The Kinder Poison | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Kinder Poison (#1)

Author: Natalie Mae

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 416

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Politics

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

I read this book in one night. And look at that cover! It might be my favorite cover of 2020 releases so far – it’s simple yet oh so vibrant with all that purple. Brilliant!

My Reactions:

My Attention: read this in one sitting

World Building: amazing world building

Writing Style: flowed from beginning to end

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 there is maybe one scene with some heat

Crazy in Love: argh….Zahru and two brothers…a love triangle

Creativity: I love everything about this world, it’s magic, kingdom, the people in it

Mood: amazed 

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Be your own hero!

  • Where do I start? I love Zahru – she’s fun, she’s daring, and kind-hearted. She thinks on her feet and is a good listener (she is a Whisperer who can communicate with animals). She loves her family, her friends and her home. I love her heart.
  • The characters from Hen, her best friend, to the Princes and the Princess – it’s an array of personalities and it was fun getting to know everyone!
  • The action – and there is plenty! There is politics involved with three royal sibling vying for the throne by way of a trial. But the drama between these siblings, my goodness – I love how different they were, how they had different goals and motivations and how confused I was about who would make the best ruler. But there is action to the very end!
  • Zahru is the hero of her story. This is such an inspirational story. Throughout the book people look down on her and though it hurts, she doesn’t let it get her down, she keeps moving forward because the race to the finish never lets up. But she digs deep within her to do the right things no matter what obstacle she is faced with. Her power, being a Whisperer seems weak and everyone tells her so – but her strength is kindness, listening and caring. I like that her strength isn’t magic…it’s connecting with people.
  • The world building is lush and vibrant. I love the magic system and the politics. I enjoyed learning about the history of Orkena and wonder what will happen in the next book.
  • The only thing that bugged me was the love triangle. It reminded me a bit of The Red Queen series and I was hoping it wasn’t going to go there…but there it is. It sets off in motion some events that make me want book two in my hands. But I do hope this triangle is nipped in the bud…we shall see.

This is a fun read with an exciting new world. Zahru comes off as the weakest link but her power and strength gets her through many dangers in this story. This is an amazing debut novel and I look forward to book two!

Queen of the Conquered | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Queen of the Conquered

Author: Kacen Callender

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 400

Categories: Slavery, Historical Fantasy, Magic

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression. 

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world—perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab, Kiersten White, and Marlon James.

My Reactions:

My Attention: I had to read this book little by little

World Building: the islands of Hans Lollik (islands in the Caribbean), noble lineages with powers called the kraft

Writing Style: first half was slow, but the second half picks up

Bringing the Heat: no heat except the humidity of the islands!

Crazy in Love: no love

Creativity: this story weaves a dark spell

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: violence, mentions of suicide, whipping, slavery, lynching, mind control, abuse, rape

My Takeaway: What happens when an oppressed person becomes the oppressor?

  • All the conflicted feelings this book conjures up made me ask question after question about Sigourney Rose and why she was doing what she was doing. Oh, I wanted to shake her, yet I could understand where she was coming from as well – her trauma, her revenge, her fears, her guilt, her complacency and still, I just wanted her to stop and do the right thing.
  • Sigourney’s kraft allows her to enter people’s minds, read it, and manipulate it as well. She knows how everyone feels about her, sometimes she cares, sometimes she uses it, sometimes she ignores it. She has revenge and power on her mind, she tells herself she needs to rule these islands so she can help free the slaves. She could free the slaves but in this story she does nothing to help them. I don’t like her but she’s a fleshed out, complicated character. I just wish she was using her kraft to take people out. What was she waiting for? She plays the game of the nobles and it’s frustrating.
  • The second half of this book is when things start really happening. The twist was something I was not expecting at all and it makes me wonder what will happen next.
  • This story covers slavery and depicts its brutality without shying away from it. I took a few days to read this book because the visuals just gutted me.
  • The beginning of the story is slow because Sigourney spends a lot of time in people’s heads and it gets repetitive. So we get a story about everyone she encounters and at times I wasn’t patient enough to care about a noble and their thoughts and feelings of hate towards their slaves. 😒 There was a lot of telling and not showing and that also made me put the book down a few times.
  • Sigourney – she’s complicated. I know her background, her stories about her parents and how they were killed. But I just wanted her to free the slaves and walk away. I hated her for seeing the plight of her people and yet, she had them whipped to impress the other families. She uses them. And she has this plot for revenge…but I only saw one people at the receiving end of that revenge. So I didn’t believe her, like Loren, who distrusted her motives.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this book. I think this book has so much potential and it came about in the last part of the story. The beginning was bogged down with Sigourney entering so many minds and telling their stories. Some I cared about, others I didn’t. I think it’s an important story because of the topic of slavery and the thoughts and actions of a black slave owner. The history of the islands and Sigourney’s past lays the groundwork for revenge but she was conflicted about her motivations. The twist in the end makes me wonder what is going to happen in book two and will she eventually join the rebels side? Or will she fight to remain their master? 😞

Dark Skies | Book Review

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 464

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Politics, War, Magic

A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

This is book two in Dark Shores series but the awesome thing is that it’s not a continuation of book one. It’s a parallel story, but Lydia’s story! You can read either Dark Shores or Dark Skies first and you won’t be lost, isn’t that cool? I read them in order but I do love that each girl got their own book!

My Reactions:

My Attention: intrigued

World Building: this Dark Shores world is amazing – in Celendor, it is definitely inspired by Rome and the “west”. In Dark Skies we go across the Endless see into Mudamora. So it was fantastic getting to know this side of the world that believe in the power and gifts of the Six (gods that bestow gifts).

Writing Style: less intense than Dark Shores, but it builds nicely into some crazy battles

Bringing the Heat: where is the heat?! Ugh…my one complaint haha

Crazy in Love: more like impossible love… ☹️

Creativity: I love this way of travel called the xenthier stem, touch it and you could end up somewhere unexpected, or in the case of the East, maybe entombed! But I love this world of powers, the Six, deimos and the west about to find out the East’s secrets

Mood: ready for book three!

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Lydia is slowly coming into her power and Killian has so much power but is bound to an oath to protect someone else. They better have a happy ending in book three. 😔

  • Teriana from Dark Shores is my girl and I loved her friendship with Lydia. But this is Lydia’s side of the story. Lydia is a scholar, who was adopted by a powerful Senator and has lived a life of privilege because of it. She and Teriana are opposites in personality. I always wanted to know what happened to Lydia and now we know…and it is definitely unexpected! Lydia is tested. She has been forced out of her protective bubble and her eyes have been opened to the world around her and her power.
  • I love that either Dark Skies or Dark Shores can be read first in this series. We get two perspectives that will combine in the third book and I absolutely love this format! It didn’t feel like things were too repetitive from Dark Shores since we are getting Lydia’s perspective on events that happened.
  • There is a lot of political intrigue happening in this story. Mudamora is ruled by King Serrick and his High Lords. This half of the world still believe in the Gods and the powers they bestow on chosen people. Lydia is from Celendor where do not believe in Gods, and who’s government is ruled by a governing body of Senators. Lydia is thrust into a conflict brewing between King Serrick, his daughter Princess Malahi and the leader of the Corrupted, Rufina. There is a power play going on at court, the Corrupted are threatening to take over their kingdom and they don’t even know the West is about to invade them as well!
  • Killian is trapped and has such a strong sense of honor and loyalty. I felt his struggle. He loves his family, he loves his people, he is marked by the god of war and feels an obligation to be the hero his kingdom want him to be. He may even be starting to love Lydia but…and that’s a big BUT. 😔 I love how he picked women warriors to guard Malahi. He has a reputation as this handsome ladies man but I saw no evidence of it, he barely even flirted! His main love is for his kingdom.
  • Lydia and Killian are trying to fix their mistakes, at least Killian is – Lydia is trying to get back to Celendor so she can help her best friend. In their separate personal lives, they blame themselves for events that have taken place which have meant harm to those they care about. They are both on this path to right their wrongs and yet…I get this sense the harder they try, the tighter this web taround them gets. It’s why I want these two to have a happy ending in book three. They deserve it!
  • I feel like this book is a drumbeat of upcoming war…you know it’s coming, the trap is being set, Mudamora is dying (there is blight on the land and water, there are monsters attacking at night, people are turning Corrupted), the tension is being pulled taut, the battle is coming, the war is coming, both East and West are about to collide (in book three) and I cannot wait to find out what is going to happen.
  • Where is the love?! Not even a kiss, a near kiss, ugh, I’m a romance lover so this killed me! Haha…the story didn’t actually need it, but oh my heart. I was just broken for these two. There is not time for their romance to build with war coming, there are paths to take, choices to make and all Killian and Lydia wants to do, is the RIGHT thing for the people they love. But I want them together so bad…it broke my heart in the end! 💔
  • Lydia’s story is going to reveal some secrets in book three, I can feel it! And I can’t wait to see how it affects everything.

I will be counting the days until book three, The Gilded Serpent, releases next year. I love this series and the characters. I love the world building, the political intrigue, and I want to see everything come together. I’m ready to see how our four characters grow and come together to defeat the enemies around them!

ARC Review | The Crow Rider (The Storm Crow, #2)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Crow Rider (The Storm Crow, #2)

Author: Kalyn Josephson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

The Crow Rider is the conclusion to The Storm Crow duology and I think it did a great job tying things up nicely. I really loved the first book because I was introduced to this magical world of magical crows – but I did think the story needed more crows.

We don’t get many more crows in this volume. Res, Thia’s hatched crow is basically the crow we get to know in this series. This time the political stakes are high and Thia has to grow up fast. She’s come a long way from grieving in the first book to now taking a leadership role in this book.

  • Thia gains confidence in this story and she becomes a leader while trying to figure out who to trust. She also has to make the leaders of other kingdoms trust her so that an alliance can take place. So yes Thia comes a long way!
  • There is romance and it is fairly predictable in how it happens but I like that it doesn’t overtake the story.
  • There are a lot of battles in this one. It’s nice to see Res, Thia’s crow finally learn some skills to use the crow powers and magic.
  • Kiva is still there with Thia through the end and she tries to keep Thia on the mission even when she doesn’t agree with Thia’s actions. Their friendship is strong which is good.
  • Even though this story has a lot more battles, at times in the beginning I was a little bored I think because it was pretty much predictable. Thia was going to help save the day with Res as her crow and Ericen at her side, right? Right.
  • I was waiting for more crows again and finally when I realized Res is like THE only crow we get to really know…I let it go and tried to enjoy the story.

Overall, thought I rated this a 3.5 and the first book a 4.5 – I think the duology as a whole is a sold 4 stars. I say that because though everything is predictable, I found the crow magic fun and different. I enjoyed the world building mostly in the first book but I think this was a really good young adult series perfect for young adults (I’m an older adult haha). The ending tied everything up and left me in a hopeful mood which was nice.

Kingdom of Souls | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Kingdom of Souls

Author: Rena Barron

Format: eBook (owned)

Pages: 496

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther

THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

Shame and disappointment dog her.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since when it was published and when I saw the ebook was on sale, I knew I had to get it. I was not disappointed, this book is amazing!

My Reactions:

My Attention: it took me three days to read this because there is a lot of world building and characters to digest

World Building: lush, detailed

Writing Style: the story telling sucked me in, it flowed nicely

Bringing the Heat: 🔥slow burn 

Crazy in Love: best friends to lovers BUT it’s wayyy more complicated than that

Creativity: so many twists and turns I was shocked a lot in the 2nd half of the book. I love the world this is set in with the gods, demons, craven, orishas and tribes!

Mood: blown away

Triggers: violence, death (of children)

My Takeaway: Family can betray you. 🥺

  • The storytelling sucked me into this fantastic world of tribes, magic, Gods, demons, friendship, love, and family! This story has layers – I loved the twists – I was like this… “😲” …throughout the second half of the book!
  • Arrah is a girl who’s magic hasn’t appeared as it should. Both her parents have strong magic so it’s disappointing to her and her mother when it appears she has none. All she wants is to please her mother (there is no pleasing this woman!) and her Grandmother. Thank God her father always appreciating her no matter what. ❤️
  • The backstory of the Gods toying with the lives of these people, makes the story so much more complicated. We get commentary from some of these Gods to show how they are tied in deeply into the culture of the tribes and to the Kingdom as well.
  • When you think the story is a simple one about a girl who wishes she has magic and power…the story gets deeper and DARKER. I loved it. I think when it gets dark is when my mind said wow. Arrah’s journey in this life is not easy and in the end she has to make hard choices about family and about love.
  • I’ve read a lot of books lately with neglectful moms (is this a popular theme lately?) but wow…Arrah’s mother, Arti, is on another level. I didn’t like her mom, but I like that the story went there and it made Arrah’s hurt and despair more relatable.
  • I love Arrah’s friends, they bring humor and have her back when she really doesn’t have anyone else on her side.
  • The beginning is slow because it’s world building but I still enjoyed it. The second half is a lot of action. I’ve learned to keep at it with slow beginnings as long as the world or the characters interests me and I’m glad I’ve learned to do this.
  • As for the romance part of the book…oh boy – not sure what is going to happen there. Is it a love triangle? I’m going to say yes and I was bummed about what happened between Arrah and Rudjek because they were best friends first before anything else. It will be interesting to see what happens with Arrah and Rudjek.
  • Effiya. That girl demon! 😖

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot with it’s vibrant world building and cast of characters! In the second half I was just shocked with the twists and turns. Arrah starts off just a girl wanting her magic and power to manifest inside her. She wants to be recognized by her mother and not be a failure to her Grandmother and their tribe. By the end of this book, her family is taken from her, but she must stay stronger for a little while longer and this time she has her friends at her side and the powers of her tribe within her. I look forward to reading book two in this series!

ARC Review | Cinderella is Dead

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Cinderella Is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

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

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

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

Now this is an imaginative and creative retelling of the infamous Cinderella story. Cinderella is Dead is a big twist on the happily ever after story we’ve been fed since Disney created the Cinderella movie. Poor Cinderella loses her father, is raised by her wicked stepmother, meets a fairy godmother, a Prince and all is well in the kingdom.

Not so in this retelling. Prince Charming has left a legacy of oppression against women in the kingdom of Mersailles. Girls are paired up to be married to eligible men (doesn’t matter their age) and if they are abused, people don’t blink an eye. Everyone think it’s a man’s right to treat women however they want, but Sophia is not having it. Plus, she wants to be with another girl, and that’s not allowed in Mersailles so she flees. Sophia uncovers the horrible truth about Prince Charming and Mersailles, but can she help turn the tide and take down the king?

  • Talk about a twist! I love the way the Cinderella story is upended in this retelling. By the way, I do love the happily ever after Cinderella story I grew up with but this particular take is definitely reflective of our women empowerment times today. The girls in Mersailles have this legacy – to “be happy” and in love like the original Cinderella story, they have to follow the rules set out by King Manford. But it’s all a lie. Women are being abused, killed, mistreated and no one can do a thing about it – until Sophia tries.
  • Sophia knows she likes girls, and she tries to flee Mersailles the night of her pairing, where she is supposed to find her future husband. Sophia is a rebel and tries her best to uncover the truth about Mersailles and their king.
  • There is a lot of diversity in this book, which is always nice. We have the f/f relationships going on and Sophia is a queer black girl. And let me say, it was awesome to see the girls in this book take this Cinderella story, expose it for what it is (a lie) and then take down the king. DO IT. They did. Haha.
  • The fairy godmother’s role in this story is very interesting. When she tells the story of the true Cinderella it’s an eye opening tale. But there are ore surprises in store.
  • I thought Sophia was so in love with Erin at first, to the point she begged her to run away with her. That ends quick in the beginning. Eventually something grows between Sophia and Constance but it may seem like insta-lust right after things with Erin have ended. Anyway it just made me go..🤔. The friendship between Sophia and Constance is strong though, so that was a plus.
  • I did find parts of the book that lagged, especially during the explanations and the back story of the real Cinderella. Also I read an e-arc that was just formatted in a way that made reading not enjoyable. 🤦🏻‍♀️ So that is not something against the book at all.
  • Triggers: violence, abuse

I really enjoyed this dark retelling of Cinderella! The concept is creative and entertaining. The message is empowering. Not everyone wants Cinderella’s life and I’m glad this book tells girls they have plenty of other options out there. Everyone’s personal happily ever after is going to be different and that’s perfectly fine.

ARC Review | The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch, #3)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch, #3)

Author: Laurie Frost

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 608

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

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

Elloren Gardner hides the most powerful secret in all Erthia—she is the Black Witch of Prophecy, and destined to triumph…or be used as the ultimate weapon of destruction.

Separated from everyone she loves, isolated and hunted, Elloren must turn to the last person she can trust—her fastmate, Commander Lukas Grey. With the Mage forces of Gardneria poised to conquer all of Erthia, Elloren has no choice but to ally with Lukas and combine their power to keep herself out of the hands of Gardnerian leader Marcus Vogel…the holder of the all-consuming Shadow Wand.

With just weeks to train to become a warrior, and no control over her magic, Elloren finds unexpected allies among those under orders to kill her. It’s time to step up. To fight back. And to forge onward through the most devastating loss yet. 

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

My Reactions:

My Attention: wavered sometimes (mostly in the first half)

World Building: epic world building but sometimes too much going on

Writing Style: pacing was a bit off

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 – was not expecting this…😬

Crazy in Love: …love triangle…😣

Creativity: love the world of The Black Witch

Mood: mixed feelings

Triggers: sexual harassment, violence

My Takeaway: I thought this was the last book of the series…and I think it should’ve been.

  • Elloren finding her courage – but damn it took so much and so long for her to do it. We are in book three girl, you gotta unleash that power and learn to control it! Be the Black Witch already!
  • Lukas Grey is so knowledgeable and such a leader, sometimes I wish he was the Black Witch 😅. He is battle honed, politically savvy, smart and just an all around leader. I liked getting to know him better in this book.
  • Epic world building is still there and you just get a sense this world the author built is so vast.
  • There is so much action in the last third of the book, it really picks up pace and then it’s a irritating cliffhanger!
  • The beginning of this book could have been whittled down some. It took me awhile to get into the story. I wanted things to be tied up in this one but I felt like it added more things, new names, and just too much.
  • All I wanted was for Elloren to just become the Black Witch stop saying she is and just BE. Let’s get on with taking down Vogel and freeing all the people! She annoyed me because this is book three.
  • There has always been a love triangle and okay I get the appeal of Lukas and Elloren, their affinity lines match, and like I said, he’s a leader, he’s super smart/knowledgable, sexy and lethal. He is someone you want at your back or side…but she loves/loved Yvan who is dead, supposedly. So her getting together with Lukas in this book chaffed at me because I just KNEW something would happen to mess them up as well. How many books are in this series?…because I can’t take this swinging back and forth on who she loves and who’s alive or dead. Maybe we just need her to love herself and wield that power to help all these oppressed people like she’s supposed to. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Basically this installment is about Elloren embracing her power instead of fearing it. She learns to hone fighting skills so she isn’t helpless but honestly, this all takes place in the second half of the book! Elloren and Lukas definitely have an attraction and I am team Yvan but I definitely see Lukas’ appeal – the two of them smolder around each other (more than once in this book). And then there is that cliffhanger which made me groan out loud haha, because as much as I love this series, I don’t want it to drag on either. This so far is my least favorite book of the series but I hope the next gets us to the major battle and ties up loose ends.

ARC Review | Where There Be Humans

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Where There Be Humans

Author: Rebekah L. Purdy

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 1488 KB (digital file size)

Publication Date: June 1, 2020

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.**

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Archer is arguably the best warrior-in-training Gob Hollow has ever seen. Yet everyone—except her best friend she suddenly has other feelings for—looks down on her because she’s only half goblin, with no idea what the other half is. She’s always suspected it might be human.

But humans, she’s been told, aren’t real. They’re only creatures of myth.

When the prince of their kingdom is taken for ransom, it’s Ivy’s big chance to prove her worth. And when she learns his captors are human, the rescue mission becomes personal. The stories were clearly wrong, and now she has a chance to find the truth about her lineage, as well. If she survives…

With a small band of warriors at her command, including her best friend turned crush that’s getting harder to hide, Ivy sets out to find the prince and her human family. But the answers lie within secrets and conspiracies that run far deeper than she ever imagined.

Thank you to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Reactions:

Had My Attention: for the most part

World Building: fairly solid on the goblin world, but some holes with the human being fairy tales bit 🤔

Writing Style: Easy to follow, quick read 🙂, more young teen than young adult

Bringing the Heat: a sweet kiss 🔥

Crazy in LOVE: 💚💚 (mild, best-friend crush)

Creativity: Goblins 👍🏼

Mood: adventurous

Triggers: mild violence

My Takeaway: half goblin girl shows her goblin family and friends that she’s better than the boys and worthy

  • Goblin stories always entertain me because not a lot of books are written about them. They are not as gorgeous as their fae or elf counterparts so I like how we have a handsome goblin prince with razor sharp teeth and green skin in this book.
  • Ivy can hold her own against the bullies and she trains with the guys so that’s always fun to see a girl who can fight.
  • I thought her crush on her best friend Pudge is cute and sweet. Their relationship is solid, not much challenges there except how they both don’t know how the other feels.
  • Love the book cover!
  • The twist with Ivy and Dorian (goblin prince) – ha! Didn’t see that coming and it was a bit awkward but it worked out in the end.
  • It’s a quick read and though Ivy encounters some challenges, she meets them pretty easily. Personally I wanted more, even the betrayal felt a bit weak, it felt like a light fantasy – which is fine for some. For me, I just wanted more.

I like stories about goblins because they have a rich culture even though they don’t seem the most glamorous of creatures. This story held my attention for the most part with a goblin kingdom, adventure, a girl trying to prove herself and a happy ending.

Book Review | Ember Queen (Ash Princess, #3)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Ember Queen

Author: Laura Sebastian

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 512

Categories: Young Adult, Series, Fantasy, Romance

The thrilling conclusion to the series that began with the instant New York Times bestseller “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” (Bustle), Ember Queen is an epic fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers. 

Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way. 

The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.

A princess becomes a Queen.

My Reactions:

My Attention: captured

World Building: detailed, layered, elemental gem magic, conquered kingdoms – all of it

Writing Style: fluid, so good

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 a few kisses and one night of something more not that detailed haha – Theo is busy saving Astrea!

Crazy in Love: not so crazy, but just right for a Princess fighting for her throne – she has priorities and needs balance 🤷🏻‍♀️

Creativity: same tropes as other “princess trying to win back her kingdom” kinda story BUT…the political chess in this story and writing is good

Mood: victorious 👊🏼

Triggers: death, violence

My Takeaway: Theo the princess grows up a lot and earns her real crown and throne. 👸🏻 She learns some hard lessons along the way. 😢

  • I didn’t think I’d finish this series out because Lady Smoke was an okay book mostly because of the love triangle which I felt became distracting to Theo’s goals. But in Ember Queen…she has grown, she listens to counsel from the people around her, she puts aside the romance because she is so close to freeing Astrea and their people. She endures hardship, challenges and painful loss. 🥺 But all of this has shaped who she is.
  • The chess match she has with Cress kept me invested. I wondered what Cress’ end game would be and it kept me on my toes.
  • Theo lucked out having Heron, Blaise and Artemesia by her side. Seriously, if I was someone trying to get my throne back, I want those people my side. ❤️ Talk about loyalty until the end.
  • This second half of this book was emotional and intense. Soren, Erik, Heron, Art and then Blaise…ugh…I was so damn worried about all of them. And I didn’t even think I cared about them but this book showed the bonds between them that wouldn’t break and I wanted a happy ending for them all.
  • Soren and Theo’s reunion was bittersweet but I liked that their relationship wasn’t the focus of this book. It was reiterated over and over in the book that Theo would put Astrea above anyone else and I thought that was a queen mentality. It may have seemed cold at times, but come one…she’s a Queen. She has to make the hard decisions and face the consequences no matter how painful.
  • This story shows how power can corrupt and how a leader has to face hard decisions especially in times of war. What are the right decisions to make? Which one will lower loss of life? What does it take to stop a war and have peace? An eye for an eye? Turn the other cheek? Theo has to face these issues and questions head on and in the end she makes the best possible choice.
  • Some parts were repetitive, like at times Theo’s plans (and there were many) were faulty and her counsel would try to find the holes in it, which I appreciated but there were so many plans in this mission to the throne that at times I wanted it to move faster.
  • You have to dig into the first part of the story because it is really setting up for a final battle which had me on edge. But many parts have to fall into place but Theo has some hiccups here and there which seems like the story is moving slowly – but she and her allies dig deep, and keep fighting.

This was a satisfying end to the series, especially with the epilogue. Most stories end with a happily ever after, the girl gets the guy, the kingdoms are saved. But has to be one of my favorite endings, Theo is alone and reflects on her journey as she approaches and sits on the throne she feared and hated for so long. She knows the loss that came with her victory, she knows the battle within herself that she’s had to fight and overcome. But now she’s made the throne her OWN. Ugh…I wanted to stand up and clap and cheer for her, that’s how awesome I felt at the end of this book. Bravo! I look forward to whatever Laura Sebastian writes next!

ARC Review | Of the Blood

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: Of the Blood (Heir of Blood and Fire, #1)

Author: Cameo Renae

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: ?

Publication Date: May 14, 2020

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

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

One malicious prince. Two rival kingdoms. And an innocent girl caught in the crossfire.

Raised in a war-ravaged continent, temptation comes to Calla Caldwell in the form of a charming and mysterious stranger. Giving in to his intimate seduction, her world is forever changed by a single bite.

Calla quickly learns the handsome stranger is vampire prince, Trystan Vladu. His bite was an attempt to claim and save her from a plot of vengeance generations in the making. However, the claws of that ancient vendetta are scraping ever closer.
Thrust into a new nightmare by the Prince of the corrupt kingdom of Morbeth, Calla is captured, tortured, and starved in the dank confines of his dungeon. While in captivity, she takes part in a séance with a witch of light where she contacts a departed relative—a Princess of Incendia—who bequeaths a gift to Calla that will tip the scales of good and evil . . . if she can learn to harness it.

With a dark tapestry of secrets, lies, and murder unraveling around her, Calla must learn to embrace the power roiling through her veins, or be snuffed out by the strangling fist of a malevolent darkness. 

Thank you to Victory Editing and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Vampires, damphyrs, witches and even a pirate! This book pretty much had it all. Calla is bitten by a vampire prince and that leads her on a journey filled with danger and discovery.

  • I like the people Calla meets along the way like Kylan, Melaina and Markus. I thought these side characters brought a lot to the storyline because we learn a lot about vampires and the world they live in through their explanations to Calla.
  • The world building is interesting and I was curious about these different kingdoms of Morbeth and Incendia. We have vampires, witches, elementals, and even aquarians. Calla spends most of her time though with evil Prince Roehl in Morbeth but she does have some adventures after escaping Morbeth.
  • The cover of the book was what made me request this book, I like it a lot!
  • I like fast paced books that hit you with action in the first few pages but this book did that way too fast for me. One moment Calla is at a party, then she’s bitten by a vampire prince, Trystan, who was drawn to her because he felt a connection to her name on paper. Not going to lie, that made me wary of the story. I just didn’t believe it! 🤦🏻‍♀️ It’s too much of a major insta-connection, I won’t say insta-love because she meets other guys along the way.
  • Calla is made a vampire super quick but Trystan is barely in the book and she’s yet to complete a blood bond with him. But evil Prince Roehl, also wants her to have a blood bond with him. YET…when she finally escapes Roehl and hops aboard a pirate ship -she falls in lust with Sebastian Calloway. Go Calla…but I wasn’t feeling any of it. Apparently every man wants her because she’s special – she’s an elemental vampire royal but I wasn’t connecting to her at all. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • This reads like a story for teens but it does have heated moments between Calla and some of the men she meets along the way.

This story wasn’t for me only because I felt no connection to Calla. I think the world building is great because it had a variety of supernaturals like witches, vampires, elementals and aquarians. I’m sure the love story will develop more in the next book and maybe Trystan will get more of a spotlight because I’m assuming she ends up bonding with him sometime down the series, at least he’d be my first choice for Calla. I’m not sure if I will continue with the series only but though it didn’t work out for me, I think this will book will appeal to many fantasy fans.