Cover Image: The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry

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I found myself struggling to get through this one. I loved this book in the beginning it was a Victorianesque story with magic. However, the pacing was super slow and it took forever for anything to happen. Maybe I just expected it to move at a faster pace because of how it is described but I think there was more about them eating than action.

I am a character-driven reader so I have to be able to at least tolerate the characters. Delly our main character evolution is like a rollercoaster. Every time I started to like her she would do something that made me just not be able to stand her again. Winn is wonderful but there comes a point where I just wanted to shake her and say open your eyes. Then you have Abstentia Dok who in the beginning I never would have thought I would like her and at some point (around 70%) I realized she was the only one that I really liked.

The story isn’t bad it just did not jive with me. If you like slow-paced stories I say go for it.
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'The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry' by C.M. Waggoner is an ebook about a petty con artist who gets wrapped up in a mystery.

Dellaria Wells has lost her mother and also can't seem to pay the rent, but she is a fire witch, so she takes a job protecting a wealthy client.  It turns out that someone is definitely trying to kill the client.

There is humor, intrigue and romance.  I felt like the novel foundered in the middle third as the story changed and details kept getting repeated.  I did like it overall and I'm glad I read it.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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I honestly don't have words for how much I enjoyed this - I loved the author's first book, set in the same world as this one, and Ruthless was easily as brilliant. I laughed so much, but the comedic elements are well-balanced by deep emotion and thorny issues like poverty and addiction. But one of my favorite things has to have been the different language styles of different characters - I don't know whether to call them dialects, maybe? But entirely different ways of phasing things, different slang - ix was seriously impressive.

No question, one of my favorite reads of the year.
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Historical fantasy usually isn't my thing, but mix it with magic and I'm suddenly much more game! I love that Dellaria is a female bodyguard. It really turned that sterotype on its head. She is a strong female character, and I really appreciated seeing that. Even in the face of a little romance. I highly recommend this for historical romance fans that want a little extra in their stories.
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I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Unnatural Magic, but, really, it's quite good. It was so cool to finish Bk 1, & know there was another one ready to be downloaded & read!

1) Bk 1 was told from the point of view of 3 different characters, this book, just 1. It wasn't quite as intriguing, somehow. Undoubtably that was partly because the main character is not a very admirable person. She knows it! Her life has always been entirely about survival, not ethics. And she's a very good survivor. It's a major theme of the book that she's no longer satisfied with wallowing in it all, & she's hankering to become a better person, but doesn't really have faith that she can do it.

2) Still, she's snarky, and this book is even funnier than the 1st. Funny, unexpected situations & characters, & the running internal commentary of our heroine, Delly. A love of words, many of them made up. (Absentia.
Who would want to name their kid after the state of being absent?! ) I'm curious where she'll go with this series longterm; this book features the daughter of our 2 lovers from book one. Wynn, being part troll, has that whole "trolls LIKE to take care of other people" thing going for her.

3) Strangely enuf, there's not a whole lot of World Building going on in these books, & I didn't even mind! It's as if this (Delly's world) is just the world we all live in now, & you're just supposed to be savvy--or you're going to have to get caught up on your own. You know, like in real life, only they dont have google. It has that immediacy & grittiness of urban fantasy in that way (though I had the impression that urban fantasy had to have vampires werewolves & such. None of those here yet, though there is a skeletal zombie mouse called Bouncer (small spoiler there).

4) I was for some reason surprised that this book was going to be a murder mystery, too. Not my favorite genre. Well, a genre within another --but that seems to be where fantasy is going these days anyway. I've been enjoying some Steam Punk/Urban-Fantasy/Fantasy lately;) Who knew! At any rate, CM Waggoner does murder mystery very well, in my humble opinion, and I look forward with anticipation to her next book.
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I greatly enjoyed the first installment in this world, Unnatural Magic, and was delighted to revisit it again.   I found this to be a fun and engaging read overall, just bit in long in places.
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I don't really read a lot of historical fantasy, but I found this charming! It's quirky and has a completely unique style that, admittedly, took a second to get used to, but once I did it was great. Very fun, enjoyable story, loved the relationship between Delly and Winn!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Ace for an eARC of this title.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry was not what I expected. It is a very unique story about magic, lies, adventures, cons, and so much more. I honestly really enjoyed the world that was built. It was a Victorian era type of location filled with magic users of all kinds and some fantasy races as well. I found the magic and world super interesting and really wanted to dive into this one.

Unfortunately, I really struggled with the writing style of this story. This is definitely not an objective problem. I sometimes struggle with the way certain books are written and this one just didn’t jive with me. The book was written with a lot of slang and in a very conversational way, which I can see so many people loving. If the writing style was different, I know I would have devoured this book, but I just found it really hard to read.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes magic, sapphic relationships, historical fiction, and a little bit of necromancy.
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2.5/5 stars

DNFed at about halfway through. The plot points I was interested in were wrapped up in the first 25% of the book. The rest of what I read was too slow paced an I wasn’t interested in the characters or the mystery. 

Thank you for providing a copy for review.
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Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review your titles.
I do appreciate it and continue to review books that I get the chance to read.
Thanks again!
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Last year I was delighted and surprised by Waggoner's Unnatural Magic because she managed to blend a murder mystery with a slow-burn romance, and just ... a surprising amount of emotional richness and sensibility into her characters, and make everything fit together very naturally. And I'm happy to report that she's managed the same feat in the Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry. I've seen narratives about down-and-out con artists trying to land a scheme to survive, but I've never *felt* one the way that I felt this one, as Waggoner introduced us to Dellaria and her plight: earn enough money to pay her overdue rent and avoid a "hard promise" (a curse that will lead to seeping pustules, "mostly on the face"), while also finding a way to rescue the drug-addicted mother who has rarely, if ever, come through for her. Dellaria may seem too good to be true, but she's also an opportunist, which is why the prospect of pursuing higher class Wynn as a marriage prospect seems like a good idea to get her the wealth and security she needs. Of course, things don't go quite to plan.

Though I can't go into detail without spoiling the plot, Waggoner excels at showing a wide range of ruthless women -- in good and bad ways. Dellaria and Wynn are sweet, and full of heart, and yet, not so much to the point of being saccharine. And Waggoner isn't afraid to twist the knife in exacting the consequences of prior actions.

Finally, Waggoner's "Buttons" is a uniquely odd character who, frankly, shouldn't work, but somehow does, and Buttons and his bonging will stay with me for a long time after. I really hope that we continue to see more set in this world -- not least because I want to see Onna and Loga again, even if it's just a cameo!
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Unnatural Magic was a solid read that was hard to pin down at times, then comes this authors second book and I enjoyed it JUST AS MUCH. Once you learn how to go with the flow, the book might end up surprising you in the best way possible. A novel which strives to tackle traditional fantasy in a fresh and unique way, C.M. Waggoner offers a cleverly transformative tale that explores love, ambition, and humor all rolled into one.

Amazing female leads, and two completely different adventures but it all comes together to make one amazing read.
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Dellaria Wells is the most fun protagonist I've read in a while. She and Wyn are a delight and Waggoner manages to create an entire crew that lives and breathes on the page.
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A little whimsical, slightly sweet, and somewhat odd, "The Ruthless Ladies Guide to Wizardry" is a lovely little tea cake of a book. 

Part historical fantasy and part romance with a hint of mystery and action, this new novel by C. M. Waggoner follows ex-drunk alley cat Dellaria Wells as she gets a proper job guarding a wealthy well-to-do lady from being murdered before her wedding day.

A cast of peculiar characters and a quirky half-humorous narration style that’s half British slang and half total tomfoolery sets a particular tone for the book that many will love. Meanwhile, with women taking their rightful places as all the main characters in a world where queer courtship is ordinary, the setting of "Ruthless Lady's Guide" is one many will be fond of slipping into. 

But the story seemed surface-level at best and hovered uncertainty between adult language and young adult tropes and themes. For all the exciting things taking place—steampunk zombie creatures, a magic drug ring with child mobsters, and homicidal wizards—the romance took the stage far too often...but didn't shine. An old-fashioned love story is all fine and dandy when it's interesting, but there was no conflict or tension involved, leaving readers doddling along after the doting pair waiting for the wedding bells. 

The plot of "Ruthless Lady's Guide" had so much potential but lacked the mystery and subtlety to make it really something. And although I loved to see a full cast of female characters, they could have had a lot more depth and intrigue. Instead, the most fleshed-out character of all may have been the re-incarnated skeleton of a mouse. And the most interesting bit of the book was the last, which ends up being just a tease and leaves no room for explanations of the wackier things that occurred or characters' motivations, returning instead, once again, to love. 

If you’re wondering why I haven’t talked about the magic yet, that’s because—for a book with wizardry in the title—this story had a sad amount of spell casting. The magic system is less of a focus and more of a background aspect, which is never fully explored or explained. Talk about false advertising. A "Girl’s Guide to Getting a Rich Wife" may have been more suitable.

A sweet puffed pastry empty of cream, I’d love to have heard the voice of Delly tell a story that had more substance. I rated "The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry" 2.5 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ace Books for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book left me feeling conflicted. 
On one hand, I loved the characters and the story. I greatly enjoyed following on Delia and Winn's journey each new piece of the puzzle was revealed. Some of the characters were very complex and interesting. 

On the other hand, I felt that there were several drawbacks that will keep me from purchasing the book for my library. There are several features of the world that just... aren't explained. I'm uncertain if this is because there's meant to be a glossary added later, or if the writer feels that they should be obvious. Clanholding for example is something that is very important within the world, but not something that is made clear. The book starts off slow and it takes some time before you get into the action. At first Delia sounds more whiney than likeable, although that does shift by the third chapter, you just have to get there. There's also the matter of the magic system. Although there is a difference between info dumping and weaving details into the story, I wish that I could have had more of an explanation about things, given how important certain details are to events. 

Although I don't plan to purchase this for my library, I do intend to keep an eye on the author and hope that they continue to improve. I'm intrigued by this world and the characters and hope to get to learn more about them in time.
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This book was a charming delight. From the vocabulary (“ensatisficsting”, “gutter witch”) to the sweet love story, to the brisk plot, this novel has a lot to offer fans of Theodora Goss.
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While filled with interesting magic and adventure, this story just did not pull me in. I enjoyed that there was a main character was LGBTQ, however she did not develop as well as I hoped. Overall, while a good read, it could have been better. Many of the characters were flatter than I liked, and the overall storyline was predictable.
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“The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry” follows Delly, a fire witch and petty criminal looking for the quickest way to get out of the crime life. She finds an advertisement searching for a group of women to act as bodyguards for a princess. Delly thinks this could be a career opportunity and a chance to fund drug rehab for her mother. 

This premise sounds exciting, and yay, girl power, but this one fell flat for me. It was unfortunate to discover that the big event happens in the first act, and then we are carried off on another adventure. I enjoyed the beginning of the novel and read through the chapters with ease, but once the first mystery is solved, it felt like it took forever to get to a disappointing end. 

I believe that this book could have done with quite a few more chapter breaks. The chapters were long, and I feel like more separation would have made the action and adventure more exciting. 

I enjoyed the language, and I thought C.M. Waggoner did a great job incorporating Victorian slang and syntax. Unfortunately, I felt that there was just far too much dialogue that led nowhere with sprinklings of action. There came to be a point where I would jump through paragraphs to get to the meat of the story. 

Finally, something I loved was the sapphic relationship not being a plot motivator, but rather just a story with a sapphic relationship. There were no hoops they had to jump through or discomfort among other members of the cast. It was nice to see them merely existing in this world. Now I wish we got more out of their relationship. There was some flirting and an almost steamy moment, and then it is squashed. I also feel like Delly drops a massive bomb at the end, and Winn simply forgives it. In any relationship, what Delly said needed to be met with some attempt at an apology. 

I loved the premise, and I thought that the language was well done. It left me wanting more and feeling deflated because it had such an incredible opportunity to be something different. Thank you, C.M. Waggoner, Berkeley Publishing, and NetGalley, for the ARC.
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The plot summary sounded really cool. A bunch of magical ladies protecting a young woman from being assassinated? Heck yeah, sign me up!

The start of the novel was pretty strong. I liked Delly Wells, the poor fire witch who seemed to put her foot in her mouth more oft than not. She's stumbled along life, trying to get by as best she can. When we see her, she's making a "hard promise" with her landlady to where she'll get horrible pustules on her face if she doesn't pay her rent on time. She happens to find her way to answering an advertisement about protecting a rich young woman until her wedding occurs and Delly thinks this is the start of her making it big--at least big enough where she won't get the pustules on her face.

At the beginning, it sort of reminded me of a "lower class" Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger and I had hopes for it. However, as the novel progressed, the enthusiasm waned. The plot arc mentioned in the summary occurred and then it started to be some sort of weird revenge plot that involved a lot of dialogue, a re-animated dead mouse, making drugs called "red drip," and the occasional friction between Delly and her love interest, Winn.

I wanted to like it, but it sort of dragged along. I do think that the author did some interesting worldbuilding and I'd definitely read another book by them.
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I listed this title in LA County Library's February Staff Picks list: https://lacountylibrary.org/booklist-details/757/
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