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Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones





Ya'll I did it.  I've been doing so many book tours and author requests lately that my own TBR pile has sat untouched.  I finally...finally read a book I had been waiting to read.

I recieved this book from my Illumicrate subscription and I've just been looking at it longingly on my bookshelf until I managed to get all of my September deadlines out of the way. I feel so luck to have this signed special edition copy!


Synopsis:


Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing… but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.



Content Warnings: Kidnap, Torture, Death, Murder, Suicidal thoughts




Thoughts:

So many things unraveled through out this book it constantly kept me guessing, and the end itself really blew be away. I loved Mer...she was tough, but vulnerable...so relatable. The storytelling was so vivid that I caught myself turning the pages of the book quietly because the crew was sneaking..so of course I had to also be quiet so they didn't get caught. ­čść­čść

The Drowned Woods is a fantasy heist story with elements of Scottish lore, magic and complicated relationships. I've honestly never read a book like this before, it was so refreshingly original.


The corgi though was such an adorable addition and I love that the author used the dog to help the MC judge other people's character. If you didn't like dogs then you obviously couldn't be trusted. If you're a fantasy lover, looking for something completely different add this to your TBR. I haven't read The Bone Houses yet, but it's now on my radar. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

The Drowned Woods can be purchased on Amazon and Bookshop.



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Disclaimer: I purchased this book on my own and volunarily wrote this review. There are links to purchase the book included here in this post. By using these links you help support this blog. Thanks!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Queen and Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo




If you enjoy fantasy with a side of feminism and diverse main characters and a head strong female main character grab this book!

Synopsis:

Almira was raised by a calculating father who forged her in political cunning. She’s prepared for this moment since childhood. Like pieces on a board, she lays out the players one by one.

One. King Alton, the brother-killer. The spare heir who killed his brother for lust of throne.

Two. The perfect seamstress. The people must admire a queen and welcome her with open arms. Even with a deadly armada behind her.

Three. The Queen’s Red Guard. The group of warrior women who have one purpose; to protect the queen at all costs. Even from her husband. Even from herself.

Queen & Conqueror is the first book in an epic feminist fantasy series told from the perspective of the women who rule and shape the future.

“Men will never be ready for women like us and it is not our job to ready them.


Rating: 


 Trigger warnings: death, child abuse, sexual content


Thoughts:


I want to be Alimira when I grow up you guys. She is volunerable, and headstrong, she second guesses herself, and she's just so real. She not only surrounded herself with women, she uplifted them, and they sometimes checked her.  Like the truest friends will.


---Almira smiled and nodded. "Men will never be ready for women like us, and it is not our job to ready them."---


I love the elements fantasy tied in with feminism and diversity. This book was so refreshing. Almira was born in nobility, raised to lead by her father as his only living child. He makes sure she has the education and the tools to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. She forms her Queen's Guard..a group of completley badass women who are her armoured guards.


When her husband dies in a war, she divises a plan and submits a marriage proposal to the king who killed her husband. And ya'll...he accepts. His initial plan is not necessarily a kind one, but things slowly begin to warm up. They both are cautious about giving their hearts to each other...it was the SLOWEST of slow burns. So refreshing.

This book is filled with so many twists and turns and surprises. Of course I'm not going to tell you the juicy bits, but have tissues close by. Olmo really does a wonderful job pulling you into the characters and making you feel deeply connected to them.

If you enjoy a slow burn, or even an enemies to lovers with a side of strong women leads that is full of diversity then be sure to grab this book.


Queen and Conqueror can be purchased on Amazon.

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Darkening by Sunya Mara

 



Sometimes the library temps me...and ya'll I was not dissapointed.  I found this book scrolling at the bottom of my library's main page while trying to get books my son needed for school for the next few weeks. This is one book that had escaped my radar, so I want to scream it from the rooftops.  I couldn't set this one down. If you're looking for a fantasy novel that's unique and fast paced -- you'll want to pick this one up.

Synopsis:

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.


Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

My Rating!


Content Warnings: Death, Violence, Parent death




Thoughts:


This book grabbed me from the start. I couldn't set it down, and it was a quick easy read. The world was unique, and the world building was brilliant. I love that Vesper wasn't a perfect person...she made mistakes, like all of us. She constantly walks with guilt and feeling like she's dissapointed her Pa. She has good intentions, but often finds herself in trouble...even as she is trying to do the right thing. She feels that their current predicament is because she didn't listen to him, and wrecklessly tried to save people from the storm as it came in. Don't play hero he had told her..and instead he ended up having to come to their rescue.

As she went along and her distrust of the people around her was very relatable. Her Pa is taken into custody..which again she feels guilty for, but an opportunity to help is given. So instead of listening to her Pa and trying to lay low and stay unseen, she joins forces with Dalca, the prince who leads the Wardana...an elite group of warriors who protects their city from the Storm. Even our bad guys were morally grey, with stories of their own. I wasn't sure if I wanted to like them or not...and some of them I did. It was a really emotional ride.

If you're looking for a unique read that will likely make you cry be sure to grab this one.




You can purchase The Darkening by Sunya Mara on Amazon or on Bookshop.



Disclaimer: This review was done on my own accord. I recieved this book from my local library on loan. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!


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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Last Kamaali by Lori Holmes

 





Blurb:

Courage. Truth. Sacrifice.

Nyriaana and Juaan are no longer protected by the might of the Hunting Bear Clan. Alone and on the run, they need to choose their allies and enemies wisely if they are to evade the vengeful clutches of their former chief, Eldrax. But with nowhere to hide, can they truly run forever?

Tormented by visions of the fabled Last Kamaali, Nyriaana must now decide if she is ready to sacrifice everything in order to fulfil her ultimate destiny. In doing so, she may not only lose those she loves most, but unwittingly awaken ancient powers that will jeopardise the very existence of humanity.

In this final chapter of the Ancestors Saga, all races of men must decide once and for all what it truly means to be human.


My rating: 


Thoughts:

Wow...this book ya'll.  My only regret is starting with this book and not starting from the beginning, which I plan on correcting. First...this is a fantasy romance, but an absolutely unique world. It's primitive, with a side of magic, meddling gods, greedy clan leaders, witches, tribes...etc. Gorgeous storytelling, creating a beautiful picture of a harsh world. Get ready to fall in love with these characters.

We follow the story of Juaan and Nyriaana as they try to escape the leader of the Hunting Bear Clan,  Eldrax. Eldrax is a ruthless leader with high ambition to live the life of his choosing, and not to have to bow to gods or anyone else. Eldrax in the past has lifted his clan and protected them from other clans, but by killing a watcher has not only put his own clan in danger, but all of the clans.  

This book had me from the start, moving quickly while explaining some of the things I missed from the earlier books. It was an easy book to pick up and devour...but have your box of tissues nearby. I won't spoil it by telling you why...it was an emotional read.



You can purchase the Last Kamaali on Amazon.


Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!





Sunday, September 11, 2022

Fractured Legacy by Cristen J. Faulkenberry




Stop!! This is the second book of her Lenoir Legacy series...if you haven't read book 1 yet, I strongly suggest starting there.  You can read my review for book one here.


Blurb:

All Rosealyn LeNoir wants is to take her rightful place as Queen of Orda’an. Instead, she’s magically connected to her father’s murderer, the ancient and once Lost Prince, Xannan LeNoir. When she learns her country has been attacked, Rosealyn must set aside her disdain for Xannan and discover the best way to help her people.

Charles, as king of Jearnia, wishes to repair the rift between himself and his brother while also mending the decades-long rivalry between the country of his birth and the country which protected him.

Memories surface and tensions escalate as all learn how far they will go to protect what they value most.



My rating:



Thoughts:

Like the first book, this book was slow to get going. This particular time I really had to set reading goals to get through the initial story building section. If there is one thing that keeps this book from getting five stars it's the slow dry start. It is worth persevering though, and this book gets very exciting, but it's not until about chapter 12 or so.  So again, cozy up, get your tea, and dig in.

There's a broadening of many of the different storylines in the first book. The underlying romance between Charles and Rosealyn plays a bigger part in this book than it did in the second. They have lots to consider on whether both of them being ruling monarchs of their own countries makes it impossible for them to be together.  They end up working together to bring peace to the region, Charles coming to Rosealyn's aide when Orda'an is invaded by another country.  We get to know Xannan much more in this book, and we also get to know Rosealyn's mother.

We have political rifts, war, evil dragon like drokari, and an alliance between men, elves and dragons. This books very much reminds me a bit of Games of Thrones, not just in the shared genre, but the building of storylines and multiple storylines in one book that are connected. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I'll be keeping an eye out for book three!


Spice level: 1 consensual kissing, no sex



Fractured Legacy released September 9, 2022 and can be purchased on Amazon or on Bookshop.


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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon and bookshop, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Monday, September 5, 2022

Desires of the Immersed by Caelan J. Peters

 



Blurb:

Taylor was a rich, popular, yet completely normal teenage girl until the guy she’d fallen for shoved her off a hundred-foot waterfall. Instead of dying, she emerges into a completely different world where she’s immediately captured and thrown into a brutal training camp. Here she’s forced to face the realities of her forgotten past along with the still all too clear memories that are forming her present. Lucca finally returned his lost fianc├ę to their own world only to find a war threatening to destroy his entire home country. And his mother seems to think he’s the only one who can stop it. He’d never planned on leading the ground force, and he’d never planned to allow the woman he loved to wander a war-torn world alone. But he might not have a choice.


Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this book. By the time I was about half way through I couldn't set it down, and it became a life neglecting, sleep depriving, just one more chapter before I go to sleep type of book. That good. I truly didn't know who to root for in this book. Taylor was the main focus of the book, but who was the right person for her to trust? Was it Lucca? Cole? Dawn? Marcellous? The story slowly unravels, as we hop back in forth between the present and the past..almost Godfather 2 style. Sometimes the hop was a bit abrupt, as in I felt like I was pulled into another scene when I wanted to stay right where I was. It added to the suspense of the overall book though, and I think it was well done.

I don't know that I really liked Taylor at first, but I love when characters really come into their own. She is hardened by some pretty brutal training, but it's brutality has a purpose one that she learns to understand and eventually embraces.  The story ends with lots of questions still unanswered...not quite a cliff hanger, but I need answers. I can't wait to dig into book 2!!

Rating: 5 Stars!

Spice level: 1 -- no sex, just kissing.


Desires of the Immersed is available for purchase now.

If you're interested, Book 2: Orders of the Emboldened is also available for purchase. 

Book three is expected to release September, 2023


Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Blood and Potions by Maya Morrison

 





Blurb:



An assassin who lives for the hunt. A vampire that loves the chase. A job that went wrong, and a bite that changes everything.

It was supposed to be a simple job. Steal an artifact from a top-secret location, and gain intel about my sister’s killer. Instead, one false move lands me in the hands of the renowned vampire overlord, Quillian Kingsley.

Quillian is cold, callous, and notoriously ruthless with his enemies, especially those he believes wronged him. I was prepared for my death...until he tasted my blood.

After days of interrogation, we come to a mutual agreement, and I agree to his terms by swearing a Blood Oath. I stay in Esneoh to help hunt down his enemies and play the role of his doting wife. And in kind, he will help me find my sister’s killer.
The job should have been easy; however, with every new kill and pursuit, I find myself drawn to the dark, dangerous, and sinfully gorgeous overlord.

There is just one problem - all roads point to him as one of the main suspects. And in this game of power, secrets, and lust, neither of us might come out alive when the truth unveils itself. 





Thoughts:


First of all...this book is steamy! 


The book jumps right in, introducing Meraki as the strong resilient assassin that she is.  The world is beautifully laid out with out the gross info dump.  Meraki is independent and a well trained assassin and thief, living in a world that I can't possibly imagine. She feels she owes her life to the Alokari, the organization she works for. They have trained her for this life, and she is one of their best.  Her sister early on failed the test, and she spends her life looking for clues to kill who ever killed her. 


When she first meets Quillian in a club the attraction is immediate. She doesn't know his name, so he's Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome. On a job to finally get the necklace that should hold clues to her sister's murder, she runs into Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome again...they were both there to take the necklace. She later learns he's a vampire, and he's immune to most of the tricks she knows.  He's able to subdue her, and he kidnaps her to learn about why she was there, what she knows and who she works for.  


Fast forward we end up with a fake relationship trope, and it's done very well.  The physical relationship felt easy, but the two of them slowly figure out if there is anything to their fake marriage beyond amazing sex...which there's a ton of.  If you enjoy the fake relationship type trope, with a bit of an emotional slow burn with a side of alphamale possessiveness, you will like this book. Be warned, this book ends on a HUGE plot twist and a bit of a cliffhanger.


Rating: 4 stars

Steam level: 9/10 ---- hot hot hot


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Tabula Smaragdina by Natalia Wawrzyńczak

 



Blurb:

Laura doesn’t believe in magic. All she cares about is a college scholarship and making her deceased father’s dreams come true.

It all changes when mistaken for the long foretold warrior, she is kidnapped to Pravia, a parallel magical world inhabited by creatures that she knows only from mythology. Laura wants nothing more than to go back home, but the only way to do that is to defeat the evil queen that seized the throne by trickery.

Laura is soon embroiled in the local intrigues and deceptions of three political factions. She can’t avoid the enormous expectations that the creatures of Pravia impose on her. The only friend she has is a vampire, Bastien. As a member of the opposite faction, he is despised by all the other creatures. In the land where even spies have spies, Laura has to choose who to trust.

War is in the air, and the prophecy is clear about a great battle… But can you win a battle not being the chosen one?


Thoughts:

You guys, I really loved this book...but please aware, it is high fantasy. There are unicorns and elves, and dryads, and a dragon queen...and so much more, and it was all put together so well.  This book offers a beautiful escape from reality.  There is a touch of European mythologies thrown in there from many different parts of Europe, such as the Tabula Smaragdina, the names of two of the dragons being Morrigan and Dagda, Mimir being a healer,  and we even have a cameo from Idunn. I think it was a missed opportunity to incorporate them in a more traditional way because other than their names, as they did not represent their mythological namesakes. Overall, the writing is descriptive with out being overly so, painting a lovely picture of a beautiful world.

In the story we have a magical story of a young lady who has a serious case of imposter syndrome. She is even labeled the destiny thief. Many people believe she is the warrior of fire who came to save them all by defeating their dragon queen.  She is whisked away from her normal life as a college student and thrown into a world of magic that she is hardly welcomed in. When they realize she doesn't have any fighting skills, and is even a slow learning when it comes to swords everyone begins to doubt her. Feeling lonely and looking for any friendship, she is seduced by a vampire that may or may not really be her friend. And truly...she just wants to go home. This book played with my emotions and was not predictable at all. If you like high fantasy with lots of character development and twists and turns you will love Tabula Smaragdina by Natalia Wawrzy┼äczak.


Tabula Smaragdina is available for purchase on Amazon.


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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!


 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

 



Ya'll sometimes when a book re-releases they come off outdated, or just feeling old...not this book.  Read on!


Blurb:


They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't-or won't-understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.







Thoughts:

First of all....Ares.  





This is book six in Ione's Demonica Underworld Series, and book one in in her Horseman Series. This is the first book for me in this entire series, and Ione does a great job with world building and bringing me up to speed. You can easily start the series right here. This book was originally released in 2011, and was released this year again with an updated cover.  Being that this book is over a decade old, I felt that this book aged fairly well.

I really enjoyed this story of Cara and Ares.  Ares is a thousand's year old Horseman of the Apocalypse, who is desperately trying not to allow his seal to break.  If his seal breaks he becomes War, and will become evil bringing in his part of the apocalypse. Cara is down on her luck, her father recently passing away she is alone.  I really liked Cara in this story, she's a good natured person, loves animals and doesn't put up with Ares's crap. She stands her ground with him often which he doesn't know how to respond to since no one really does it. Ares struggles with allowing anyone to be close to him, but he softens towards Cara.  It's such a great story watching the two of them slowly open up to each other while navigating them possible impending doom of the apocalypse. 

If you enjoy fantasy romance with a slow burn type trope, you will enjoy Eternal Rider!

Rating: 4 stars
Spice Level: 7 -- descriptive consensual sex 





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!



Thursday, August 11, 2022

Darkrunner RIsing by A.J. Larke

 


Blurb:

Reylyn Hummel is the only half-elf in the village, and it doesn't make her popular.  Her only friends are the Infernal, Hellzebub, and his feathered minions. When the villagers go too far, Hellzebub helps her escape in exchange for helping him get his thrown in the Lower Planes back from his sister, the overly-ambitious Celestial, Tiaphima. This lands Reylyn in Timbercrest, where all the rules about elves, humans, and orcs and about good and evil are different.  Where even she can have friends and family. Where having friends and family will be more dangerous and more difficult than being the villain of her village.

Reviewer trigger warnings: Death, abandonment

Thoughts:

First this was a story about a child, but not necessarily a children's book. There were dark elements right from the beginning that I would caution reader digression. Reylyn is a vulnerable child dealing with the trauma of a parent leaving and being left with an unloving father.  She is teased in her village by the village children because she is different, and the only kindness shown to her is by a infernal (think demon) Hellzebub...who she's adorably nick-named Bubby. 

Hellzebub gives her the power of fire, and before leaving her town for good she accidentally kills ALOT of people. I think this weighs heavily on Reylyn but being a child she's probably not sure to how to process this...I hope that the author works through this with her in future books.

When she gets to the new town Reylyn is shown kindness and acceptance and she really isn't sure what to do with it.  Hellzebub encourages her to make friends, and she does...and even manages to find herself a family. 

If you enjoy books that contain morally grey storylines that focus on character development instead of plot you would enjoy this book!


Dark Runner Rising releases 8/19/2022!



Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!






Sunday, August 7, 2022

Wings in Captivity by C. Soto

 





Blurb:

Grimm is an assassin, a ghost in the night, coming to gift souls for the Reaper!

Once he sets his eyes on Tara, his spirited butterfly, he knows he must capture her and put her in his own cage.

While Tara is on the run from one monster, she catches the eye of another.

With the games they play, in the end, who will have captured who?


WARNING: This is a Dark Romance, captive story. Trigger warnings include but are not limited to: dubious consent, strong language, violence. Intended audience 18+ only.


You are warned....get your fans ready, clutch your pearls, this is a steamy review.





Wings in Captivity by C. Soto is a quick smutty read.  To read this book you'll need to be ok with reading about kidnapping, bondage, torture...fair warning.  As smutty reads go, we get into the thick of it quite quickly.  Grimm is home on an assignment, living in his small town where he gets some privacy and reprieve from his demanding job as an assassin. As a general rule, women in his small town are off limits...however when he sees Tara he recognizes many things in her.  She isn't from this town, and she's hiding from someone. He kidnaps her and begins to play his own games...and as she learns to live by his rules, she sees his more gentle side.


Thoughts: Overall this was a well paced quick dark read that kept the pages turning. There was an interesting storyline between the sex scenes that kept things interesting, and I specially enjoyed the overall character development.  If you're looking for a quick steamy read and are ok with all the warnings then go grab this book.

Rating: 4 stars

Steam: Max! 10+ 



Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!