Book Review | The Delinquent Crown

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Delinquent Crown (Olexia Legends #1)

Purchase Link: Amazon

Author: Sydney Faith

Format: eBook (from author)

Pages: 263

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Family

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from the author, Sydney Faith, in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Olexia is a wild and dangerous world filled with magic.

Miri and Nick find Olexia by chance but choose their fate when they step through the portal. A shard of glass and a hastily-written letter from their mother are all they have to solve their puzzling past.

In Olexia Miri and Nick find danger and unlikely allies, and with their help, they learn to wield their newfound powers and find out the truth about Olexia’s buried secrets.

When the ruthless Council leader learns the siblings harbor a powerful artifact, he sends his bloodthirsty LaKaio soldiers to hunt them down at any cost.

With time running out and secrets about their past being revealed around every corner, Miri and Nick must decide if they’re going to hide away or rise up against the sinister leaders of Olexia.

Thank you to Sydney Faith for giving me a copy of her book to review.

Miri and Nick are siblings living somewhat normal lives on Earth. I say somewhat because Miri, experiences painful episodes that the doctors diagnosed as epilepsy. But her episodes are more than just a medical condition. When they find out about a new magical world called Olexia everything strange about their lives makes so much more sense.

Once these siblings are in Olexia the adventure never ends as Miri and Nick learn about this world full of magic, a different language and way of life.

  • This is the first book of the series and already I am immersed in this world of Olexia. When Miri and Nick steps through portal it reminds me of Narnia, where everything is just so different from Earth. In Olexia they know about “Earth” and call it Terra. But the world building is great, there are different types of people with their owl languages and customs. Also I feel like this book only scratched the surface of Olexia and there is more to learn.
  • There are some strong side characters like Kayta and Siymin who stumbles into Nick and Miri right away. I like Kayta and her attitude, she’s feisty. Siymin is calm, clever and smart. Siymin and Miri’s relationship grows throughout the story and there is a hint of a romance coming between them but I’m sure that will be explored more as the series goes on.
  • The magic system was explained really well too. Not only Miri and Nick both have their own unique powers. Where Miri thought it was a hindrance on Earth, her powers to see the future in Olexia is super useful as well as Nick’s power as a jumper. And I like that they take the time to learn their craft with Tuko also. Being new to this world and magic, it was nice that they didn’t know how to use their powers right away and had to do some actual training.
  • The sibling bond between Miri and Nick is tight and it has to be, for years it has only been the two of them. They were raised in foster care but they always wondered about their past and parents, more so with Miri. Nick has been Miri’s caretaker and he’s done a fine job at it, he’s an awesome big brother. When secrets are revealed in Olexia, it’s a lot for the siblings to take in but I’m sure we’ll see them deal with the information they have more in the next book.
  • The action keeps going in this book which kept it fun. There is a quest for Miri and Nick to find pieces of a magic mirror and they are also trying to find their parents. They encounter LaKaio (basically the bad guys) and have to get out of many dicey situations.
  • I’ve learned that in YA, there can be such an age spectrum when thinking about what audience would love this book. I’m an older adult reading YA and this book felt a little younger compared to some of the YA I’ve been reading lately…seriously, some YA at times can be considered adult reading…or at least New Adult. But this one is definitely for teens and I’d even say middle grade could enjoy this!
  • There are a lot of characters we meet when Miri and Nick jump into Olexia – especially when they meet Siymin’s large family and you would think because their names are so unique, I could follow – but at times I got a little lost. Maybe because I was getting used to the different sounding names.
  • It has a cliffhanger ending! That’s a warning if you don’t like cliffhangers haha…but yeah I read that last sentence and I was like…ohhhh. 🤭

Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know Miri and Nick and this new imaginative world of Olexia. As the series continues I’m sure there will be so much more to learn about Olexia and the people that populate such a magical world. Also the cliffhanger ending makes me want to find out what other secrets will be revealed in the sequel! This is a very solid first book for the start of a young adult fantasy series.

About the Author:

SYDNEY FAITH is a YA author who, after a lifetime of living in her make-believe worlds, decided to start sharing them at 17 in the form of books.
When she’s not writing, Sydney enjoys creating YouTube videos, baking and eating chocolate chip cookies, and thinking about writing.
As a Midwesterner, you’ll find Sydney pointing out cows on road trips, enjoying the state fair, and complaining about the snow.


You can find her at:
Instagram: @sydfaithauthor
Website: sydneyfaith.com

ARC Review | The Wickerlight

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt, #2)

Author: Mary Watson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

Categories: Dark Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Druids

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide–but an autopsy finds no evidence.

Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

FYI: I did not read The Wren Hunt and I should have. Luckily, The Wickerlight is so good as a standalone I didn’t get totally lost. I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I first started the book, I admit I put it down for a few weeks because I had to let it permeate in my head. I picked it up again recently and I finished it in one night. That was totally unexpected.

In The Wickerlight, we get to know this Irish town of Kilshamble, and wow, it is dark, mystery, mystical and magical but not in a happy glittery way. This story is told in dual POV. We meet Zara who’s sister Laila is dead and Zara wants to know how and why. Then there is David, who is a judge (no not the kind with a gavel), he is part of this magical world where augurs and judges are enemies, and there is a silent war between them. I missed a big chunk of David’s background by not reading The Wren Hunt, so read that first. Zara doesn’t know what she’s stumbled into when she digs for clues about Laila’s death, but soon it’s too late to turn back. Zara is learning that maybe Laila was right about magic.

  • I loved learning about the druids and Irish folklore in this story. We learn about the Augurs and Judges who basically hate each other – they have a complicated history.
  • This story is set in a modern world but the magic is so subtle that it fits so well, I love how it came together seamlessly. We are Zara, learning about the secrets of this town. Most of the magic is not as powerful as it was long ago but it works in the modern day world of this story. It’s nature, earth magic. Also the folklore stories about monsters in the forest – gives us a creepy background for this setting. 😳 I enjoyed the dark, eerie tone in this story!
  • The mystery of Laila’s death really kept me in this story. We stumble into this strange magical world that exists in Kilshamble. I love how Zara peels a layer slowly to find out something else about Laila. Laila’s words at the beginning of each chapter adds to the mystery as well! I wanted to find out what happened to Laila for Zara and her family’s sake. Their grief is palatable and this family has crumbled, it wasn’t tight to begin with but Laila’s death has basically broken their family apart. I felt for Zara and her mother. 🥺
  • Zara and Laila’s stories of the Horribles. I freaking loved it because it was their thing together and the stories made it perfectly okay to not be good and perfect all the time as long as you are not cruel, mean or hurtful. The Horribles were their shadow family and a coping mechanism I think because of their family situation.
  • David and Zara. David sounds like he was a jerk in The Wren Hunt and in The Wickerlight his character is fleshed out. He’s not a saint, his life is about pain, and feeling pressure from his dad. As for Zara she feels out of place in this new town, her family life wasn’t perfect to begin with and she carries guilt from Laila’s death. Her choice in the end was unexpected! And I really like their slow burn romance.
  • Obviously if you didn’t read The Wren Hunt like me…I was a little lost in the beginning and thank goodness for the glossary in the back of the book. I had to learn about the Augurs and Judges and once I did get settled in, it was smooth sailing from there.
  • There is a scene where David gets tortured – so trigger warnings: cutting. It’s not a trigger for me but even I got squeamish at the visuals of the scene. But this book IS dark, the judges do not mess around when it comes to discipline. 👀 The augurs have their own form of torture, but it didn’t involve cutting, just mind bending/mind control.
  • The business about hoarding words to make a law (like a spell) at times confused me, especially when it is introduced into the story. I think the idea is so poetic and the story is so lyrical that it went over my head at first. But then the practice grew on me, the way words are precious and how different words call to a person. I especially loved when David was hoarding words, haha, I mean that boy felt it!

The Wickerlight is an intriguing, lyrical, deliciously, darkly magical, unique story. It starts with grief and pulls you into the mystery of a death and this world of old magic. Definitely read The Wren Hunt first and then come lose yourself in The Wickerlight like I did.

BLOG TOUR } The Princess Plan by. Julia London

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Princess Plan

Author: Julia London

Format: eBook (NetGalley/Harlequin)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Categories: Historical Romance, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from HQN Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

Thank you to NetGalley and to HQN Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC and inviting me to join this blog tour!

The Princess Plan is not quite the Cinderella story. A spinster named Eliza Tricklebank meets Prince Sebastian of Alucia and things happen. And when I say things, I mean…murder and well, falling in love while investigating the murder.

Eliza is a fun character who says what’s on her mind. She’s smart, capable and wishes society didn’t put her on the shelf just because of a scandal (barely a scandal) a long time ago. There is no future of a husband for her now, but she’s come to accept her fate as her father’s caretaker.

Prince Sebastian of Alucia is a typical royal who is used to people doing his bidding, women falling into bed with him and is under the constant pressures of being a future king. He is in England to arrange a trade agreement and find a wife but someone murders one of the people he trust the most, his personal secretary. Sebastian intends to find out who has done it, and enlists the help of Eliza, which is very unconventional.

What I love most about this story is the female friendships between Eliza, her sister Hollis, their best friend Caro and even the maid, Poppy. The girls have a grand time finding content (gossip) for Holli’s women’s gazette. Eliza, Hollis and Caro are the best of friends, and the warmth between them comes through in this story. I also adored the eccentric life of Judge Trickleback’s home. He is blind and Eliza is his main caretaker but I loved the descriptions of the home they live it with the book piles, rope tied from room to room, the scratched table – everything is lived in and cozy, much like their family.

The murder mystery in the story did sometimes make me lose interest because it was a bit predictable. Also I felt like the trade agreement didn’t seem very important to Prince Sebastian because of the murder mystery and him falling for Eliza. Sebastian seems like a man who is strictly bound to duty and the way he chooses Eliza to be his wife seemed a bit easy and a little far-fetched, but by then I was just ready to ready the happily ever after.

The banter between Eliza and Sebastian was fun mostly because Eliza is so quirky and doesn’t fawn over the Prince like everyone else. Sebastian is practiced at controlling his emotions and giving practiced answers. I don’t know that I felt the urgency of their love like I hoped I would and at one point I thought, okay, he’s definitely going to marry a high ranking debutant instead of Eliza because he’d never break the rules. Maybe I wanted him to say to hell with everything and break the rules for her. At least the two of them do share a few steamy scenes together!

Overall, I mostly enjoyed Eliza and her friendship bonds, and seeing her and the Prince fall for one another.

Purchase Links: Harlequin * Amazon * Apple Books *Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * Google Play * IndieBound * Kobo

AUTHOR BIO:

Julia London is a NYT, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award of excellence in romantic fiction, and the recipient of RT Bookclub’s Best Historical Novel.

www.julialondon.com/newsletter

 www.facebook.com/julialondon

 www.twitter.com/juliaflondon

 www.instagram.com/julia_f_london

ARC Review | The Guinevere Deception

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)

Author: Kiersten White

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Categories: Fantasy, Camelot, Young Adult, Arthurian Legend

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot. 

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I’ve been around long enough to read a fair share of King Arthur and Camelot legends. I remember devouring The Once & Future King by. T.H. White and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley back in high school! I was obsessed. But it has been awhile since I’ve been interested in the legends and when I heard of The Guinevere Deception, I was intrigued!

This story is told through Guinevere’s perspective and what a view it is! We revisit Camelot through Guinevere’s eyes but deception is everywhere in this book. All is not what they seem at Camelot and magic is forbidden at Camelot, so what does that mean for Guinevere who was sent there for her ability to do magic? Arthur is under threat and she must protect him this time but is she able to or will all her efforts become unraveled?

  • The familiar characters from the Arthurian legends is nostalgic. It’s hard to resist a story about this boy who pulled a sword out of stone and is now a man and a most beloved, golden king. We have the knights and the villains, the legends have been retold so many times, it was nice to enter the world of Camelot again.
  • The story of Camelot is really magical with Merlin the wizard, the knights of the round table and Guinevere. I loved the world building of Camelot in this story, it reminded me of why I fell in love with the legends in the first place.
  • Kiersten White is a talented author and I’ve read a few of her books and love them. Once again, her writing shines and sucks you into the story.
  • The backstory on the characters is important especially for someone new to the King Arthur legends and I thought it was done well. It helped jar my memory about certain characters I had forgotten.
  • Love the twists about Guinevere, Lancelot, and even Mordred! I like how this book is reimagined for our current times. The author added LGBT relationships, and tweaked a few things about the story but I really enjoyed the changes.
  • The book cover is amazing. 😍 I can only imagine what it looks like in real life!
  • I loved the beginning of the book because we meet Guinevere. But about 15%-20% into the book I felt like I was just waiting for something more to happen. I understand though that the backstories of some characters are important, but after Guinevere gets to Camelot it felt like the story slowed down.
  • I struggled in the middle of the story because here is Guinevere who is sent to protect Arthur…but her magic seems so minimal. It seems like nothing much happens for a good half of the story, just world building, but the second half has much more action.
  • I hope we get more character depth in the sequel because outside of Guinevere they were kind of bland. Sometimes even Guinevere was a bit blah…I’d like to see if Merlin comes back into the equation and maybe see Arthur being tested (like he was in other legends) and even Guinevere, the ending shows us there is much to learn about her!

Overall, I enjoyed The Guinevere Deception, but the second half is much more engaging than the first half. It gives a some backstory for newcomers to the Arthurian legends and I enjoyed the changes and twists in the story. It’s a solid debut for this series and I look forward to reading the sequel!

{BLOG TOUR} | The Giving Heart by. Toni Blake

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Giving Heart (Summer Island, #2)

Author: Toni Blake

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday Romance, Small Town Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**


Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will never forgive her.

Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago, so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted and completely stunning. 

Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing either of them has ever had.

Thank you to HGN Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I didn’t read the first book in this Summer Island series but I think The Giving Heart can stand pretty good on it’s own.

Lila is inn-setting for her sister Meg on Summer Island, a place in Northern Michigan where not even vehicles are allowed there. But Lila has an ulterior motive for being there also, to escape something that happened to her in Chicago. Beck Grainger is an estate developer who is about to raze down trees on Meg’s property and Lila is not having it. What starts off as an escape for Lila has turned into a mission to protect Meg’s estate…and then some. 😉

I was all for this romance between Lila and Beck but what I didn’t anticipate is the storyline of Beck’s past interest in another Summer Island resident, Suzanne. Like I said, I didn’t read book one so if that’s where he flirted with Suzanne then I can understand it. But coming in fresh into this book, I really didn’t like Beck’s feelings for two women.

Outside of that though, Lila and Beck’s story is a fun and spicy Christmas romance with a lot of angst too, mostly because Lila is not a resident of Summer Island, so there is that to figure out between them. I love their interactions, bickering and banter. But the story isn’t only about them falling for each other. Lila is going through some tough times with what happened in Chicago and Beck has issues to deal with his past estranged relationship with his dad.

It’s one of those books that would make a great Hallmark Channel Christmas movie! It’s sweet, heartfelt, it has its hot moments and the characters have personal issues to work through as well. The setting of Summer Island sounds like a wintry, wonderland dream! Not that I would want to be stuck on an island with bad winter conditions but it makes for a great romantic setting. And the cast of characters adds to the setting as well, the people are nice and friendly, especially to nonresidents like Lila.

Like any Christmas romance novel it ends with a very happily ever after. And will Suzanne get her HEA in the next book? I hope so, because I felt awful for her!

This is definitely the kind of novel to enjoy right after spooky season is done or if you like to read holiday romance novels year round as well, more power to you! The Giving Heart will definitely give you the holiday feels. 🎄

Purchase your copy at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1335505059

About Toni Blake

USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Since then, she has written over twenty contemporary romance novels. Her books have received the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, and she has been nominated for a RITA Award. Toni lives with her husband in Northern Kentucky.

Author Links

Website: http://www.toniblake.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToniBlake

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorToniBlake

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authortoniblake/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/402788.Toni_Blake

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Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

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On the Shelf Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

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November 1st

Inked and Blonde (Review) https://inkedandblonde.blogspot.com/

ARC Review | Something Wicked

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Something Wicked (Book #1)

Author: Nicole M. Rubino

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: eBook – ? / Paperback-424

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Categories: Witchcraft, Salem, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A breakup and a car accident are no way to start your seventeenth birthday.

For Theo Montgomery, that is exactly how it began. Her bad luck turns worse when she returns home from a school dance to find her house on fire–with her parents still inside.

Following their deaths, Theo is sent to live with her estranged aunt in Salem, Massachusetts. If a new home and a new school aren’t enough to deal with, Theo discovers her aunt has a secret: she is a witch. And so is Theo. 

Theo must learn keep her magic in check, lest the Town’s notorious witch hunters discover that magic has returned to the world after more than three hundred years. But how can she navigate a new school, new magical powers and avoid the witch hunters, when she finds herself enjoying the company of one?

Trystan de Lancre is a dangerous witch hunter, but that doesn’t keep Theo from wanting to discover more about him. Harboring secrets of his own, Trystan isn’t the only perilous force in Salem. Something has returned to the village; something that the witches believed to have been dead and buried long ago. 

Salem’s dark past rises to haunt Theo and the present-day witches, unraveling a shocking revelation: the real cause of the Salem Witch Trials.


Thank you to Magnolia Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Something Wicked is about a teenage girl named Theo who has strange things happening to her all the time. First, the accident with her ex-boyfriend, then her parents dying all of a sudden and things happens when she gets angry like windows slam shut. 👀 An aunt she never knew she had offers her a home with her in Salem, Massachusetts and that’s when Theo realizes she’s a witch.

Salem is also home to witch hunters, one being the very handsome, Trystan. It’s a forbidden insta-romance between them since witch hunters and witches getting together is a pretty bad idea. But they can’t fight the attraction happening between them! 🤷🏻‍♀️

What I enjoyed most about the story was learning about the history of the witches. Most of the book is about Theo learning about her powers. Apparently she’s a rare, powerful Elemental witch, and she easily learns how to use her powers…which is convenient. I thought it came way too easy for her. It is a young adult book so Theo had some teenage angst about finding out the truth about her family and dealing with boy problems.

The character I enjoyed the most is Theo’s aunt Elizabeth because she’s so smart, independent and powerful. She looks out for Elizabeth and helps her grow into being witch.

Trystan’s perspective gave us insight into the witch hunters but I think more of his story will be revealed in the sequel. I thought the history of witch hunters was interesting. Now Trystan is a bit older than Theo who is still in high school. Trystan is a college boy.

A lot of the action is at the end of the book where we get some witch vs. witch fighting. I did lose some interest around the middle of the book because I didn’t quite believe or trust Trystan’s feelings for Theo especially after some truths are revealed, but they seemed to work it out for the most part. Overall it’s a quick read about Salem witches, and witch hunters, infused with a little forbidden love. If you want a witchy read for October, this will definitely hit the spot!

ARC Review | Gravemaidens

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Gravemaidens

Author: Kelly Coon

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame. 

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her. 

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself. 

Thank you to Random House Children’s and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Gravemaidens is about a young woman named Kammani who is following in her father’s footsteps to become the best healer in Alu. But her family’s reputation was tarnished years ago when her father’s healing talent couldn’t save someone very important. So they went from a renowned family in society to being outcasts and her youngest brother is sent to live at the palace as punishment. Kammani’s life and family has fallen apart.

A very fascinating ritual takes place in this book. The Lugal, their ruler, is on the verge of death but when he dies tradition follows that three of the most beautiful girls will accompany the Lugal into the tomb and die with him. These gravemaidens will travel with him to the netherworld. Kammani’s sister is chosen as a sacred maiden. Where everyone saw this role as a true honor, Kammani only sees death and vows to save her sister.

I love the strong female characters and female relationships in this book. I especially loved Iltani, who is Kammani’s best friend. She’s funny and spunky, she really made the scenes come alive. Kammani is a strong young woman as well but sometimes I thought she was rash with her actions and thoughts concerning her sister and the Nin (princess). Her reasoning for who was trying to cause harm to her and the Lugal came to her so quick, even I questioned her accusations. Nanaea, who is Kammani’s younger sister comes off as materialistic but there is more to her than what everyone sees.

Kammani does have a romantic interest in Dagan. Their relationship is a slow burn, friends to lovers clean romance. Kammani is wary of becoming a wife and mother and nothing else, so she is conflicted about marrying Dagan. Dagan is patient, loyal and a good friend to Kammani. He really is just a good guy who loves her.

Gravemaidens is a story about the bonds of family, friendship, finding love and navigating the expectations of being a young woman. Overall this is a very solid debut and an engaging young adult fantasy novel.