ARC Review | Lady Hotspur

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Lady Hotspur

Author: Tessa Gratton

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 592

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Categories: Adult Fantasy, LGBTIA+, Shakespeare Henry IV Retelling, Romance, Political Intrigue

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

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IVLady Hotspur continues the saga of Innis Lear, centuries later, as revolution, love, and a betrayal corrupt the descendants of two warring kingdoms.

Hal was once a knight, carefree and joyous, sworn to protect her future queen Banna Mora. But after a rebellion led by her own mother, Caleda, Hal is now the prince of Lionis, heir to the throne. The pressure of her crown and bloody memories of war plague her, as well as a need to shape her own destiny, no matter the cost.

Lady Hotspur, known as the Wolf of Aremoria for her temper and warcraft, never expected to be more than a weapon. She certainly never expected to fall in love with the fiery Hal or be blindsided by an angry Queen’s promise to remake the whole world in her own image—a plan Hotspur knows will lead to tragedy.

Banna Mora kept her life, but not her throne. Fleeing to Innis Lear to heal her heart and plot revenge, the stars and roots of Innis Lear will teach her that the only way to survive a burning world is to learn to breathe fire.

These three women, together or apart, are the ones who have the power to bring the once-powerful Aremoria back to life—or destroy it forever.

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

Did I request this book based on the cover? Uh, definite yes. I love the cover and the book blurb caught my interest too. Now, this is a companion novel to Tessa Gratton’s book, The Queens of Innis Lear which I never read. The book summary also says this is a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which I never read also.

It took me a week to read this book. A week! Each time I read it, I was like, I’m only at 10%? Are you kidding me? So when I searched the title on Goodreads and saw it was a 592 page book, it made sense why I felt like I was getting nowhere in this story.

The story is told through three main perspectives: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora. These three were a tight crew of Lady Knights who fought under King Rovassos until they rebelled and helped put Hal’s mother, the kings niece, on the throne. The first half of this story is set in Aremoria. The second half of this story takes place in Innis Lear and there we have a chapters from Rowan and Connelly. Later on we get a few other chapter perspectives from Charm.

This is a gender bent story where Dukes, Earls, Princes, and Kings are female. The story is centered around Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora as they try to decide who is the true ruler of Aremoria and if the prophecies about these three women will come true.

  • The gender bending aspect is awesome. Kings in Aremoria can be female. The women in Aremoria, especially the Lady Knights are bad ass soldiers, they love to fight, took pride in their leadership (well Hal had some issues) and fighting skills!
  • My heart is in Innis Lear. Aremoria felt like a regular kingdom, nothing special, but Innis Lear and it’s magic? I was immersed in that world. I liked when Hal, Hotspur, and Banna Mora who are battle ready soldiers, step into this magical land and start hearing nature all around them. Innis Lear has witches, wizards, prophecies, and ghosts even! The world building was fantastic.
  • This book is female infused all around, from the passionate lesbian relationship between Hal and Hotspur and yes there is sex in this book, lots of it actually. Hal and Hotspur’s relationship burns so fast and hard that it’s sad when it falls apart, but Hal had some issues to work through.
  • Out of all three women: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora – Banna Mora’s story kept my attention more maybe because she blossoms on Innis Lear. Hal’s story arc has the most change in it though because she’s the life of the party but she hides behind her charming smile. Hal doesn’t believe in herself and she’s suffering from PTSD and drowns in her misery until she turns things around. As for Hotspur, she is the one in the middle of the two and must make some hard choices.
  • This book is long at almost 600 pages and the pacing constantly threw me off. It would be slow (the beginning) and then I’d be interested in a character, but then the perspective would change, then I’d lose interested again, and I’d put it down. It took me a week to read this! I almost gave up on it. The writing also would be rushed and abrupt and then it would be beautiful especially when it came to describing Innis Lear. I just felt like it didn’t flow well in some parts.
  • Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora had to make political marriages…to men. Sigh…so I was all about the lesbian, feminist take of this book and then they had to have sex with men and I was like…🤷🏻‍♀️. REALLY? Banna Mora had Rowan so I mean, go her…but Hal and Hotspur who are so in love had to do their royal duties. 😒 Obviously it’s royal politics and things work out in the end though, but still.
  • I wasn’t attached to any character. The trio of Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora is a great dynamic, two opposing characters and one in the middle who will decide the fate of everyone. But I wasn’t attached to any of them. I was team Banna Mora though if I had to pick a side. But what made them good friends? Because they were knights together? Maybe more backstory of when they were knights together would have been good to set the foundation for their story.

This book wasn’t for me, there were parts I enjoyed, especially when the story was set in Innis Lear. The world building of Innis Lear is amazing, it’s what kept me reading the story and makes me consider reading The Queens of Innis Lear. This book will not be for everyone but it did have some bright spots in it. The story has prophecy, strong women, a lesbian love story and a straight one too. But for me it was all about the magic of Innis Lear, the rest of the story fell flat for me.

ARC Review | Scared Little Rabbits

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Scared Little Rabbits

Author: A.V. Geiger

Format: eBooks (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Categories: Technology, Augmented Reality, Romance, Young Adult, Suspense

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

We stand in a tight cluster, high above the lake. One-by-one, we made our way up the narrow trail from the edge of campus. Now, we wait shoulder to shoulder behind the police tape. Nineteen summer students.
 
All but one.


When Nora gets accepted into her dream summer program at the prestigious Winthrop Academy, she jumps at the chance to put her coding skills to use. But then a fellow student goes missing—and the tech trail for the crime leads back to Nora. With no one else to trust, Nora must race to uncover the truth and clear her name…or she might be the next to disappear.

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

Nora is a sixteen year old, coder who is accepted to a three weeks long summer program at Winthrop Academy. She’s a bit awkward in social situations and has trouble making friends. Nora has downloaded an app called InstaLove which is supposed to hook her up with someone special. Right away she runs into a fellow InstaLove player, Maddox, at Winthrop that she categorizes him as an InstaCrush in the game. But all is not what it seems at Winthrop and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Is Maddox really into her? Or is he still with his ex-girlfriend Eleanor who basically rules the school (but I mean, her parents own it)? Is Nora just a Scared Little Rabbit?

  • The story starts off with a mysterious incident which gives it a slightly dark vibe. We get a dual perspective from Nora and Maddox but also journal entries from Eleanor (Maddox’s ex). I was mistrustful of Maddox, and everyone else that Nora encountered at Winthrop Academy. I definitely enjoyed the suspense. The reveal in the end included lots of action, so that was my favorite part of the book.
  • The coding and technology information in this book is pretty legit. I think it’s fascinating that the story revolved around a dating app that uses augmented reality. As a mild gamer (like SO mild, my son and hubby are the gamers), and one who tried Pokemon Go (not my thing), having a dating app like that kind of scares me but can I see that being a reality for my kids, in their future? Oh for sure! My son’s VR games make me dizzy, so I don’t think I’d be someone who would want to wear a visor all the time to check out some potential hookup haha. But I can see the appeal for future generations I suppose. It’s obvious the author knows her coding and tech knowledge. 👏🏼
  • I liked seeing these characters, a lot of them girls 🙌🏼, so adept and confident at their coding skills. These girls at this summer program are smart, techy, innovative, okay most of them were mean girls or just weren’t nice to Nora (which sucked) but I do like that these girls were good at what they do. Maddox also was good looking AND smart, so that was good.
  • I guess it was obvious in the first chapters that this was going to be an insta-love story when it introduced Nora playing a game called InstaLove! 😂 So…if you aren’t into books with insta-love, this book is clearly one to stay clear of. It’s a three week summer program but Nora falls fast and hard for Maddox so fast. I felt bad for her at times, because clearly his situation was “complicated” with his ex-girlfriend who was Queen Bee on campus. That being said, I thought okay…it’s a crush, she’s sixteen, but…she was in LOVE and telling her parents that she needed to BE with Maddox and he was coming to visit her by the end of the story. 😳
  • Speaking of the ending…I thought it was abrupt. We barely get to know anyone’s parents in this book, but all of a sudden there is Nora and her mom having a scene at the end! It felt awkward.
  • Nora’s nickname given by the girls in the summer program got of my nerves. I understand it’s a “mean girls” type of story, but seriously, having them call her Lowercase, including Maddox, like really? That’s the guy who falling hard for? No. 🙄

Overall, I thought the story was fairly enjoyable especially when it came to the suspense and mystery aspect but it fell short for me in the romance department since I didn’t feel like Nora and Maddox’s connection was that deep. If you like a suspense story about technology and don’t mind some insta-love, then you might enjoy this one.

ARC Review | The Wickerlight

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

Author: Mary Watson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG TOUR } Day Zero by. Kelly deVos

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Day Zero

Author: Kelly deVos

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

Category: Dystopian, Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense

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

Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for giving me a chance to read this eARC and inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

Jinx is living during the New Depression. An election recently took place and The Opposition leader, Ammon Carver, won the vote for president. It doesn’t seem like many people in Jinx’s life and in society approved of this choice, most were vying for the leader of The Spark, David Rosenthal, and there are rumors that the election was rigged – does that sound strangely familiar? 🤔 But not only that, they say Jinx’s dad is a major part of the chaos taking place. Jinx’s dad is Dr. Doomsday, a computer science professor and hacker who at one time created a worm that took down servers around the world. Her dad is also known for writing a survival guide book, which people laughed it, but maybe he knew something was coming.

When that “something coming” actually happens, and Jinx’s step-dad is accused of being the person behind it she and her family have to use Dr. Doomsday’s Guide to Ultimate Survival to actually survive life on the run. Will they succeed?

  • Everything I liked in this book was mostly in the beginning and the end. I liked the build-up of the story. We get a history lesson about this war brewing between The Opposition and The Spark, which sounds way too familiar to our current events right now. The tension between these two sides is very believable. A bombing event occurs and Jinx’s step-dad is the main suspect so Jinx and her family go on the run.
  • Jinx as a character really interesting. She’s a coder and loves video games and that’s all she really wants to do is play her video games. Her family is a bit broken. She has step-siblings, and she’s never on the same page with her step-sister. Jinx’s mother seems…cold. And her dad is nowhere around or not easily found So she is the main caretaker of her diabetic younger brother Charles. She has to do things in this story to keep her whole family alive by using the drills her father made her do from his survival guide. Jinx is a tough, smart girl and she is pushed to do things in this story to survive.
  • If you like dystopian stories, you will definitely like this one. It involves technology and coding. Jinx’s dad, Dr. Marshall, is well known for his computer theories, but he was very mysterious and elusive in this book. Jinx is trying to find him and I was like, what is with this guy? Help your kids! But of course, there’s more to it than that. There are some twists in this story that was really good and kept me on my toes.
  • The world building was good because it’s so close to our own, it’s something I can see happening with the collapse of banks, or how there is a sugar sale permit waiting list…that scares me. 😂 I was like, oh no, how would I get my sugary coffee drink if that happened?! But the whole world hasn’t collapse yet, there are still stores, it was supposed to be a booming town until the New Depression hit, so this world seems like something that could happen to us in the near future! 😱
  • I don’t know why but I lost interest in the middle of the story. Maybe it was moving too fast for me? It was definitely my mood though – it was a tiring week for me, so it was just a personal mood of mine and not anything against the story.
  • There is a relationship growing between Jinx and Navarro (the guy who was sent by Jinx’s dad to keep an eye on her) but I don’t know if it was needed. It’s not something I would miss if it wasn’t in the story.
  • Triggers: violence, bombing

If you like a fast-paced survival, dystopian story, you will like this one! It has lots of action, adventure, a family on the run, and twists that will surprise you.

BLOG TOUR } The Princess Plan by. Julia London

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Princess Plan

Author: Julia London

Format: eBook (NetGalley/Harlequin)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Categories: Historical Romance, Adult Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIO:

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

www.julialondon.com/newsletter

 www.facebook.com/julialondon

 www.twitter.com/juliaflondon

 www.instagram.com/julia_f_london

ARC Review | The Guinevere Deception

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

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

Author: Kiersten White

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Categories: Fantasy, Camelot, Young Adult, Arthurian Legend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review | Unnatural Magic

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Unnatural Magic

Author: C.M. Waggoner

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Categories: Fantasy, Mystery, Adult Fiction, Romance

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

Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.

Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…

Thank you to ACE and Netgalley for giving me an opportunity to read this eARC.

My reason for requesting this on NetGalley was first and foremost the cover. I love it and then the synopsis mentioned magic and trolls? Well it definitely piqued my curiosity!

But when I started this book I thought maybe I had made a mistake and I wasn’t sure I would be interested in even finishing this book. I thought okay, a girl who is trying to get into a school with mostly boys…nothing new there. I put it aside for a few weeks and finally came back to it and wow, I did not stop! Though this story starts off with a teenage girl named Onna – this is not a young adult novel. It has cursing and lots of sexual themes exploring a romance between a troll and a human male. Yes there is troll sex. 😲

There are two main characters in this story. Onna, is a seventeen year old genius wizard and it’s rare for a girl to exhibit these traits. She is trying to get into a school to further her studies but her gender works against her, no matter how smart she is. Tsira is a troll, who is half human, but in her troll community she is too small, and not considered good looking among her people. She leaves her clan to make her own living, earning her own money but Tsira is also conflicted with her cultural rules about begetting a clan.

Though their paths and lives are different there is one thing Onna and Tsira have in common, they are trying to figure out who is the serial killer on the loose targeting trolls.

The world building in Unnatural Magic is so unique! I love how smart Onna is even though at times I didn’t understand parameter spells – it’s basically complicated math, enough said on that. She’s smart! She thinks out of the box and Onna doesn’t give up, which I love about her.

The most fascinating part of the story has to be about the trolls. It was so interesting to learn about their customer and way of life. Females (and some with male parts) ruled the clans! Tsira’s vahn (which I didn’t totally understand right away), vahn being her “wife” but a male wife – in her case, a human male, was totally the submissive one in the relationship. Tsira and Jeckran’s romance is different and unconventional – Tsira is very masculine, and 10 feet tall! So just trying to imagine how they managed to do the deed was…interesting! 🤔 But hey they managed it! Anyway there is a lot to learn about troll life. I was learning along with Jeckran (Tsira’s vahn). In this world for the most part trolls and humans lived together side by side peacefully until the murders occur. Then we start to see how some humans resent trolls and their magic.

There are other colorful characters in this story, one of my favorites being the Lord Mage, Loga, of Hexos. Onna becomes his apprentice and he is quite humorous and flamboyant, I enjoyed his fun personality!

As for the mystery of the troll murderer, I did have my suspicions and I was right. Onna, Loga, Tsira and Jeckran made a great team together hunting down the killer. This book really had a bit of everything and it pushed my imagination in ways I didn’t expect! It has a happily ever after ending as well but also leaves me wondering what will happen to these characters? Will Tsira and Jeckran be okay? The author did a great job of making me care for these characters. 💕

This is a fantastic debut and I hope to read more from this author! Unnatural Magic is an unforgettable fantasy story full of complicated magic, humor, adventure, mystery and romance.