Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.


Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos. “

This is going to be a bit short because I don’t want to say any spoilers.

I was actually a bit disappointed in this one. It fell a little flat. It definitely hit the second book slump for me. I LOVED the first book, Shadow of the Fox. Pretty sure I gave that one 5 stars. This one really didn’t pick up until maybe the last 100 pages or so.

Characters. I really liked that you got four POV. That one of the POV was Hakaimono himself! He was very interesting to read about. I enjoyed the changes in him as well as his snark. He was my favorite to read about! Tatsumi was tortured before being trapped and now it’s on a whole other level. Yumeko is always fun to read about. She’s quite funny in a goofy way and I love it. She also has a lot of character growth, which I enjoyed. There is also a mysterious fourth POV in the form of a ghost who watches a VERY ineresting side character.

Plot. This is the area I’m having problems. The first book was all adventure and mysterious. This one had adventure but it wasn’t quite fun. I actually got mad at Yumeko in the end for a second. I had to really think about why she made the decisions she did. I’m trying not to give too much away here. It just wasn’t as fun as the first book.

Final Thoughts. I still love this series. The writing is super well done. The world building is incredible. And I can’t wait for the last book in the series! I’m hoping that one will blow me away!

Have you read any of Kagawa’s books? Which is your favorite?

* Book Sleeve is from my favorite sleeve shop, Love You More Studio! Use my code, Storied10 to save! I can’t stop using them in my review posts. I love it.

*Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, M/M, death, torture, ghosts, demons, blood

OTHER CONTENT: Standing up for what you believe in, sacrificing for your friends/ family, healthy friendships, not giving up

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Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Things to Eat/ Drink While Reading

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s Top Ten is all about food and drinks while eating!

Here are my top ten:

  1. Tea – Bubble tea, sweet tea, hot tea. Such a bookish thing really
  2. Coffee – Again, a given
  3. Hot Chocolate
  4. Wine – I don’t drink a lot but I like to have a cooler in the bath while reading sometimes
  5. Chips – Sweet potato chips or plain ol’ chips
  6. Chocolate
  7. Cookies
  8. Popcorn
  9. Ice Cream
  10. Gummy Bears – Or other gummies!

Apparently I like a lot of sweet things when I read! I actually hardly ever eat when I read but I almost always have a drink!

Are any of mine on your list? Do you ever spill?

American Royals (#1) by Katharine McGee – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 03, 2019

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Amazon

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown.
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart.
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history. “

*Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review! AND a big thank you to the publisher for having me on the tour!*

This is probably my favorite contemporary I’ve ever read. It read like a Hallmark movie with added drama. I loved every moment.

Characters: Beatrice seems uptight when you first meet her but quickly learn that she has her emotions under tight control. She is an extreme perfectionist because she is in line to become the next queen of America. I actually found her more interesting than her wild sister, Samantha, and her wild brother Jeff. I felt bad for Samantha though because she seemed like she would actually have been on the right path if she was encouraged (positively) to do so. She just couldn’t compete with her perfect older sister. Jeff seemed sweet but really naive when it comes to women! I guess he’s only 18 but still! He had me shaking my head sometimes! Nina seemed like the only normal teenager, which I suppose she was. Daphne… oh boy. What to say about her. While I admire her cleverness, she is also quite scary and just plain old MEAN! She makes a good “baddie” because you feel bad for her while at the same time hate her.

Plot: I think that McGee did a really good job of making this world feel real! I normally don’t like political insinuations but I have to say that I agreed a bit with some things she said. Especially the part where Beatrice is wondering what a vote would be like. And she came to the conclusion that it would basically be a mess and everyone would be corrupt… Agreed! Anyways, I liked the drama that Beatrice’s position caused. She didn’t really want it but has absolutely no choice. And the choices she has to make! I loved McGee’s look at what America would look like as a monarchy. McGee is actually a bit humorous at times, at one point she says that the Royals only drink coffee because of the Boston Tea Party incident. I almost laughed out loud at that!

Final Thoughts: If you like drama, alternate history, and lots of romantic tension, read this. That ending was so hard to read! I want the second book RIGHT NOW!

Katharine McGee is the New York Times bestselling author of the Thousandth Floor series. She studied English and French literature at Princeton and has an MBA from Stanford. She’s been speculating about American royalty since her undergraduate days, when she wrote a thesis on “castle envy”: the idea that the American psyche is missing out on something, because Americans don’t have a royal family of their own.

Katharine lives with her husband in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

For more information, check out her website (this is one of the COOLEST author sites I’ve ever seen!!).

Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders, #3) by Robin Hobb – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: March, 2000

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Dragons

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon

“The triumphant conclusion to the magnificent Liveship Traders series.

The dragon, Tintaglia, released from her wizardwood coffin, flies high over the Rain Wild River. Below her, Reyn and Selden have been left to drown, while Malta and the Satrap attempt to navigate the acid flow of the river in a decomposing boat.

Althea and Brashen are sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters in a last-ditch attempt to rescue the Vestrit family liveship, Vivacia, who was stolen by the pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing amongst their ragtag crew, and in the mind of the mad ship itself.

And all the while the waters around the Vivacia are seething with giant serpents, following the liveship as she sails to her destiny . . . “

I’ll be quick about this one since it’s the third book in the series and I can’t talk about much without giving away a spoiler!

Characters. Malta is my favorite character now. Whoops. Not sure how that happened considering I hated her. Reyn is sooo sweet still and I will forever ship him and Malta. Amber, Paragon, Vivacia, all have super interesting stories that I loved reading about. Wintrow has his heart torn so many times. I feel so bad for him! He grows almost as much as Malta though! I still want to be Ronica when I grow up. Brashen had some major growing to do but he did it well. Now for the “messy” characters. Kennit. Oh boy, he has the most interesting story of all. Etta also has her heart torn a few times. Kefria sort of redeemed herself at the end. Now Althea. Ugh. She was such a BRAT the whole freaking time. She was selfish and cruel sometimes, all while acting she deserved this or that. She ended up being my least favorite. Wow. I think I covered most characters.

Plot. Dragons, serpents, talking magic ships with secret histories, mysterious people, romances, pirates, high seas adventure, sea battles, tragic twists!

World. I never want to leave Robin Hobb’s world and everyone should join me here. She has it all!

Final Thoughts. Probably my favorite of all the books! I seriously tell everyone to read this series. I’m obsessed and I want to binge all of Hobb’s books now!

What is a series you are convinced everyone should read?

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

*Currently Reading sign is from Bookish Signs and More! Use my code: Lauren10 to save!*

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger. “

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!*

This was an incredible lush retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” ! It had everything a retelling should, drama, action, and romance! I quite enjoyed my time reading this.

Characters. I actually really liked Kateri, even starting out. She was absolutely ruthless while still yearning for her father’s approval. She had revenge on her mind and she lived like it. Her character growth was not only believable, but it was done REALLY well. Especially for only a 334 page book! And Cion! He was fantastic. I loved his character and how he helped Kateri see truth in a sometimes gentle, sometimes tough love manner. A good mix of both helps! And Rodric is a good classic baddie!

Plot. The plot line was seriously so much fun. With water running extremely low and people having to ration it to half a bucket a day? And the royalty getting to use as much as they want? That’s bound to cause some problems. It was interesting to see how the author solved that problem. I really liked her solution to not only the water but also how people survived and escaped.

World. Minus the water problem and royalty, Achra sounds like somewhere I’d want to visit! It sounds like a blot of color in the desert, an oasis that weary travelers seek. It sounds amazing after a long journey, right? Sullivan did a really good job of making up creatures that would live there too; one’s that are poisonous, ones you can eat, ones that are poisonous and you can eat, and ones that don’t belong.

Final Thoughts. I wish there was more! Also, I am officially a big fan of Sullivan’s work now. I will definitely be buying A Touch of Gold now! I love that she takes lesser known myths and writes re-tellings. I have never read re-tellings like these before!

Thoughts on re-tellings? What is your favorite?

* *Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, animal cruelty, child abuse, death

OTHER CONTENT: Strong character growth, overcoming your weaknesses, stand up for your values and morals, strong male and female characters, caring for others

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Wanting to Love You by Erin Rylie Cover Reveal

I am so excited to be sharing with you the cover reveal for Wanting to Love You by Erin Rylie!

Look at it! Just look at it! It’s so beautiful! I know I don’t usually post romance but I’ve read the first book of this series and it was so much fun! And this one sounds just as good!

Get the first book here:

Amazon

“Ten years ago, Becky Waters fled her hometown and moved to Houston, heartbroken and pregnant. After a long and contentious fight with her parents and Child Protective Services to get back the son her family stole from her, she finally has everything she’s ever wanted. Her life seems like it’s finally on the right track until the father of her child shows up, demanding to know why she hid the existence of their son from him for so many years. As old hurts are brought to the surface, the feelings Becky has fought for the last ten years return with a vengeance. Can she forgive and forget, or will she let the past ruin her chance with the only man she’s ever been able to imagine in her future?Reese Petrov has spent most of his adult life alone, licking his wounds after the devastation of a first love gone wrong. He’s focused on his career and nothing else, keeping everyone in his life at a distance. When he moves and meets his new partner at the Houston Police Department, he’s unexpectedly forced to face the one who got away. As he fights for a place in Becky and his child’s lives, a family tragedy brings him to his knees and forces him to realize that letting people in is the only way he can survive. Can he learn the lesson quickly enough to rebuild two of the most important relationships in his life?”

I’m a Montana born, Texas raised New Jersey transplant with a degree in hospitality. At 29 years old, I decided it was finally time for me to pursue my real passion in life – writing. I’ve been writing princess stories and LOTR fan-fiction since I was in middle school, so the transition into romance has been fun!

When I’m not writing, I’m reading (fantasy, sci-fi and romance are my genres) or working. I’m currently obsessed with Brooklyn Nine Nine which should tell you all you need to know about my sense of humor. 

Finally, I am 100% an old cat lady. My cats Socks and Kaz are little weirdos and I love them more than most people.

Seriously check out Erin Rylie and series! It’s a must read if you love romance!

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Saga Press

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Adult, Urban Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

” There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians. “

This was a book that was picked for my bookclub on Instagram and I had never heard of it or seen it anywhere. I was VERY surprised when I found I could not put it down! Let me just say, this is highly underrated!

Character. Sydney is a character that I found myself going, “Oh man, I want to be like her.” She can take pain, and I mean A LOT of pain, she is kind, extremely clever, and very powerful. Ian was a good match to her I think. He was all of those things as well. Gray was a super creepy baddie. And Laurant was my favorite! He’s just so sweet and is an honorable character.

World. Howard did an amazing job creating this magical society that operates unseen within our own! She made it seem like it could be real. Like if I just looked hard enough I could find it. I love when authors can make you feel that way! I loved the way her magic system worked. I don’t think there were any details that I wondered about! To use magic there MUST be a sacrifice. Whether or not that comes from your body or someone else.

Plot. Oh mama, that plot. A dark house of magic that releases the most powerful magician ever who only has her own plans to destroy them? Yes. That’s their downfall. They were too prideful in thinking that they manipulated Sydney enough to be loyal. And it backfires. Badly. Plus the whole plot is based in magical games to see who will win control over the magical world. WAY cool.

Final Thoughts. Two minor dislikes. One is the audio book narrator. She spoke very haltingly whenever the characters spoke. She. Talked. Like. There. Were. Periods. In. Between. Words. I got used to it but it was kind of annoying. The other really minor dislike is that I wish the fight scenes lasted longer. HOWEVER, modern, magical games. That right there should make you want to read this. I saw there was going to be a second book and I can’t wait!

Recommend me some underrated fantasy books!

*As always, gorgeous book sleeve is from Love You More Studio! Code: Storied10 to save!*

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*