A Curse of Ash and Embers | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Curse of Ash & Embers

Author: Jo Spurrier

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 272

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: Voyager

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches

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

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

Thank you to Voyager and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC!

My Attention: it couldn’t hold my attention

World Building: Black Oak Cottage, witches and a mystery to uncover

Writing Style: atmospheric

Bringing the Heat: none

Crazy in Love: nope – not crazy

Creativity: magic, witches and monsters

Mood: mixed feelings

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Elodie is a strong and brave young woman who can take care of herself.

  • I enjoyed the story of Aleida and Gyssha, the witches of Black Oak Cottage. When Elodie meets Aleida, Black Oak Cottage isn’t in good condition. We learn about Gyssha’s demise and then more about the witches’ history but Aleida is pretty fierce.
  • The female characters in this book are strong. Elodie is a great character because she is literally just turned out from her home. Her step-father wants her gone and unfortunately her mother agrees it’s time for her to go. She’s a young woman, away from family and home. Elodie is smart, and isn’t afraid to ask questions. I liked her inquiring mind as she met different people like the wizard.
  • The writing is wonderful and atmospheric. There is action and danger to keep things somewhat exciting.
  • Unfortunately, I found myself bored at times reading this story because it moves slowly like a mystery.
  • Would have liked a little more romance, but that’s a personal thing for me because I love romance in my stories.

This book may have not captured my full attention but many people who read young adult fantasy will enjoy this story very much. It has witches, action, danger and a girl named Elodie who finds a new home in the most unexpected place.

The Ravens | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Ravens

Authors: Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Categories: Witchcraft, Magic, Young Adult, Sorority, Romance, Contemporary, Thriller

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

Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.

Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: Westerly College in Georgia

Writing Style: easy to read

Crazy in Love: some romance

Creativity: Sorority of witches

Triggers: violence, gore

My Takeaway: Don’t mess with a witch.

  • Love the diversity of these college witches, they come in all skin colors and races. The sisterhood between them shows even between Vivi and Scarlett who have a rough start with one another.
  • The story is fun and even creepy at times. Even though these witches don’t mess with black magic, there is a villain who does! The twist is something I guessed earlier in the story but I did like how it took to the next level creepy.
  • I enjoyed learning the history of Kappa Rho Nu. The witches being Tarot Card signs is different and it worked!
  • Scarlett is not as perfect as she seems! She has secrets and they catch up to her and her best friend Tiffany.
  • I like the ending when it gets super dark and creepy! Definitely gets me in the mood for Fall reading and Halloween. The story reminded me of The Craft (movie) and Sabrina (Netflix show).
  • Vivi was a little weak. She’s this girl dying get away from her tarot reading/fortune teller mother and a life of always moving around. I liked the reveal at the end explaining why her mom raised her that way but personality-wise, Vivi had strong magic and that’s it! I just wanted a little more from her.
  • The love triangle involved Scarlett, Vivi and Scarlett’s ex-Mason. It didn’t overtake the story, thank goodness.

This story made me want to rewatch the movie The Craft so bad! The Ravens is fun, creepy, witchy and we got sisters who have each other’s backs. It’s perfect for the Halloween Fall season.

🎃 ~ Yolanda

Kingdom of the Wicked | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 448

Publication Date: 10/27/20

Publisher: JIMMY Patterson

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Witchcraft, Family, Romance, Young Adult/New Adult, Demons

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

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

Thank you to JIMMY Patterson and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: engrossed

World Building: 19th century Sicily, there are practicing witches, there are hot Princes of Hell, scary demons, a murderer on the loose, and so much FOOD

Writing Style: a quick moving story, great dialogue

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥

Crazy in Love: slow burn in hell…ha!

Creativity: this whole story is dark and delicious

Mood: witchy 

Triggers: violence, gore, rituals, death

My Takeaway: Hooking up with a Prince of Hell might be a bad idea…but it sounds pretty hot.

  • Let’s start with aesthetics – the cover is to die for. A pre-Halloween publication date? A cover like that and this story has witches and demons? Come on! It is perfection.
  • Speaking of witches and demons…whew! Emilia and Vittoria are twins and have been learning witchcraft since they were born. Their Nonna is the one who taught them all the spells they know and how the Malgavi will return to collect on a blood debt. As far as these Princes from Hell, they are exactly as Nonna said they would be: Trouble.
  • The setting of Sicily is fantastic and made me crave all kinds of pasta and cheese ALL week. I felt like I was there, or I wished I was. I wanted to be eating at the Sea & Vine and tasting Nonna’s delicious meals.
  • This story is dark and doesn’t shy away from gore. Someone is murdering girls and ripping their hearts out of their chests! Ugh…but why? There is a mystery. Emilia and a hell prince named Wrath is trying to put the pieces together to find out who it is before another girl dies.
  • Wrath and Emilia’s growing relationship is an enemies to lovers romance- or should I say…we shall see if they ever become lovers? They are enemies but start working together. Their dialogue is fun since they drive each other crazy.
  • At times I thought this book was going into New Adult territory – it totally could with the hotness factor of the Princes and Emilia’s scandalous thoughts about one in particular haha.
  • I wanted this to be fast paced because of the danger at every corner that Emilia was being exposed to but at times, the mystery (and this is a personal thing for me – always happens with mysteries)…made it go a bit too slow for me at times.
  • There is a cliffhanger.

Kingdom of the Wicked is the perfect book to read for fall! It has danger, gore, hot Princes and food…so much good food. I loved the family and community bond Emilia has in her home town. I could feel the warmth of her Nonna’s love and glares! We get a little bit of everything in this story and it is quite entertaining. This book will put you in a very witchy mood.

💕 ~ Yolanda

The Midnight Lie | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: The Midnight Lie

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 358

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Gods, F/F Romance

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: interesting world or Ethin – there is a caste system, there is a wall that separates the wealthy and poor, but there is a mystery also…why is there no history about Ethin, Nirrim and Sid tries to find out.

Writing Style: beautiful, lyrical, delicious

Crazy in Love: slow burn 

Creativity: a place that doesn’t know it’s history? How is that possible – well the Gods are involved, that’s why

Triggers: violence, physical and emotional abuse, oppression

  • The writing is so delicious, I felt like I was eating this book up, word for word! It’s what kept me reading even though there are so many mysterious elements to this story – like the Elysium bird, Nirrim’s past, and Sid. The world of Ethin alone is mysterious.
  • The world-building was like peeling an onion layer by layer, very slowly. We are introduced to Ethin, a beautiful city but split into castes. There is the High Kith who live behind a wall in decadence, then the Middling and Half-Kith. The only thing about this is that we are limited to Ethin, though Sid is from beyond the sea…it made me want to learn more about the places around Ethin – but if Nirrim doesn’t know it’s history, then no one else does either – hence the limitation.
  • Nirrim is a complicated character. She is abused by her foster mom, Raven but she believes it’s love even when so many people tell her it isn’t. Also she has a male lover, not that she loves him – but she gives into him because she thinks it’s what she’s supposed to do. But when Sid comes along, everything about her life comes into question.
  • There is a running theme in this story, “It is as it is.” But when Sid asks Nirrim questions about Ethin, about it’s rules, or why there is no history, Nirrim starts becoming unsatisfied with the saying “It is as it is.” That’s when secrets about Nirrim’s life and Ethin are revealed.
  • Now the slow burn between Nirrim and Sid was so good because the flirtation, on Sid’s part was packing heat. From the moment they met, Sid in all her flirtatiousness, mystery and wild reputation was so enticing, how could Nirrim stay away?
  • A lot of the mystery gets revealed at the very end of the book – so finding out information was a bit frustrating because we get bits and pieces. Who is Sid and where is she from? Is she telling the truth? Who is Nirrim’s mother? What is Ethin’s secret? So many questions…some were answered, a few others I hope will be revealed in book two.
  • Raven, Nirrim’s foster mom abuses her and it’s awful when Nirrim believes it’s love. But is it realistic? Very. It’s the only “mom” she’s ever known, but wow – Raven was something else. Glad Nirrim stood up to her eventually.
  • I didn’t know this was somehow connected to the author’s previous work The Winner’s Trilogy which I read so long ago – I did not recognize any names at all if they were in The Midnight Lie haha. But I don’t think you need to read that trilogy to enjoy this book.

I devoured the lyrical writing of this story, though sometimes it was frustrating because I wanted more information about Nirrim, Sid and Ethin. I get it all by the end and then some! The story covers some hard topics like abusive relationships but Nirrim goes through quite a transformation from the start to the end of the book. I look forward to reading the next book in this series if just to enjoy the way this author puts sentences together.

💕 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR | Kingdom of Sea and Stone by. Mara Rutherford

Welcome to the blog tour for Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford!

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #2)

Author: Mara Rutherford

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 10/6/20

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | AppleBooks | Google Play

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Sibling Fiction

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

“A fabulous interweaving of fantasy, politics, and sisterhood – this unusual, tense tale will have you on the edge of your seat!” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce on Crown of Coral and Pearl

The Cruel Prince meets Ash Princess in this thrilling fantasy, the much-anticipated sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl.

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

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

My Attention: read in three days

World Building: In this sequel we get to venture into the land of the Galethians

Writing Style: easy to read, descriptive

Crazy in Love: definitely

Creativity: We learn more about magic in this sequel.

Triggers: blood magic, manipulation, violence

My Takeaway: You can be more than beautiful on the outside.

  • I liked that the story ventured to Galeth and we get to meet new characters like Roan and Adriel. I especially thought Roan was an intriguing character. Adriel brings more knowledge about magic and healing, so now Nor can actually learn something about her rapid healing abilities and about blood magic.
  • Zadie, Nor’s twin sister comes back into the story and it’s nice to get to know her a bit. She’s very much in love with Sam still and the book focuses on traveling to Galeth to find him.
  • Nor and Talin is very much in love still though the business of taking Ceren down interrupts their happy ever after. We get to meet Talin’s mother and sister in this book as well.
  • Nor’s personal journey on becoming more than just the most beautiful girl/wife in the world was the main message for me in this series. She wants to travel, she has skills as a healer, there is so much she wants to do and I thought it was noble of Talin to let her realize those dreams.
  • The beginning was a bit slow for me. This had more political intrigue between the kingdoms of Galeth, Ilara and Varenia. Prince Talin and his mom need people to join their fight to take the throne from Ceren so they have to work on convincing the Galethians.
  • Ceren doesn’t really show up a lot in this book. He’s still evil and want to keep his throne. We get glimpses of his childhood because he is bonded to Nor. But I felt the ending with him was anti-climatic.
  • Honestly, I thought Roan was going to change Nor’s mind about Talin! Haha…it would have made the story maybe a little more interesting. Talin was his usual princely self, but it seemed like for a moment there, there would be some problem in their relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed the first book more than book two because I was so amazed with Varenia. Also, Ceren’s character made the story so intriguing. In this sequel we get more of Nor and Talin’s romance, some new characters and much less Ceren. Ultimately, Nor’s journey from flawed beauty and a future as a perfect wife to a healer and adventurer has a great message. We are more than our beauty. This is a solid end to an enjoyable, and creative duology.

💕 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor.

https://www.mararutherford.com/

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns, #1)| Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns, #1)

Author: S.M. Gaither

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 512

Categories: Fantasy, New Adult, Magic, Gods, Enemies to Lovers

A Devastating Sickness 

For decades, the Kethran Empire has been plagued by a strange illness that leaches the very life and soul from its victims.

The Girl Who Survived 

Casia is one of the Fade-Marked—one of the few people who caught this sickness and lived. Why she lived is a mystery even to her and the outcast crew of mercenaries she calls her family. It also makes her an intriguing target for the young, enigmatic king-emperor, who claims he wants to work alongside her to find a cure. 

Unfortunately, working alongside him also means working with the handsome but infuriating captain of one of the most prestigious branches of the Kethran Army.

A Soldier With No Past 

This infuriating Captain Elander also has secrets: A past that Cas can’t seem to uncover, a powerful but strange brand of magic, and a deep distrust of the very monarch that he’s sworn to serve. She feels oddly drawn to him in spite of these things…

But can she really trust him?

The Fate of an Empire 

As the bodies pile up and strange monsters begin to wreak havoc throughout the realms, Cas and Elander will have to work together to protect their world whether they trust one another or not. Because one thing is clear: Something ancient and evil is stirring in the shadows of Kethra.

And the empire will not survive its full unleashing. 

But how can they save a world where nothing and no one is what they seem to be— including Cas herself? 

My Attention: read in one day

World Building: epic – the Kethran Empire is ruled by a King-Emperor who wants to eradicate people with magic, and there is a Fading Sickness infecting the kingdom and they have to find out the source of the illness

Writing Style: flowed very well

Crazy in Love: enemies to lovers 

Creativity: I enjoyed this world of magic and Gods

Triggers: violence, thieving, anxiety

My Takeaway: Definite Sarah J. Maas vibes and I’m here for it!

  • Love the cover and usually I’m wary about KU Fantasy ebooks because I find them way too short, I mean yes I love that the next installment usually comes out in 3 months but THIS one, is a nice lengthy 500+ which surprised me. I was reading it without knowing the page count and was wondering why it was taking me so long to read (not long…but usually I can devour these short book series in a few hours and usually can binge the whole series in one night). So I am impressed with this one!
  • There is Throne of Glass vibes all over this book BUT there are enough difference to make it exciting. Cas reminds me of Celaena (badass heroine, etc…) but I like that Cas is different enough with her bouts of severe anxiety and needing to take care of her foster mom, Asra. Cas has a fun crew of magic wielders around her, all with different personalities.
  • The world building is addictive: there is a Fading Sickness in the empire, and Cas is one of the few who has survived it. Why? I love the process of finding out why and that plot twist in the end. Total cliffhanger!
  • Enemies to lovers, which is my fave – Elander is dark, blessed by a Death God, and their banter was fun. He was mysterious and she is reckless which makes them a hot combo. And yes there is a sex scene, they need more haha but…we shall see what happens between them!
  • This story was a fun ride, with villains, secrets, fights, danger, Gods – so much to digest but it’s an exciting start to the series.
  • There are a lot of things to discover yet, like Darkhand’s role in the beginning and then he disappeared. I’m sure the story will come back to that but he kind of was introduced and then forgotten.
  • Varen the king-emperor…oh boy, so what will happen now that the truth has been revealed?
  • And Elander…just give me more of him and Cas, and I’ll be happy!

This is the first book I’ve read from S.M. Gaither and I know it won’t be the last. I’ll have to binge her previous series! If you like stories like the Throne of Glass series, you will enjoy The Song of the Marked. I know I’m ready for book two to arrive but I have to wait until January! I was craving a fantasy with an enemies to lovers romance, lots of action and detailed world building and this totally hit the spot.

😍 ~ Yolanda

Daughters of Jubilation | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Daughters of Jubilation

Author: Kara Lee Corthron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 10/13/20

Publisher: Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers

Categories: Racism, Magic, Sexual Abuse, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Jim Crow South

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

In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.

On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…

And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.

Thank you to Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: very intrigued

World Building: Jim Crow, South Carolina while Kennedy is President

Writing Style: it flowed well

Bringing the Heat:  🔥🔥

Crazy in Love: Clay and Evvie are definitely in love 

Creativity: I enjoyed learning the magic of Jubilation

Mood: bittersweet

Triggers: rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, violence, racism, n-word, stalking, murder

My Takeaway: Take back your power when someone steals it from you!

  • The book takes place in Jim Crow South Carolina so the writer gives it the distinct accents and sayings from that area.  You can feel change is in the air with JFK as president, but some are skeptical, and others are hopeful that change may or may not happen.  
  • I liked the concept of jubilation as being magic that black women have passed down in their families because it was magic for protection.  Jubilation was used to counter some of the horrors of slavery that black women experienced and like Clay’s grandmother says, she didn’t realize they would still need to use jubilation today.  
  • Evalene and Clay’s relationship isn’t insta-love though their sex scene seems quite instant.  She crushed on him for a long time and he finally notices her and things go fast.  But then as their relationship grows, they take time to date and so it slows down which is nice, because then we get to know both of them well.  They are obviously crazy about each other.
  • Indigo, Evvie’s mom, gives her the talk about using protection without shying away from the topic.  Go mom!
  • Evalene is an interesting character – she’s at times impulsive and because she’s so new with her power, sometimes can’t control it.  But she learns how to do it with help from her eccentric grandmother and she needs it to help battle a demon from her past. 
  • I don’t mind cursing in books but if you don’t like cursing, then this book might not be for you because it has a lot of it.
  • Evalene has a dark past and it is traumatic.  The ending is very sad and bittersweet.

Daughter of Jubilation is a story about battling demons from the past. Jubilation is a gift of magic, born in a time of slavery to help black women deal with the horrors happening in their lives. Now Evalene has inherited this magic to face a stalker that hurt her a long time ago but she can’t do it alone. Evvie uses her jubilation to try and protect the people she loves and to break free from the past.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Incendiary | Book Review

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: Incendiary (Hollow Crown, #1)

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Categories: Magic, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

My Attention: read in 3 days

World Building: epic world building inspired by Spanish Inquisition era

Writing Style: flowed nicely, story slowed down a bit in the middle

Crazy in Love: so in love 

Creativity: Moira people have magic, Whispers are the Moira rebels fighting the king of Puerto Leones

Triggers: grief, violence, death, torture

My Takeaway: Who can you really trust?

  • That cover is pretty amazing!
  • I liked learning about the world of the Moira, people with different magic. Renata is a Robari, she can take memories and even do it to the extent to kill or “hollow” out a person. Other magics include persuasion, illusions and reading minds. The Moira have been pushed out of their homes and they are being hunted by the King of Puerto Leones. Now the king has a weapon that would ensure the destruction of the Moira for good.
  • Renata is a Robari so a lot of what her character does is taking memories and examining them. But her past is a mystery to her – she remembers some things, but not everything. This is a weakness for her. She’s a fighter, she’s tough and brave, but because she can’t fully face the memories of her past, there are things she misses and it causes her to make some mistakes. I thought it was fascinating to watch her deal with feeling like an outcast with both the rebels and being in the palace.
  • There are some twists and turns in this story that was like putting together a puzzle. But I could only really piece them together through Ren taking memories. It definitely drew an unexpected picture of evil Prince Castian!
  • This story is dark – I mean the Spanish Inquisition, with all that torture? 😒
  • The story starts off fast, with action but it dies off somewhere in the middle. Then picks up again to finish strong. I think what was missing for me was Prince Caspian making a real appearance throughout the book. He is there at the beginning and the end, the middle felt like a mystery and slow…I just wished he was there throughout the whole thing, just to give Ren someone to battle.
  • The beginning starts off with no world building, you get thrown into the story with a lot of action – so I did have to get my bearings.
  • So that cliffhanger ending…what the heck is going to happen in book two?!

This story grew on me. I found the world building interesting, even though the rebels with magic versus the king who hated magic trope is pretty similar to many young adult fantasy books out there. I think the Spanish Inquisition inspiration makes it stand out. Renata with her missing memories and taking memories is a fascinating character, and so is Prince Castian who we still don’t really know much about! And yes, I will be reading book two because that ending was pretty crazy.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Shielded | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Shielded

Author: KayLynn Flanders

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 352

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: kingdoms at war with one another, a marriage will bring them together

Writing Style: easy to read

Crazy in Love: slow burn

Creativity: I’ve read many of these stories before

Triggers: violence, death

My Takeaway: Keep moving forward.

  • I love the cover!
  • Creativity wise – I’ve read this story many times before. I did enjoy the story telling though. I liked Jenna’s connection to her family, especially her brother Ren.
  • Jennasara our MC has lived quite a sheltered life. She faces a bunch of challenges when she ventures outside of Halendi to meet her betrothed. We see her grow as she experiences the world outside of Halendi.
  • I thought the romance was cute and didn’t take over the story which was nice! Enzo, the Prince, is a nice guy, nothing problematic there.
  • I think this is a wonderful book for teens and young adults alike. It doesn’t have too much angst and the focus on Jenna finding her way in a different land, without family, after a traumatic experience is inspiring.
  • The villains didn’t stand out as big bad guys. They were bad but almost comical – one guy was gray…and his name is Graymere. And at times it got confusing trying to follow the story when a chapter from the villain’s perspective would appear. I didn’t know it was the villain at first!
  • Pacing wise, I think the beginning was a bit slow because Jenna is traveling but it definitely picks up once she she reaches the Wild and Turia. From them on I was engaged in the story.

This book is an enjoyable young adult fantasy that is easy to read. The story follows a princess who has to stop the villain that has hurt the people she loves the most. Jenna finds strength, friendship, family and love in the most challenging time in her life. Though it may sound similar to many other young adult fantasy book out there I still enjoyed it very much. The message to stay strong and keep going will resonate with many readers out there.

💕 ~Yolanda

The Hunter and the Mage | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove, #2)

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 525

Publication Date: 9/21/20

Publisher: Kaitlyn Davis

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

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

A mage written in prophecy… 

When Lyana wakes in the Sea of Mist, adventure is the first thing on her mind. But between her unruly new magic and an unyielding young king, the world below comes with more responsibility than she ever dreamed. An entire civilization exists within the fog, and its survival depends entirely on her. 

A hunter forged in blood… 

Adrift at sea on a ship full of strangers, Rafe fights to cope with his new reality. He’ll do anything to return to the sky and the people he left behind. When a surprising offer comes his way, he instantly accepts, sparing no time to consider the consequences. 

Loyalties are tested and an ancient war begins anew… 

With rebellion in her heart, Cassi defies her king and befriends the prince she’s been ordered to kill. Oblivious to the threat, Xander welcomes her into his inner circle, determined to rescue his mate. As one works to help and the other to hinder, an ancient enemy stirs, forcing Cassi to choose between trusting the man who broke her heart and turning her back on everything she’s ever known.

Thank you to Kaitlyn Davis for giving me a chance to read a copy of this book for an honest review.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: intrigue by the world in the mist

World Building: love the world building of these two worlds separated by mist and lore…but two different versions

Writing Style: easy to digest, flows nicely

Bringing the Heat: 🔥

Crazy in Love: Rafe and Lyana will always be…but the other couple? We shall see… 

Creativity: I enjoyed learning more about this world of magic and winged people

Mood: curious  

Triggers: violence, betrayal

My Takeaway: Forgiveness.

  • We get more of Xander and Cassi. Yes I wanted more of Cassi and honestly, but wow…Cassi. Oh Cassi. She fascinated me in book one, especially after that cliffhanger ending. I wanted to know her motivations and how far she would go…and how she could put aside her love and friendship with Lyana. She almost went too far for her to be redeemed in my eyes…but Lyana has a bigger heart than I do!
  • The world building is as lush as ever. I love this innovative story of bird people, it’s so different.
  • Since this is mostly Xander and Cassi’s story, we get a few chapters on Rafe and Lyana. They are going through their own challenges and hardships but it’s a trial they have to go through.
  • The twist was unexpected! It came at the end and made me wish book three was out.
  • The are many perspectives in the story and this time around for some reason there were times I felt like I was zoning out of the story. There is Xander, Cassi, Rafe, Lyana, Malek and even Brighty (a new character), gets a chapter. So there was a lot going on.
  • This is a light fantasy and for me the second half of the book was better than the first half because it had so much more action with people finally coming together after being apart for most of the book.
  • Malek is an interesting character because he’s training Lyana to use her real magic and comes off as maybe someone who isn’t conniving and scheming – he even made me forget for a moment that he sent Cassi to infiltrate Lyana’s world. But he really is a villain…ugh…

There is a lot to like in this sequel, especially if you were waiting for Xander and Cassi to get some page time. You get it in this book! We get to venture into the mist with Rafe and Lyana. Also, we get to learn more about Malek. It makes me wonder what book three will be like…what will Malek do? How will everyone react to Lyana and Rafe? Will Cassi ever find happiness? And will Brighty’s role be in all of this?! So many more questions to answer and I look forward to reading book three.

💕 ~ Yolanda

The author, Kaitlyn Davis is having a giveaway! Go to this link to check out the details:

https://www.kaitlyndavisbooks.com/p/pre-order-giveaway.html