Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A self-published book
Calico Thunder Rides Again, by T. A. Hernandez
Self-published books often get a bad rep. This one is well written, well edited, and beautifully designed.
Set in the Prohibition era, it's the story of a man trying to save his circus, which is deeply in debt to the mob. But this is a different, magical earth: the circus includes unicorns, griffins, and an aging dragon named Calico Thunder. One of the mob enforcers is a well-dressed ogre named Clarence. And Prohibition includes not only alcohol and drugs, but also certain types of magic.
Jake, the circus owner, retired from dragon riding after an injury. He's in love with Grace, the dragon's trainer (my favorite character). And saving the circus isn't just for the performers' sake: the mob has a sinister purpose in trying to wrest it away from Jake.
I do feel like the book ended just a smidge too early: I would have liked a glimpse of the characters' futures after the tumultuous events at the end. But I love the way the book takes the magic of the circus, which already feels like its own world, and adds a whole other dimension of magic to it.