, poetry:

Simon Cheshire. Flesh and Blood. 3.75 stars. Genre: YA, Horror. Read in the #redeyereadalong by Stripes Publishing in October 2015.

Simon P. Clark. Not Yet Dark. 5 stars: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal.

Cat Clarke. The Lost and The Found. 5 stars. Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery.

Mari Collier. Earthbound. 5 stars. Genre: Scifi, Western.

Jim Crace. Harvest. 4 stars. Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction.

James J Cudney. Academic Curveball. 4 stars. Genre: Murder Mystery

James J Cudney: Watching Glass Shatter. 5 stars. Genre: Mystery, Drama, Family.  (Perceptions of Glass #1) #Book #Review #Mystery #Fiction:

James Cudney Didi Oviatt: Weathering Old Souls. 5 stars. Genre: Metaphysical, Mystery.

James J Cudney: Father Figure. 5 stars. Genre: Family, Drama

Graeme Cumming. Ravens Gathering. 4 stars. Genre: Thriller, Mystery.

Richard Dee. Andorra Pett and The Ooort Cloud Cafe. 5 stars Genre: Sci Fi

Richard Dee. The Lost Princess #sci-fi #novella #prequel 5 stars.  Genre: Sci-Fi:

Richard Dee. The Sensaurum and The Lexis. 5 stars. Genre: Steampunk.

Richard Dee. The Sky’m #fantasy Genre: Fantasy 5 stars

Richard Dee. The hitman and The Thief. Genre: Sci Fi Adventure Murder 5 stars

Richard Dee. We Are Saul. Genre: Scifi 5 stars.

Jane Dougherty. Abomination. 4 stars: Genre: Post-Apocalyptic YA.

Camilla Downs. Words of Alchemy. 5 stars. Genre: Poetry

Kat Ellis. Blackfin Sky. 3.75 stars. Genre: YA, Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal.

Tan Twan Eng. The Gift Of Rain. 5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction/Asian Literature.

Anne Frank. The Diary of A Young Girl. 4 stars. Genre: Non-Fiction, History, WW2, Holocaust, Autobiography.

Robert Galbraith, J.K. RowlingThe Cuckoo’s Calling. Cormoran Strike #1.   4 stars. Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Crime.

Sally Green. Half Bad. 3.75 stars. Genre: Fantasy, YA, Paranormal, Witches.

Eric Halpenny. Conflict. 4.5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction. Short Story. WW1:

Jenny Han. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. 5 Stars. Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance.

Pauline C Harris. Puppet. 3 stars. Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling.

Matt Haig. Echo Boy. The latter part of this review contains spoilersBE WARNED!!!! 4.75 stars. Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia.

Ruth Hatfield. The Book of Storms Trilogy, Book 1: The Book of Storms. 4 stars. Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade.

Ruth Hatfield. The Book of Storms Trilogy, Book 2: The Colour of Darkness. Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade.

Ruth Hatfield. The Book of Storms Trilogy, Book 3: The Book of Shadows: Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade.

Rachel Hawkins. Rebel Belle. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance.

Emma Healey. Elizabeth is Missing. 4 stars. Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Memory Loss, Aging:

Ronovan Hester. P. S. Bartlett. Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling. 4.5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction, Pirate.

Joe Hill. Horns. 4.5 stars. Genre: Horror, Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller.

Linda G. Hill 4 stars. Genre: Paranormal Romance

Colleen Hoover. Maybe Someday. 4.5 stars. Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary.

Anthony Horowitz. The House of Silk. A Sherlock Holmes Novel. 4.5 stars. Genre: Mystery, Crime, Fiction, Detective.

Katie Hutton The Gypsy Bride. 5 stars. Genre: Historical Romance.

Kazuo Ishiguro. The Buried Giant. 4 stars. Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction.

Jonas Jonasson. The Hundred Year Old Man That Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared. 5 Stars. Genre: Fiction, Humour, Contemporary, Scandinavian Literature.

Helen Jones. Oak and Mist, Book 1 in The Ambeth Chronicles. 4 stars. Genre: Fantasy, YA.

Maureen Johnson. The Name of The Star. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Mystery, Paranormal.

Hiromi Kawakami. Strange Weather in Toyko. 5 stars. Genre: Asian, Japanese Literature.

Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner. These Broken Stars. 4 stars. Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance.

Stephen King. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. 4.5 stars. Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, etc…

Stephen King. Revival. 4 stars. Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery.

Mary Kubica. A Good Girl. 3.75 stars. Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller.

Jay Kristoff. Nevernight. 5 stars. Genre: Fantasy, YA

Jay Kristoff. Godsgrave. 5 stars. Genre: Fantasy, YA (but recommend older readers due to the sexual and violence content.) New Adult.

Vanessa LaFaye. Summertime. 5 stars. Genre : Historical Fiction.

Geoff LePard. Dead Flies And Sherry Trifle. Genre: Humour, Coming of Age Story.

E Lockhart. We were Liars.  4.5 stars. Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery.

Tahereh Mafi. Shatter Me. 3.75 stars. Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia.

Graham Marks. Bad Bones. 3 stars. Genre: YA, Horror.Read in the #redeyereadalong by Stripes Publishing October 2015.

Marcia Meara. Swamp Ghosts. 4 stars. Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller.

William Meikle. The Exiled. 4 stars. Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery.

Madeline Miller. The Song Of Achilles. 5 stars. Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology.

Eimear McBride. A Girl is A Half Formed Thing.  3 stars. Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Irish Literature.

Charli Mills, Sarah Brentyn and others.  4.5 stars. Genre: Flash Fiction Anthology. The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 (Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology:

David Mitchell. The Bone Clocks. 4.5 stars. Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction. Literary Fiction.

Lou Morgan. Sleepless. 4 stars. Read in the #redeyereadalong by Stripes Publishing October 2015. Genre: YA, Horror.

Jojo Moyes. Me Before You. 4.5 Stars. Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary/Chick Lit:

Hope you find this long list useful.

My Goodreads:

Bye for now, I’m chilling out, feeling on top of the world!! Snooze time…..


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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