Forging Silver into Stars by. Brigid Kemmerer | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Forging Silver into Stars (#1)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 560

Publication Date: 6/7/22

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Categories: Fantasy, Politcal Intrigue, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT+, Spinoff of Series, Series

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

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

When ancient magic tests a newfound love, a dark fate beckons . . .

Magic has been banished in the land of Syhl Shallow for as long as best friends Jax and Callyn can remember. They once loved the stories of the powerful magesmiths and mythical scravers who could conjure fire or control ice, but now they’ve learned that magic only leads to danger: magic is what killed Callyn’s parents, leaving her alone to raise her younger sister. Magic never helped Jax, whose leg was crushed in an accident that his father has been punishing him for ever since. Magic won’t save either of them when the tax collector comes calling, threatening to take their homes if they can’t pay what they owe.

Meanwhile, Jax and Callyn are astonished to learn magic has returned to Syhl Shallow — in the form of a magesmith who’s now married to their queen. Now, the people of Syhl Shallow are expected to allow dangerous magic in their midst, and no one is happy about it.

When a stranger rides into town offering Jax and Callyn silver in exchange for holding secret messages for an anti-magic faction, the choice is obvious — even if it means they may be aiding in a plot to destroy their new king. It’s a risk they’re both willing to take. That is, until another visitor arrives: handsome Lord Tycho, the King’s Courier, the man who’s been tasked with discovering who’s conspiring against the throne.

Suddenly, Jax and Callyn find themselves embroiled in a world of shifting alliances, dangerous flirtations, and ancient magic . . . where even the deepest loyalties will be tested.

Content Warning: Violence, Kidnapping, Abuse, Mention of Rape

I requested this book because it was written by Brigid Kemmerer but I didn’t realize it was a spinoff of The Cursebreakers series until I started reading it. I felt myself rebelling against this book because I didn’t love the ending of that first series. It was okay, I just didn’t think I’d return to that world again – yet here I was with Grey, Lia Mara and of course Tycho (who I vaguely remember).

This new series is set in Shyl Shallow and is told by three perspectives: Tycho, Jax – a blacksmith in Shyl Shallow, and Callyn, a baker and Jax’s best friend. It took me awhile to get into this book because I didn’t know what we were doing back here…is there a story to tell? Well – it seems like there is no happy ever after still and there is a growing faction of people who are opposed to King Grey and magic. The plan is to eliminate him and save the queen (but she doesn’t need saving). But things don’t go as planned.

I did like that this was Tycho’s story. He’s traveling between Grey’s court and Rhen’s Emberfall a lot and those two always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I just never liked how the previous series ended, I guess. But I did my best to concentrate on Tycho’s side of things. I love that he meets Jax – they have an attraction that gets kind of steamy. I felt bad for Jax because his dad abuses him and he is just trying his best to survive it. As for Callyn -I liked meeting her but then she lands in the morally grey area, especially when Lord Alek comes around and I’m not sure what will happen to her in the sequel. In this story no one is perfect.

Grey and Rhen are back for a little bit but like I said I don’t have happy feelings for either of them. The beginning of this story took awhile to get into but I did find myself caring about Tycho and Jax by the middle of it all. As for Cal and Alek? Ugh – all I feel are red flag alerts. I think it’s supposed to be an enemies to lovers romance building but I think I hate Alek…so, can he redeem himself in my eyes? I don’t know! In relation to the story…do we need to be back in this world? It just feels like an unending cycle and no one will come out totally happy, with magic or not. I am intrigued about the scravers though! But enough for me to want to read book two? I’m still not sure. I did enjoy the second half of this book though so we shall see.

Why you should read it:

  • you loved The Cursebreakers series, want to revisit old characters and the same world (you should read The Cursebreakers series if you haven’t)
  • M/M romance
  • political intrigue and some good action at the end

Why you might not want to read it:

  • wasn’t happy with the previous series
  • relationships are constantly tested in this series

My Thoughts:

I went into this book kind of wary of returning to Shyl Shallow and Emberfall and yes I struggled to get into the story in the beginning because I wondered – was there really a story to tell about this world again? But I found myself invested midway to the end of the book. I liked Tycho and Jax’s romance and am sort of intrigued by Callyn and Lord Alek – but also warning bells are going off on those two also. I wasn’t as interested in being around Grey and Rhen again, I have bittersweet or maybe just bitter feelings about how that relationship turned out. I think Nakiis’s story would be enough to pull me back into the next book. For fans of The Cursebreaker series, you will love this spinoff because all the old characters are there, and it’s a familiar world. For the not so big fans of the series, you may want to skip this one…unless you are as curious as I was, then you should read it.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Fabric of Chaos by. Helen Scheuerer | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Fabric of Chaos (Curse of the Cyren, #3)

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Format: ebooks (kindle unlimited)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/1/22

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Series, Adventure

An almighty power. A deadly choice. Will she come undone when chaos reigns?

After facing heart-breaking betrayals and jaw-dropping revelations in Akoris, Roh must steel herself once more and continue her quest to win the cyren throne.

But with poison lingering in her body and a new, unpredictable companion at her side, the trek to the mysterious territory of Csilla becomes all the more perilous. Dangerous schemes are afoot – ones that threaten not only the homeland Roh intends to rule, but all of cyrenkind.

As her journey stretches across the realm, Roh must navigate the dark web of her own ambition and master her newfound magic.

Will she triumph against the trials ahead – or sow the seeds of her own destruction?

More action-packed than ever, brimming with new secrets and a touch of romance, The Fabric of Chaos is the breathtaking third installment of Helen Scheuerer’s Curse of the Cyren Queen quartet.

Content Warning: Violence, Grief

I liked this one so much better than book two and almost gave it 5 stars but the slow burn is way too slow haha.

Roh and her group of friends travel to the next location to find the next gem for her crown. They take a harrowing journey to Csilla and encounter so much challenges and danger. When they get to Csilla we learn more about the past between Roh’s mother and the current queen. More secrets are revealed and this time we also get some backstory about the Water Warlocks and what atrocities their people were subjected to.

Roh has more character growth especially when it comes to finding her confidence, making the right decisions, and knowing who to trust. I love that the friendship between all of them has grown tighter.

As for the romance, finally something happens and my wait has come to an end at least. I do think the slow burn was way too slow and I had to wait for book three to get more action between Finn and Roh but I guess it was worth the wait. Of course then a twist in events once more makes Roh doubt herself. The torture for Roh is never-ending, she goes through a lot of turmoil in this book! I hope she gets a really good ending in the next and final book. But what I love about her is that she grows in each book in the series.

I do wish this series was a trilogy but I get with these kinds of series on Amazon that the release dates are a shorter wait than books from bigger publishers. I love that I don’t have to wait too long but also wish the story wouldn’t go on forever.

Why you should read it:

  • to continue the series – great story-telling
  • slow burn romance, finally we get some action between Roh and Finn
  • Roh’s character growth, lovable characters

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into a long series…seems like it’s going to be a 4 books series – you might want to wait for the last book to be out and binge it

My Thoughts:

I love this installment to the series! It really had everything: action, danger, friendship, romance, plot twists, back story and it even ends really good! It setts up for an exciting conclusion in the next book I hope. I’ve come to love the characters and am rooting for Roh (queen or not) to make the best decisions and trust the small circle of found family around her. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Bone Shard Daughter by. Andrea Stewart | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Bone Shard Daughter

Author: Andrea Stewart

Format: ebooks (own)

Pages: 438

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Orbit

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ+

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Content Warning: Death, Violence

This book was a pleasant surprise! I was drawn to the cover – because look at it, it looks amazing. And then I heard some good reviews about it so when I saw the ebook on sale on Amazon, I had to get it.

There are a few characters in this story, but the main ones for me are Lin and Jovis. Lin is the Emperor’s daughter and we learn her father is pitting her against his foster-son Bayan, to see who would be his rightful heir. Thing is the Emperor has an obsession. He makes constructs. These are creatures that are made, different animal parts put together to make a new creature. The construct is powered by a human part though – a bone shard taken from children. The Emperor claims these constructs are needed to keep the empire in order, but Lin knows something is wrong. I found the story about constructs so fascinating and so creative!

Outside of the palace, there is Jovis – a smuggler who is trying to pay down his debts and who has his own obsession – with a woman he loves and who went missing years ago. Since she has been gone he has been following clues to find her. I love his personality. He kind of reminded me of Aladdin (in the Disney movie lol) and he found a pet companion named Mephi. I loved their bond. Jovis definitely is that character that keeps the story moving and he gives us a tour of this world the story is set in. He travels to different islands and encounter the people that live so through him we get a lot of the setting.

The romance is between Phalue and Ramani. Phalue is a governor’s daughter, Ramani is a commoner and a rebel. They love one another but Ramani is trying to make Phalue see the plight of the people around them. I’m glad someone had a happy ending in this book because Jovis missing his love, Lin wanting her father’s love…it was tough for a lot of the characters.

Now this story is dark because the bone shards they use for the constructs come from children. There is a ceremony where a child’s shard is taken. The Emperor is like a mad scientist, he’s creating creatures and he doesn’t care about anything else. There are a few reveals in the end which sets up the sequel.

There are some questions I still have about the constructs – because it’s not futuristic, the constructs have instructions written on their shards. And how is it the Emperor is the only one who repairs this many constructs around the empire? There are a bunch of islands in this empire…so I just had a few questions. Maybe there will be more answers in book two?

Why you should read it:

  • original and creative story about constructs and bone shards
  • great world building and lots of action, especially if Jovis was telling his side of the story
  • LGBTQ+ romance rep
  • bond between Jovis and Mephi (love Mephi)

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into high fantasy

My Thoughts:

This story has a lot going on but I thought the author did a good job balancing it all. There are multiple POVs, romance, action, plot twists and detailed world building. I was intrigued with the constructs, and the characters. It’s an entertaining story and I’m eager to read book two to see what happens next!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Ebonwilde by. Crystal Smith | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Ebonwilde (Blood Leaf #3)

Author: Crystal Smith

Format: ebook (owned)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 4/12/22

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance

Get ready to be swept away, seduced, and swindled in the wickedly vicious third and final installment in the Bloodleafseries that Laura Sebastian called “enchanting, visceral, and twisty.”

Welcome to Ebonwilde. Come and find me. 

Aurelia’s last words haunted Zan. Left with the task of finding and reviving Princess Aurelia, Zan sets off on his own adventure to find her and return the gift she sacrificed for him—her life. But not all is what it seems, and Ebonwilde is more dangerous than anyone can predict.

Content Warning: Death, Violence

I’m not sure what I was expecting with the end of this series but this one surprised me, sometimes not in a good way.

I love the twists and turns but that came mostly at the ending. I like how the story was resolved and loose ends were tied up. I even liked how everyone is separated but come together to defeat the villain and make everything right. Some people get happy endings, others get a bad deal.

The thing I didn’t really enjoy was the timeline jumping. I understand why it happened, because Zan can basically time jump in the Gray. So there are many things going on at one time, kind of like the webs that the Spinner has to deal with. I did like that parallel. But it could get confusing at times. There is a Then, Now, 1620, 1921 (10 days before Midwinter…etc…)…and it was hard to follow at times. I wish it was a bit more straightforward but that’s what happens with time jumping!

Also, the love triangle bit was breaking my heart. I refused to believe it was happening and was thinking, this cannot end this way! Why now? I was getting upset. There were people dying that I didn’t want to die. Of course you have to read and find out what happens in the end and it is beautiful how it ends but I think it took a confusing way to get to there.

The thing I love about this series is the mythology and questions about power and how it affects people. I found this particular book fascinating because it touched on present day issues like like when a virus ravages a community. Or when a radical figure uses his power influence a group of people and cause chaos.

It was always about Aurelia in the beginning and her choices. Now we know why but I did like that in this last book, it took all of them, a collective effort, not just Aurelia, to save humanity. I like that we get to see other characters and their relationships. I loved all the reveals – but they really did come all at the end.

Why you should read it:

  • to finish the series
  • great world building and the story did tie up loose ends
  • love how the characters are complex, each has a role, and our heroine isn’t perfect

Why you might not want to read it:

  • first part is slow because many different perspectives and timelines happening
  • a love triangle (but read it to find out what happens)

My Thoughts:

I loved that this book tied up the loose ends and really did a nice job ending the series. I just wish it wasn’t such a confusing timeline for me – but that could be my fault for not rereading book two. I recommend doing so, so you are reacquainted with the whole cast of characters. I didn’t like the love triangle because it was so sad and bittersweet. The ending of this book was an emotional rollercoaster with twists and turns and your faves are not guaranteed to survive. I’m glad I got to finish this series. Book two was my favorite of the three, but I really did love all the reveals in book three.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

Hope was such a pernicious, perilous thing. A rope to promised safety that could lead instead to the brink of a chasm, with no quarter for retreat or net to catch your fall.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

And I will keep choosing you, every day, every hour, every minute, for as long as I live.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

Everything that had ever separated us, every lie, every loss, every hurt, mistake, and misunderstanding, now became what dragged us back to one another.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

I don’t believe that who we are is ever set in stone. We are transitory creatures—every day, we wake up as someone new, changed just a little bit by the experiences of the day before. Who we were is always a part of us, but it doesn’t determine who we are, nor who we can still become.

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

Castles in Their Bones by. Laura Sebastian | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Castles in Their Bones

Author: Laura Sebastian

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 514

Publication Date: 2/1/22

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Young Adult, Kingdom Politics, Fantasy

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

Content Warning: Death, Violence

This gave me Three Dark Crown vibes and sometimes The Bridge Kingdom but way less dark and intense.

I liked the three sisters and their back stories. They were born to be wives of Princes in neighboring kingdoms with plans of their mother taking over each kingdom. That is the plan, but when the girls are aways from their mother – plans start to change.

Sophronia, is the soft hearted one and already half in love with her Prince. Beatriz, is the pretty one and placed in the most extravagant kingdom. Daphne, is the cunning and cold one and she’s place in the most northern kingdom which lacks a lot of comforts and luxuries her homeland of Bessimia is known for. It did take a moment to get each girl and their personalities situated in my head. I had to make sure who’s perspective I was reading, by checking each chapter title.

I think the story moved very evenly between the three perspectives which was really nice but I think I wanted a bit more intensity. I wanted the stakes to feel high for these sisters but I didn’t quite feel it. They knew their duties and knew their own personalities, so it played out how their mom anticipated. There is very limited romance in the story, lots of political intrigue and betrayal.

I did like the magic system of the wishes but would like to learn more about it and the stardust. I was definitely captured by the story and kept reading to see what would happen next.

The twist in the end made me a bit sad but I feel liked Daphne’s story will be one to watch. Will she help her sisters or follow her mom’s plan? It ends in a cliffhanger of course so I feel like I have to read book two just to know what Daphne will do.

Why you should read it:

  • court politics
  • it’s got stardust magic, and sisters meant to infiltrate other kingdoms
  • entertaining story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the story didn’t wow me – but try it out if you like court politics!

My Thoughts:

Perfect for fans of kingdoms and court politics. Like I said in the beginning it had the Three Dark Crowns vibe but with a little Bridge Kingdom (the sisters infiltrating other kingdoms). I loved the bond of the sisters and it was interesting to see how each would carry out their plans in the places they were sent. There is little romance, lots of betrayal and a cliff hanger ending. Will definitely be reading book two to see what happens next.

📚 ~ Yolanda

This Woven Kingdom by. Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: This Woven Kingdom

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 512

Publication Date: 2/1/22

Publisher: HarperCollins

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Jinn, Romance

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

Content Warning: Death, Violence, Abuse

First, this cover – it is gorgeous. Second, this is from Tahereh Mafi and I loved the Shatter Me series because of Warner lol. So I was very excited to see what This Woven Kingdom was about and hope there was some new tortured boy to fall in love with.

I got Cinderella vibes from this one but more sinister and infused with Persian mythology. The world building is detailed and the writing is lyrical. The romance is swoon-worthy if you are into insta-attraction and yes…I am into it haha.

As far as the characters are concerned, Alizeh is struggling to survive but she is strong, determined, has powers because she is a Jinn and still has her weaknesses like being afraid of the dark. She was a bit of a contradiction. She is powerful with her Jinn powers and a Queen in hiding at that, she even killed people…yet she is constantly abused by the head maid. Kamran is an arrogant and spoiled prince, but one who is trapped in his own misery at court and under his grandfather’s eye. He never seems to live up to the King’s expectations, no matter how many battles he is sent off to fight and when he meets Alizeh, it muddies the situation even more.

The beginning moved a bit too slow for me. I know it’s because we are being introduced to the characters, the setting, the history of the Jinn and Clay people in this kingdom. The devil, Iblees, speaks to Alizeh in the beginning but we don’t really know why. She’s in hiding, that much is clear, but soon she is found by Kamran, who is the prince of Ardunia, and that causes a lot of problems. But for the first half of the book, nothing much happens except Alizeh getting hurt and running away and Kamran trying to find her and figure out if she’s a spy from another kingdom. The second half of the book moves much faster and there are a few twists and turns that was really exciting.

Why you should read it:

  • the romance is swoon worthy, it’s an enemies to lovers/forbidden love type of deal but definitely with instant attraction – now I’m not sure how the sequel will go and if this could possibly be a love triangle? not sure…but Alizeh and Kamran are electric together
  • Persian mythology, Jinn, Iblees, magic
  • cinderella vibes

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s the same trope: special girl, prince who is miserable with his life, theirs is a forbidden kind of attraction – if you aren’t into those tropes, this won’t be for you
  • slow beginning

My Thoughts:

This was more of a 3.5 star read for me but the ending bumped it up to a 4. The beginning was slow but it does pick up and the second half has action. I definitely want to read book two because of that ending. I do hope Alizeh meets a female character she can trust and befriend in the next book because friendly females were lacking in this story. If you want a story like Cinderella but with Persian mythology, Jinns, magic, romance, and a dragon….then you will enjoy this one.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

I haven’t the slightest idea what we’re doing,” he said softly. “Though if you mean to take me captive, you need only ask. I would come willingly.”

― Tahereh Mafi, This Woven Kingdom

You have consumed my thoughts since the moment I met you,” he said to her. “I feel now, in your presence, entirely strange. I think I might fetch you the moon if only to spare your tears again.”

― Tahereh Mafi, This Woven Kingdom

Blood Scion by. Deborah Falaye | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Blood Scion

Author: Deborah Falaye

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 3/8/22

Publisher: Harperteen

Categories: Young Adult, Dystopian, Military, Yoruba-Nigerian Mythology, Fantasy

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers. 

Content Warning: Death, Murder, Violence, Mentions of Rape, Genocide, Sexual Assault, Racism, Colonialism, Self-Harm

I was so excited to be able to borrow this book on Overdrive right away that I pushed all other books aside to read it. I was not disappointed.

First, the cover is what made me want it in the first place. I may need to buy the hardcover one day (add that to my list of all hardcovers I want to buy 😅). And the synopsis was definitely intriguing!

This story is BRUTAL. It gave me The Poppy War and Hunger Games vibes. Sloane wants answers about her mother who went missing a few years ago but the only place she could find it was in the enemy camp. The enemy is the Lucis, who came to their lands, colonized and brutalized her people, committing genocide on anyone who had magic in them, anyone who were Scions like her. Sloane has suppressed and ignored her fire powers all her life, to stay safe, except for times she couldn’t control it which led to deadly consequences. But now she has been drafted to become a Lucis soldier and has a way to find the Book of Records that could give her answers about her mom’s disappearance.

This story gives you no chance to look away from violence. There are kids killing kids, soldiers assaulting girls, soldiers killing people, training that is abusive, punishment that is gruesome and Sloane’s anger and pain resonates in her every action.

I love learning more about the Yoruba-Nigerian mythology and becoming more familiar with their god! I loved learning some of the rituals and chants and the different powers each gods extended to a Scion.

As for the characters – Sloane is 15, but I felt like she was older than that. She acts older and even has a moment with a soldier older than her…so I kind of wish she was 19 instead of 15. But I guess she had to be younger because the point of young people being recruited to be killers. She’s not someone who has experience with knowing her power but she meets other recruits like Izara who helps her. I loved her found family/friendship with Izara, Jericho and Nazanin. But some of Sloane’s decisions were questionable, which made me frustrated – she’s a morally grey character because war has made her that way.

There is action, there is betrayal and the information Sloane learns about her mother really makes me want to read the sequel ASAP. The ending was quite a reveal and I need her to get revenge. Sloane is a like a phoenix rising from ashes! It was quite a powerful ending.

One warning if you read this book: don’t get too attached to the characters. This author has no qualms about killing them off. 😭 Also the heavy topics of genocide and colonialism are throughout the story – the fact that they make teens train to be soldiers to kill their own people is horrendous. But I like how it shows how war is sick and how when you think you’ve gotten rid of the person who started the war…there is someone else waiting in the wings for their turn and their war. When does it end really?

Why you should read it:

  • it’s got Yoruba/Nigerian mythology
  • it’s got a heist, action, betrayal – it’s a fast paced story
  • writing flowed so well, easy to read and I read it in 2 days

Why you might not want to read it:

  • you are assaulted with brutality throughout the book – see content warnings above

My Thoughts:

I sped through this one because I wanted to see Sloane grow and see if she could be the one to help take down the royals. It’s a fast paced story and I found that refreshing because I’ve been reading a bunch of books that felt a little too long. I love the mythology and the found family Sloane makes. It’s an absolutely brutal read that starts and ends with violence. But taking down rulers is not that easy and Sloane learns a hard lesson about trust and betrayal. There is a lot more story to tell in the next book and I’m looking forward to reading it!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

My world is only half of what it should be, and I am only half of what I really am. I cannot afford to be whole.

― Deborah Falaye, Blood Scion

We are not helpless; we are not broken. Despite what scars they leave behind, our bodies are our own. Everything we feel, everything we are, belongs to us and us alone. Yes, we are girls, but we are not prey.

― Deborah Falaye, Blood Scion

This life, this world, it changes you.”

― Deborah Falaye, Blood Scion

“Children of war are born from war, Sloane. And we are, both of us, a legacy of this ruined world.”

Deborah Falaye, Blood Scion

Beasts of Prey by. Ayana Gray | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Beasts of Prey

Author: Ayana Gray

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 496

Publication Date: 9/28/21

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, Magic

Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome and magical creatures to pay off her family’s debts and secure their eventual freedom. But the night her loved ones’ own safety is threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand–and the consequences are dire.

As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six–an elite warrior–and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, a fire upends his plans. In its midst, Ekon not only encounters the Shetani–a vicious monster that has plagued the city and his nightmares for nearly a century–but a curious girl who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior.

Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani down and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani and selling it for a profit could be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon–each keeping their true motives secret from the other–form a tentative alliance and enter into the unknowns of the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

Content Warning: Death, Drug Use, Violence

I finally got to read this book which I saw everywhere in 2021. I love the cover!

The beginning was a bit slow as the story is being set up and the characters are introduced. Koffi is with her mom and they work for Baaz in the Night Zoo. The Night Zoo houses rare, scary beasts. Koffi and her mom are indebted to Baaz and have been working hard to be free from him. Ekon is a young man who is close to becoming initiated as one of the Son of Six but his ceremony is interrupted and he falls short of his goal. He is close to his brother and they both lost their father years ago to a beast called the Shetani. Adiah is training to be a daraja because she can already manifest splendor (magic).

I liked Koffi and Ekon the more I got into the story. They both have their own struggles. When they get together they are always bickering but I thought it was cute and funny and of course you could tell there was some growing affection between them. They agree to work together to find the Shetani, which is a monster that has been supposedly killing and terrorizing the people in the city. Koffi wants to find it so she can barter it to the Night Zoo owner in exchange for her mother and Jabri, a boy who is like a brother to her. But Ekon wants to kill the Shetani to prove to the Sons of the Six that he is worthy to be part of their group. Both journey together into The Greater Jungle and encounter other vicious creatures which brings on the action, which is my favorite part of the story. I actually wish the part in the jungle was longer.

I enjoyed the mythology and learning about the gods and the splendor (magic). The reveals at the end were good and sets up the sequel.

As I mentioned earlier, the beginning was a little slow for me maybe because there are multiple perspectives. Adiah is an important character who gets introduced right away. She starts off the story but her role is a bit of a mystery and we only learn how she ties into the story later. So for awhile I couldn’t connect to her and was more interested in Koffi and Ekon’s perspectives.

Why you should read it:

  • there is magic, scary beasts, mythology and a jungle
  • Pan-African fantasy
  • lots of action and full of adventure

Why you might not want to read it:

  • beginning is a little slow
  • would appeal to teen readers more

My Thoughts:

I can see why this book was optioned for a movie because it has all the elements that would make it good on screen: mythology, magic, scary beasts, a jungle, adventure, and characters that play off one another very well. I can definitely see Koffi and Ekon in action and encountering wild beasts – it would make for an exciting show! Overall I enjoyed the story once I got past the slower parts and I look forward to see what happens next.

📚 ~ Yolanda

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by. Holly Black | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)

Author: Holly Black

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 200 pages

Publication Date: 11/24/20

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Categories: Series, Illustrated, Novella, Fantasy, Young Adult

An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame.

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . Revealing a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan, his tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.

This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

Content Warning: Abuse

I’ve been wanting a copy of this for awhile. I don’t have the physical copy (will have to get it for my collection) but I did borrow the ebook and it was exactly as I expected it would be. The story brings us back to Elfhame but we get to know Cardan much better. We get a glimpse into Cardan’s childhood and his relationship with Nicasia. And I absolutely adored all the scenes he has with Jude, with her as his Queen. They are seriously too cute together. I enjoyed this installment very much.

Why you should read it:

  • if you love The Folk of the Air series, this is a must read
  • it’s short, a quick read and has illustrations
  • the magical writing of Holly Black

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s too short and you may want more lol

My Thoughts:

I absolutely enjoyed this illustrated novella and need it on my shelf!

📚 ~ Yolanda

House of Sky and Breath by. Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 805

Publication Date: 2/15/22

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Categories: Series, Urban Fantasy, Adult, Fated-Mates

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it. 

Content Warning: Violence

I have finally read the book and whew…it’s a long one at 805 pages. I love the cover, this series has good covers so far.

Bryce and Hunt are solid in this sequel. There is no question about whether they are meant for each other, they are mates (I know SJM is all about fated mates). Nothing can come between them throughout this book and we see their relationship get to the next level. There are a bunch of spicy scenes between Bryce and Hunt with the signature mind and space altering sex that always happens in a SJM book. These two are ride or die, besties, lovers, partners forever and I’m glad about it but also I felt like okay now that we’ve established that, let’s move on in the story. 😅

The world building is as intricate as ever. This urban fantasy has everything in it: angels, demons, fae, shifters, wolves, mer, humans and everything in between. So I am impressed as ever with how vivid this world is.

The side characters have a big, big role in this book. I’m glad Ruhn had a chance to shine in this one. I think he was my favorite in the book. Ruhn is really trying to figure out who he is without his apart from his royal Fae status and I appreciated his struggle. Also, I was so into his growing relationship with the mysterious Agent Day – I was actually thinking it reminded me of like an online relationship 😆, it made me laugh a little when things got spicy! But I love Ruhn.

There are so many characters who got a spotlight: Tharion (the mer), Ithan (the wolf), Cormac (Fae Prince), Sofie and then some. And then some!!! There are sooo many characters and honestly I thought it was too many at one time. Cormac was okay-not very interesting, Tharion is to be determined…we shall see where his story goes and Ithan is that younger brother type role. Honestly by the middle of the book I was wondering why Bryce always surrounded by guys in this one? Where was the female friends I loved from book one?! Why was Fury and Juniper barely in this book? I was bummed about that. One of the reasons why I loved the first book was Bryce and her girlfriends. It’s almost at the end of the book when she longs for a female friend and finds a new one in Hypaxia, Ruhn’s fiance.

Speaking of fiance…this is a fated mates story which means…everyone is going to find a mate by the end of this series. 💯 That’s a lot of fated mates lol.

The story unfolds like a mystery with Tharion, being the main detective and then he drags Bryce and Hunt into the search . And for something so secret – it ended up being a whole group knowing the secrets! There is a LOT going on in this story and at one point when a character referred to Hunt as Athalar, I was like, who’s Athalar?! LMAO 🤣. I was like did someone new come into the conversation? I was so genuinely confused…that’s when I had to take a break on reading. Can’t they all just call him Hunt? Like everyone else was being called by their names except Hunt/Athalar/Orion. I have a hard enough time keeping the Princes of Hel straight – where is the character name list? I need one.

The beginning is good with Sofie and then it got slow and some parts was just boring. There was so much dialogue about mundane things at times. I was hoping for more urgency in finding this child with Thunderbird powers. That story fizzled out into something else…but that was the main engine of the story until Danika’s breadcrumbs started to lead them to something more sinister. I wanted more action, maybe less of everyone’s point of view. I could have done without the romance dramas of everyone involved, but I get that this is a romance heavy urban fantasy. The whole story was about finding information and making all the pieces fit into the puzzle. When there was action, it was good and there is a major twist at the ending. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it…I was like 😳😱.

I almost wish this was one of those series that gave each character a book because it seems like Ruhn deserves one, Tharion, Ithan, Ariadne too probably, and Hypaxia also. And I can’t forget the Hind and her backstory as well!

I did not read this in one sitting like I do with SJM books, it took me about 3 or 4 days. The writing is easy so at least it is easily devoured but like I said…there is so much going on.

Why you should read it:

  • you are an SJM fan and already invested in the series
  • Bryce and Hunt steamy scenes for those who were waiting for it lol
  • some really good twists, especially the ending

Why you might not want to read it:

  • long and wish it had more action
  • I think some characters need their own book to keep some of these installments shorter
  • you will either love or hate the ending

My Thoughts:

I thought I would have read this in one day, even with the 800 page count but if I thought book one was a 4 star read, for me, this was a 3 star read but the ending bumped it up a little. But I wish it didn’t take 700 pages for me to be wowed by the book lol…the ending is a shocker for sure, and I will definitely read book three to see how that goes. I hope it goes beautifully but I also have my worries about it as well. Overall, a pretty good sequel with detailed world building as usual and characters I came to care about but there were spots that were little too slow for me. I loved that Ruhn had more of a spotlight and of course this will definitely make Bryce/Hunt fans super happy…well, for the most part. 🤭 Looking forward to book three…hopefully we don’t have too long.

📚 ~ Yolanda