Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic #1) by Suyi Davies Okungbowa | Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: May 11

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

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From one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, Son of the Storm is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa.

“Everything I love in a fantasy novel. Damn good stuff!” —Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy.

But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.

Before We Begin…

Thank you so much to Orbit for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

I liked this book. However, while it started off extremely interesting, and ended amazing, the middle was, well, boring. Eep! I feel so bad saying that. It just didn’t capture my attention. There was a TON of world building and conflict build up. And while I like those things, I need action to go along with it. Alright, let’s get on with this adventure!

Destination

When I visited the Continent of Oon I went to three places. The first place was Bassa. Bassa is a confusing city of crisscrossed roads and packed with people. There are 15 districts with the richest being district 1. They don’t let anyone in district 1 unless you have the darkest of skin. If you have lighter skin (light brown), you are considered lesser. Bassa used to be a mighty empire but in recent times they have a group of men who run the country. They still “rule” most of the continent but their power is weakening.

Another place I visited was the Breathing Forest. I do not recommend going there. It was scary and full of creatures that no one thought actually existed. And the forest, well, breaths. Like an earthquake every few hours. If you make it out of the forest alive, you would be one of very few who have. IF you do make it out, you might end up in Wudasha, the third place I visited. Wudasha is the place that the “lighter” skin go. The place where those who are half Bassai and half from the Savanna Belt live. They are only slightly free here. However, they are still under Bassa’s thumb. Wudasha is run by The Youth. Don’t let the name fool you. They are all women. And they are scary good at their job. Wudasha is not as nice as Bassa but there at least you are free to do almost what you please and not be a slave. There is great unrest there because lets say that there is a wanted person or group from Bassa, Bassa has every right to charge right in and get them weather Wudasha wants them to or not.

People

There were quite a few guides who took me on this adventure so I will stick with the main 3. Danso. Ah poor Danso. He is what you call very book smart but not street smart. He has good intentions but not the best execution all the time. He is very inquisitive and a quick learner. He is much more than what he seems. I personally think he seems very sweet. His heart knows that he is meant for more, as well as his people. They deserve better. Along with Danso I met Lilong. Lilong is from the islands. Lilong is the most hated person of Oon. She is “yellow skinned” (we would know them as a person with albinism), with yellow hair, and light brown eyes. She carries a power that has not been seen for centuries. She is extremely distrustful (rightly so). She fights hard. And she will do anything to save her people. My last guide was Esheme. If you meet her, run. She is a psychopath. She has no feelings and would probably like to watch you be flayed. She takes ambition to a whole other level. She will hunt you down if you accidentally bump into her.

Smells, Fashion, Food

In Bassa, depending on the district you are in, you will smell oils, perfumes, and spices. Wrappers are absolutely in fashion right now. Depending on how you wrap them, they will help show your status. Don’t ever get mud on them though. Pair that with the right number of arches in your hair as well as paint on your face befitting your station and you are well on your way to becoming a true Bassai. There is not too much food to go around because Bassa closed their borders due to a yellow skinned assassin. So salted meat must be eaten first before it goes bad. You can also buy food like yams, watermelon, pawpaws, and soursop.

Creatures

There are two creatures I remember meeting. One is the Kwaga. They have striped equine coats, polished double horns, and massive hooves. Only the wealthier are lucky enough to have these to ride on. The second creature I met on my travels was the Skopi. I do not recommend. If you see this particular creature thought to be a legend, run. This giant bat-like thing also has the power to call lightening from the skies. If you see it, you are most likely about to die.

Notes

I read a lot of reviews where people were mad at the author for using the term “yellow skin”. I read his response and here is my take. First of all the author is from and lives in Nigeria. He based his book on ancient African empires. There is no other nation mentioned in this book other than those that would be equivalent to African. In the ancient civilizations, they did kill those that were of light skin and enslaved those who were lighter brown. Only the darkest were thought to be pure. When he says “yellow skin” he is referring to those with albinism. And I believe it is still a derogatory statement within the fantasy world of Oon.

The art print is one I own and took a picture of. The artist is La_draw.s on Instagram. The print is of Danso, the author’s original character.

For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1) by Hannah Whitten | Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: June 01, 2021

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

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The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Before we go on this particular adventure, there are a few words I’d like to say. I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK EVERYONE READ IT. Stranger Things + Red Riding Hood + Beauty and the Beast = A thriller dark fairytale. Sign. Me. Up. Oh yeah, plus a bit of the sweetest romance ever?! This world is my newest obsession. Thank you so much to Orbit for sending me this!

Destination

Today we are going to the magical dark fairytale world that is For the Wolf. First let’s visit Valleyda. This is the kingdom that is cursed with sending their second daughter princess to the Wilderwood and to the Wolf. This is the most powerful kingdom where their religious beliefs about the 5 ancient and trapped kings are strong. People and other priestesses come from all over the world to come and pray at the famed temple and to see the sacrifice of a second daughter. Valleyda is home to beautiful gardens that lately seemed to have withered and died. Valleyda and it’s stone seems cold and lacking in something…

Let’s travel to the Wilderwood. It is a dangerous and wild place filled with trees who will want blood and who make deals bargaining with your life. It seems as though it is eternally twilight. It is also a doorway to the shadowlands where monsters from your worst nightmares can form a breach and come through to terrorize everyone in their path. There is rot in the Wilderwood, but if you look and listen, you can find the beauty here. Especially in the stories the trees tell or in the giant manor sitting in the middle of the woods with a huge library. Cue *swooning*.

Smells, Fashion, Food

In the manor, in the Wilderwood, you can always smell fresh coffee, ink stained pages, and rustling leaves. You might smell the coppery tang of blood as well but you will get used to that. Blood is life here. It is everything.

When you travel, make sure to pack your cloak. One type that is especially in style is a beautiful red cloak with gold thread making a picture. Oh, and definitely a good pair of boots. You will also need plenty of bandages. Again, lots of blood.

Food. Don’t eat in Valleyda. Just skip that part. And as far as food in the Wilderwood (if you aren’t the food), you just get some coffee and soup. So I suggest making or packing your own food if you go.

People

Oh the people you will meet. Let’s start with the first person you will come across, Redarys, or Red. Red is a fiercely protective second sister who has secret magic she probably won’t show you for fear it will, well, kill you. She is insanely curious and brave and someone I’d want to be friends with. She would sacrifice anything for those she loves.

Neverah – Neve- is the first daughter. She is in line for the Valleydian throne. She has a certain darkness about her that is curious. She will not hesitate to delve into that darkness to do what she *thinks* is right, even if the world burns. She is whip smart and will also do anything for her sister. She might have a slight trust issue however.

Raffe is the man everyone falls in love with. He loves just one, however, and fights with everything he has to get to her heart. He is the wry, handsome, prince-like, man that is so loveable even though bad things keep happening to him.

Lord Arick. You will meet this poor sweet fool and hesitantly love him anyways. *Sigh*

Kiri. Back away slowly if you come across this crazed, psycho priestess. She is the most devote to the 5 kings.

Fife and Lyra. Comes as a packaged deal. You will meet them in the Wilderwood. They are hard to get to know. Very private people who have lived long lives. But their stories are worth the search to know.

Eammon. Think new cinnamon roll book boyfriend material. SWOON. Tall. Dark. Handsome. Tragic backstory. Mysterious. Kind of sad. I love him. You will definitely want to meet him. I don’t want to give away too many of his secrets, those are his to tell, but he is a protector. He deserves all the love!!

And lastly the mysterious Solmir. I don’t know him as much as the others. He comes across as a scary dude, but is he?

Coming back out of this world is hard! It really sucks you in! I highly recommend adventuring here! Your adrenaline will be pumping, your heart will pound, you will gasp multiple times, and be sad when your trip is over. I can’t wait to go back in book 2!

How to Kill a Dragon (Heir of Dragons, #1) by J. A. Culican | Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Indie

Publication Date: April 29, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

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The dragons are gathering, which can only mean one thing. Death.

Minx, a royal Fae has been tasked with saving her people. Problem is, the only way to do that is by slaying a dragon and bringing their hide back to Paddling Grounds. The magic that resides inside dragons is strong and without it her people will die.

Except Minx has never slayed a dragon, she hasn’t even ever seen one, but she knows where to find them. With help from her Faelyr, half fae and half tiger companion, Minx sets out to Talon Range.

Kaleb, the dragon heir to the Pyra clan isn’t looking for war. But then again no one has ever asked him what he wants. He has a duty and he will do whatever is needed to keep his people safe. Even if that means taking on the darkness himself.

When Kaleb and Minx come face to face, a battle erupts. Neither are giving up, neither will fail. Until they realize they share a common enemy and only together can they defeat them.

With a pull between them that is strictly forbidden, Minx and Kaleb find they are on their own and time is running out.

A fae, a dragon and a war neither are prepared for. The end of both species is near and only they can save each other.

How to Kill a Dragon is the first book in the Heir of Dragons trilogy by USA Today Bestselling Author J.A. Culican. Full of dark magic, dragon shifters and forbidden romance. Fans of Jennifer L. Armetrout and Sarah J. Maas will love this new epic fantasy romance with a dose of dragon riding and magic bonding.

Beginning

Today I will be taking you through the few places mentioned in this world and introducing you to some interesting characters and creatures. While the creation (writing) of this world was not my cup of tea, I know many will enjoy it here, as there is a lot to discover, even if the author of this world is usually a middle grade author and it shows here. Nothing bad about that of course, just if you were expecting a more epic fantasy world, this isn’t it. And the big bad didn’t make me feel like it was intense. However, the world itself and what is going on there is fascinating!

Destination

Today I am showing you around the world of a Fae and a Dragon Shifter. Through the Fae dwelling, Pandling Grounds, we will see tree houses built into the sides and on the branches of old, wise trees. They celebrate all things nature here so make sure you kick back and relax and maybe visit the mysterious Lake they let no one near…

Next we will go to a largely human dwelling place called Karn. This mismatched mix up of a city is home to mostly humans but plenty of other creatures come here to trade in legal and illegal goods. Perhaps you may find a Faelyr and have a connection with it. Be careful you don’t get lost in this twisty city, you might end up somewhere dark…

The Talon Range. Home to the Dragon Shifters. This beautiful place set into the mountain side is where the Pyro clan holds council meetings, lives, and practices drills. The stonework is absolutely incredible thanks to the Kurgs, creatures who work in these mountains that have a knack for carving beautiful stone.

Creatures

There are a host of creatures you will see on your journey. Faelyr, Wuff, Plurn, Krah, Kurgs are just to name a few! Each have fae ancestry mixed with different animal heritage to give them unique features. There is also the mysterious race of Dark Fae that play with dark magic and the makings of things. Then of course there are the Fae and Dragon Shifters!

People

While we are on our journey we will run into a few interesting characters. Our main female character, Minx, is a headstrong Fae Dragon Hunter. She is deadly with a bow. But she also has healing magic that can get you out of a pinch, say, if you are beat up, have arrows slice through you, or are poisoned. She and her Faelyr, Minx (think white tiger), have such a strong connection that they can speak telepathically. Minx and her Fae people have prejudices that run deep against the Dragon Shifters. It will be interesting to watch that unfold when she meets the handsome dragon shifter, Kaleb.

Kaleb is a strong, kind Dragon Shifter from the pyro clan. When he and Minx clash (literally), sparks fly… (*wink*). A bit of insta-love here but again, it’s more like Middle Grade- not in a bad way. We watch them as they form a tentative alliance once they figure out they have a mutual enemy- an evil army.

As you adventure, be careful to not run into Valry, a crazed fae/ fox hybrid bent on destruction. OR Torrent an evil mage that may or not be the big bad of this world.

If you run into Alla, and she trusts you with a few secrets, help her and befriend her. Poor woman.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – Spoiler Free Review | Once Upon a Book Club Box

Publisher: Park Row

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

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A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Destination

We will be going to 1791 London as well as modern day London. Where will I go? You may ask. In 1791 I highly suggest the Apothecary shop off of Bear Alley. There you can find all your naturalistic medicinal needs. If you are in the market for revenge, Nella can also help there, by selling you poisons to get rid of the man who wronged you. She will also tell you how exactly to minister the poison so as not to get caught. She will give you a vial with a bear etched on it so as not to get mixed up with your other day to day vials. Nella and Eliza might even take you to the fields beyond the city to pluck blister beetles and teach you how to roast them and make them into a poison.

Not a murderer? May I suggest the Shoppe of Books and Baubles. There you might find books on magick. Maybe the recipes for magick will work, maybe not. Only time will tell. Much has changed in 200 years but some mysterious are still waiting to be solved.

In modern day London, you must go Mudlarking on the River Thames. Who knows what you will find. You just might find a mysterious 200 year old vial with a bear etched on it. To solve that mystery, you should check out The British Library. There you can research find old articles about 200 year old murders.

Food

There are a few things you can eat while you waltz about London murdering people or solving said murders. In 1791 London, there are some lovely eggs that 12 year old Eliza makes that are to DIE for. Or a glass of champagne at a party. Careful you keep a watch on your glass. In modern day London, I highly suggest Dal Fiume Italian restaurant where you can drink copious amounts of Chianti wine. Or a little coffee shop around the corner from your hotel where you can meet with new friends.

People

There are quite a few people you will meet as you go on your adventure. Nella runs an apothecary shop off of Bear Alley in 1791 London. It is very hard to find but once you do you will find her slaving away making tinctures and poisons for those lucky enough to see her. You will notice that she moves a bit stiffly from some sort of disease, maybe cancer and arthritis. She is also surrounded by a cloud of grief. She has suffered heavy loss throughout her 40 years of life. Her mission in life is to help women.

You will also meet Eliza. Eliza is a 12 year old girl who loves working for her mistress. But when her mistress takes to the country for awhile, she works with Nella and helps run her shop temporarily. She is a very brave and inquisitive girl with perhaps a wild imagination. She works hard at everything she does.

In modern day London, Caroline is the women to know. With a history degree and a reawakened adventurous spirit, she won’t give up until she knows all the mysteries of the past. She will lead you on a wild research adventure as she learns to cope with her husband’s infidelity and rediscover who she is.

Overall

Sarah Penner takes you on an adventure to solve a mystery and have compassion for those who are not dealing well with their traumas. I quite liked traveling through her world. It made me want to go dig up crazy historical finds!

Once Upon a Book Club Box

I had help during my adventure with Once Upon a Book Club Box! I got to open a special gift on certain pages, that enhanced the story experience. The Lost Apothecary was the March Adult Book. I really love these boxes! They are seriously so fun! Here are some close ups of the items they included in this box! Included was a decorative bowl of eggs, Eucalyptus Oil, a quill stylus, and a diffuser jar. If you are interested, I have a coupon code to save 10% on their boxes: Storied10

Shadow Players Trilogy by Heidi Heilig – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (Booksparks)

Publication Date: September 25, 2018 | October 08, 2019 | April 27, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars for the whole series

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*Amazon and Bookshop are my affiliate links*

A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from Heidi Heilig.

Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism.

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me On This Unworthy Scaffold in exchange for an honest review!*

First I want to share some cool facts about this series with y’all! First of all, the author is Asian and Pacific Islander. I had the privilege of meeting her one time and I fangirled so hard because I am also part Asian and Pacific Islander! We had a good conversation about Hawaii and it was a dream to meet her! Second, the book titles are named after Shakespeare! And third, the author has bipolar disorder and wrote (most) of her experiences into her MC, Jetta.

Book talk now! I love this series! It’s written in first person, letters, music, and a play script. Very cool. I have never read a book like that before! Her writing is so unique!

I love the world building. Heilig writes a beautiful world of French and Asian culture mix; myths become reality; life meets death.

Jetta, the main character, has a unique power that gives her sight and control over the souls of the dead. She is stubborn but loves with her whole heart. She and Leo make a great team! I loved them! I really enjoyed Akra, her brother as well. In the second and third book we see and hear from him a lot more. Theodora, Cameron, Cheeky, and Tia make up the rest of their “group”. They are a very diverse mix! I loved that Theodora was a STEM rep. I would definitely read a book all about her!

The creatures Jetta makes through her power are so cool! There is a cat, a dragon, and a gryphon all at play here.

There is also a really creepy bad guy that has a different sort of power.

In the second book, we see a lot of beautiful descriptions of Chakra, and in the third, we see a lot of Aquitan. I would love to see the Lion lands!

I would like to finish by saying: Heilig, how dare you. You know what you did. You might as well have punched me right in the heart. *cue crying from heart pain*

My ONLY complaint is that there wasn’t a lot of fire in the romances. But then again the romances are a small part of the story.

Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores .5) by Danielle L. Jensen – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: CLA

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4. 5 Stars

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DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH.

A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.

THE COMMANDER

Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor.

THE SOLDIER

Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart.

THE REBEL

Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart.

Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, TARNISHED EMPIRE is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night.

TARNISHED EMPIRE is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s DARK SHORES. But readers new to the world can begin here.

Short review since this was a shorter book!

This was so good y’all! I love Agrippa! And I’m a huge fan of Danielle L. Jensen already! This was my first introduction into the Dark Shores world and I can’t wait to dive into book one. I’m not sure that I would suggest starting here because I heard that we don’t see Agrippa again for the next 3 books at least! WHAT?! I’m so invested in his story now! I need more!! And of Silvara! I loved her. She was fierce and loyal but thought for herself.

I love the Roman fantasy mash up in this world. Jensen does a really good job of writing in these subtle fantasy aspects. She writes them in such a way that feels natural to the world. She doesn’t overly explain the world but does a good job of letting the reader figure things out without being confused. I also really liked the action. Again, Jensen doesn’t over do the battle scenes but she still makes them bloody enough to be interesting!

I am super excited to see more of Marcus. He seems very interesting!

So, I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars because while I loved it, I don’t know that I’m obsessed. We shall see with the rest of the series though!

Dearest Josephine by Caroline George – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: February 02, 2021

Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

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Caroline George sweeps readers up into two different time periods with an unexpected love story that prompts us to reimagine what it means to be present with the people we love.

2020: Chocolate and Earl Grey tea can’t fix Josie De Clare’s horrible year. She mourned the death of her father and suffered a teen-life crisis, which delayed her university plans. But when her father’s will reveals a family-owned property in Northern England, Josie leaves London to find clarity at the secluded manor house. While exploring the estate, she discovers two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist, all addressed to someone named Josephine. And then she discovers a novel in which it seems like she’s the heroine…

1820: Novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. Born the bastard son to a nobleman and cast out from society, Elias seeks refuge in his mind with the quirky heroine who draws him into a fantasy world of scandal, betrayal, and unconditional love. Convinced she’s his soulmate, Elias writes letters to her, all of which divulge the tragedy and trials of his personal life.

As fiction blurs into reality, Josie and Elias must decide: How does one live if love can’t wait? Separated by two hundred years, they fight against time to find each other in a story of her, him, and the novel written by the man who loves her.

*Thank you to the author for sending me a copy!*

This was such a sweet story!! It was a bit like a breath of fresh air! Or a walk in the spring. Told in a series of emails, texts, letters, and a found manuscript, makes this story a very unique read. It was a bit slower than what I’m used to, definitely a historical fiction feel. Which I like, don’t get me wrong, I just had to read a fast paced book at the same time as reading this one! But that’s just me!

I loved Josephine’s character! She was quirky and I liked reading about her adventure in Caldwaller Manor and fixing it up. I loved reading about her journey in discovering the town around her as well as discovering Elias, who wrote to her 200 years ago! They were basically letters about his life and how he loves her. *insert tear filled eyes here*. I loved him. Very Mr. Darcy worthy! Well done Caroline! She also did amazingly well switching from modern day language to 1800s tone and writing. I want to visit the English countryside now more than ever!

So, I will say, the ending surprised me. And I liked it. It was a story within a story within a story. I really want this to be a movie! It would be so incredibly cute!! If you are looking for a slower, beautiful, sweet romance, definitely check this one out!

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

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*Amazon and Bookshop are affiliate links*

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

This is going to be a tough one. I LOVE Maas. I started reading her books when A Court of Thorns and Roses came out. This was probably my least favorite Maas book.

First of all, SMUT. Be forewarned. I don’t like smut. I don’t mind sex scenes if they have to do with the story or if they are short romantic scenes (more like Outlander). This book could have been 100 pages shorter without the unnecessary smut. I HATED how Nesta used sex. It was toxic. SHE was toxic and no one seems to mind that. She freaking emotionally abused Feyre for most of her life and yet people hate Tamlin?! Tamlin needs some work, don’t get me wrong, but Nesta… hated her. She was freaking toxic to EVERYONE! And people are like, “Oh poor Nesta and her trauma, she’s freaking BA and she’s so strong, blah blah blah…” No. I’m sorry, I have been through trauma, study trauma, want to be a trauma therapist. And no. That does NOT excuse the toxic way she treated people around her.

Now, I am ALL for redemption stories. I want a Tamlin redemption arc. AND I’m all for Nesta redemption.

So. Now on to things I liked! Maas bringing attention to trauma and how to start dealing with it. And, like in the book, surprise: sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll doesn’t fix your problems. Maas definitely did a lot of research in dealing with trauma and the techniques she used are techniques that anyone can use! Kudos to her for doing that well! She included techniques like breathing/ meditating, exercise, facing your trauma, talking about your trauma, and finding a group of women (or men if you are a man) who have also been through trauma. The only thing I would add (now this is a fantasy series so I don’t think they have these here…) is trauma therapy! I also loved how Maas included TIME in dealing with it. It takes sometimes years to deal with trauma. Don’t give up.

Wow. Told y’all I was passionate about this subject. Alas, I will move on from saying trauma a million times…

Let’s talk plot! Maas has got to be a master world builder! She added a few things and brought back a few plot points that were amazing! I am VERY interested and invested in this world! The things she has brought back… *shivers* in anticipation! I keep wanting to say the plot points I loved but I don’t want to give away spoilers! ARGH! She’s definitely building up to something way cool!

The next book is about Azriel, Elaine, Lucien mess. THAT is the book I am most excited for! Azriel is by far my favorite and he deserves all the happiness!!! But Lucien does too. And Elaine. This is going to be a mess I can’t wait for!

I will say, that I am happy with the ending of A Court of Silver Flames!

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1) by Julie Kagawa – Spoiler Free Review and Excerpt

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: February 09, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy, Faeries, Retellings

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads | Bookshop | Amazon

You may have heard of me…

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.

*I received an e-arc via the publisher from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This is not my first Julie Kagawa book, but it is my first time into The Iron Fey realm! I have wanted to read those books for years but somehow have not gotten to them yet. I have heard a TON of wonderful tings about Puck. He seems to be everyone’s favorite trickster. Here’s the thing, at the beginning, something happens to Puck and he’s, well, mean. BUT there were a lot of things I loved. I think I need to read the Iron Fey series to love him more!

This book is FULL of adventure. My favorite kind. They go through so many fights and crazy things while traveling across the fey realms. I LOVED this.

Nyx. Love her! She is so BA! She has some really cool powers and she’s a fighting machine! I love her chemistry with Puck. I really liked him. I liked his skills, his wit, and his humor. I just didn’t like his attitude most of the book.

I highly recommend this book for any adventurer and anyone who likes cool magic and fight scenes!

Excerpted from THE IRON RAVEN by Julie Kagawa. © 2021 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

The human world

A long, long time ago

It was almost time

I peeked out of the bushes and grinned.  The stage was nearly set.  In the tiny, sun-dappled clearing beyond the trees, the crystal-clear pool glimmered, attracting all manner of life to its sparkling waters.  A herd of spotted deer bent graceful necks to the surface under the watchful eye of a great stag, standing tall at the edge of the pond.  A few rabbits hopped through the bracken scattered through the clearing, and a family of squirrels scolded each other in the branches of a large gnarled oak.  Birds sang, wildlife meandered, and the wind gently rustled the leaves overhead.  It was a blissful, picturesque woodland scene, a perfectly peaceful day in the human realm.

Boring, boring, boring.

I smiled, reached into my shirt, and pulled the pan flute into the light.  It was my own design; I’d spent several days gathering hollow reeds, cutting them, binding them together and making sure the tone was perfect.  Now, I was going to see what it could do.  

Drawing glamour from the forest around me, I raised the flute to my lips and blew out a single note.

The clear, high sound cut through the stillness of the woods, arcing over the grove, and all the animals clustered around the pond jerked up, eyes wide and nostrils flaring.  The rabbits sat up, ears twitching back and forth.  The deer raised their heads, dark eyes huge as they gazed around, ready to flee.  The squirrels’ tails flicked back and forth as they clung to the branches, their chittering voices silenced.    

In the sudden stillness, I took a deep breath, gathering my magic, and began playing.

The melody rose into the air, cheerful and face paced.  It swirled around the pond, into the ears of every living creature.  For a moment, none of them moved,

Then, one of the rabbits began tapping its foot.  The others followed, thumping their hind legs in tune to the rhythm, and the deer began tossing their heads to the music.  In the branches, the squirrels bobbed, tails flicking back and forth, keeping time, and the birds added their voices to the song.  I bit down a smile and played louder, faster, drawing in more glamour and releasing it into the notes trilling through the forest.  

With a bugle, the ancient stag reared up, tossing his huge antlers, and gave a graceful bound to the center of the clearing.  His sharp hooves pawed the grass, raking gouges in the earth, as he began stepping and leaping with the music.  As one, his herd joined him, bouncing and cavorting to his side, and the rabbits began flinging themselves in wild arcs around the stomping deer.  My glee soared; this was working better than I had hoped. It was all I could do to keep playing and not let the song drop because of the enormous grin wanting to stretch my face.  

Rising from the bushes, I walked toward the grove, the pan flute moving rapidly under my lips, the song rising and the magic soaring in response.  My feet itched, and I started to move them, stepping and dancing to the center of the clearing.  Filling my lungs, I played as loudly as I could, my body moving almost on its own, leaping and twirling and spinning through the air.  And all around me, the forest creatures danced as well, hooves and horns and furry bodies barely missing me as they bounced and cavorted in a frantic circle, hurling themselves around the grove with wild abandon. I lost myself in the music, in the excitement and ecstasy, as I danced with the forest.

I didn’t know how long the melody went on; half the time my eyes were closed and I was moving on pure instinct.  But at last, as the song reached a crescendo, I sensed it was time to bring it to a close.  With one final, soaring note, the melody died away, the wild emotions faded, and the whirlwind of magic swirling through the grove fluttered out, returning to the earth.   

Panting, I lowered my arms.  Around me, my fellow dancers also came to shuddering stops, breathing hard.  The great stag stood a few feet away, antlered head bowed, legs and flanks trembling.  As I watched, he quivered and collapsed, white foam bubbling from his mouth and nostrils as his head struck the ground.  One by one, the rest of the herd crumpled as well, some gasping wide-eyed for breath, some lying motionless in the dirt.  Scattered around them, furry lumps of rabbits lay in the churned mud.  I looked at the trees and saw the squirrels and birds lying at the bases of the trunks, having fallen from their perches once the music ceased.  

I blinked.  Well, that was unexpected.  How long had I been playing anyway?  I looked at the sky through the branches and saw clouds streaked with orange, the sun hovering low on the horizon.  I’d come to this grove and played the very first note early this morning.  It seemed our wild revel had lasted the entire day.

Huh.  I scratched the back of my head.  Well, that’s disappointing.  I guess I can’t push these mortal beasts too aggressively, or they just collapse.  Hmm.  Tapping the fingers of one hand against my arm, I gazed at the pan flute in the other.  I wonder if humans would do any better? 

“Boy.” 

The deep, lyrical voice came from behind me, and a ripple of magic shivered through the air. I felt a stab of annoyance that someone had been watching my revel; that was why I’d chosen to do this in the human world, after all—so I could worry less about curious eavesdroppers.   I turned and saw a procession of horses at the edge of the clearing, watching me from the trees.  The mounts were fey creatures, lighter and much more graceful than their mortal counterparts, their hooves barely touching the ground.  The riders atop them were sidhe knights, clad in armor of leaves, vines and branches woven together.  Part of the Summer Court, I realized.  I’d seen them before, as well as the knights of the Winter Court.  I’d even played with a few of them in the wyldwood, though they never realized the cause of all their small, annoying mishaps was a forest boy too insignificant to notice. 

But the rider at the front of the procession had definitely noticed me, and he was impossible to miss, too.  His mount was bright gold, brighter than any mortal steed, but the noble atop it outshone even his mount.  He was dressed in armor of green and gold, with a cloak made of blooming vines that left flowers where he passed.  Long silver hair flowed from under the huge antlered crown that rested on his brow, and the piercing green eyes beneath it were fixed solely on me. 

Why was he here?  Had he heard my music and been drawn to the sound? That was unfortunate. I tried to avoid catching the eye of the Summer Court, particularly this faery.  I hadn’t been doing anything wrong; the fey cared little to what happened in the mortal world. The deaths of a few forest creatures meant nothing to them. But attracting the attention of one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever was a dangerous game. Depending on his mood, he might demand that I “gift” him the thing I’d worked so hard on, play the pipes for him and his knights by for as long as he was amused, or entertain them all by becoming the next hunt. The fey lords were notoriously unpredictable, and I treated them as I would a sleeping dragon: it was okay to tiptoe around and steal their gold, as long as they didn’t see you.

But now, the dragon had spotted me.

The sidhe gentry nudged his mount, and the horse stepped into the clearing, striding across the grass until beast and rider loomed before me.  I stood my ground and gazed up defiantly at the noble, who was watching me with appraising eyes.

“So young,” he mused.  “And such an impressive use of glamour.  What is your name, boy?”

“Robin.”

“And where are your parents, Robin?”

I shrugged.  “I live by myself.  In the wyldwood.”  I couldn’t remember my parents, if I’d even had them.  My earliest memory was the tangle of the wyldwood, foraging for food and shelter, learning the skills I needed to survive.  But, even though I was alone, I’d never felt like I didn’t belong.  The forest, the wyldwood, was my home.  That was how it always had been. 

“Hm.”  The tall noble didn’t press the question.  He observed me in silence for another moment, his face giving nothing away.  “Do you know who I am, boy?” he asked instead. 

This time, I nodded.  “You’re King Oberon.” It was obvious; everyone knew who the Summer King was, though I’d never seen him in person.  It didn’t matter.  I had never seen Queen Mab, ruler of the Winter Court, either, but I was certain I would know her if I did.

“Yes,” the Seelie King agreed.  “I am indeed.  And I could use someone of your talents in Seelie territory.” He raised a hand, indicating me with long, elegant fingers.  “You have power; raw, unfettered Summer magic rivaling some of my strongest allies in the court. Such a gift should not go to waste in the wyldwood.  You should not be living in the forest like a beast, singing to birds and squirrels.  You should be part of the greatest court in the Nevernever. What say you, Robin?”  The king regarded me with eyes like pale green frost.  “Would you like to become part of the Seelie Court?”

Part of the Seelie Court?  

Curiosity battled defiance.  I was intrigued, of course.  Living by myself in the wyldwood meant I could come and go as I pleased, but it was getting a bit lonely.  I wanted to talk to people, others of my kind, not just forest creatures and the occasional scatterbrained piskie.  And of the two courts, Summer territory sounded much more pleasant than the frozen, hostile land of Winter.

       Still, it was never a good idea to take the first offer.  Even I, with my limited knowledge of bargains and deals, knew that much.

“I like it in the forest.”  I crossed my arms and smiled at the king.  “Why should I go live at the Summer Court?”

The Seelie King smiled, as if he’d expected that answer.  “Because, Robin, I am king.”  He spoke the phrase like it was the most important fact in the world.  “And as king of the Seelie, I can give you whatever your heart desires. I can grant you power, wealth, the love of as many hearts as you wish.” He paused, as I wrinkled my nose. “But I can see you are not interested in these things. Perhaps, then, this would be of note.  I have many enemies, Robin.  Both within the court and without. From time to time, these enemies need to realize that they cannot underestimate the sovereignty of Summer.  If you join me…well, let us say you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your magic on things other than common forest beasts.”

Now that sounded interesting. I glanced back at the pond, at the motionless bodies surrounding it.  Poor dumb animals. I hadn’t meant to harm them, but it seemed normal creatures were very fragile.  I would love to try some of my ideas on sturdier creatures, maybe even a few fey, and Oberon was dangling that big, bright carrot in front of me.  He seemed to know exactly what I wanted.  The only question was, did I care?  

“So, Robin of the Wyldwood,” King Oberon went on, peering down at me from his horse.  “What is your decision?  Will you join my court?  I will name you court jester, and you can play your tricks and practice your magic without boundaries.  All I ask is that you do me a small service from time to time.  Do we have a deal?”

Something nagged at me, a feeling that this agreement wasn’t quite what I thought it was. I’d made deals before, but they were with piskies and sprites and a couple local dryads. Never with someone as important as the ruler of the Seelie Court. Was I missing something? This did seem a little too good to be true. 

I hesitated a moment more, then shrugged.  Then again, why not join the Summer Court?  What was the worst that could happen? I was aching for something new, and if I was under the protection of King Oberon himself, think of all the pranks and tricks I could play without fear of retribution.  

This was going to be fun.

“All right,” I agreed, grinning up at Oberon, who raised a thin silver brow in return.  “You have a deal, king.  I’ll join the Summer Court, as long as I get to practice my magic and play as many tricks as I want.”  

“Excellent.”  Oberon nodded and raised both hands.  “Then I name you Robin Goodfellow, jester of the Summer Court,” he announced in sudden, booming tones, and the branches of the trees shook, as if acknowledging his declaration.  Lowering his arms, the Summer lord gazed down at me with a sudden, almost proud smile.  “Welcome to the Seelie Court, Robin Goodfellow.  Wear your name proudly.  Perhaps someday the world will come to know it, as well.”

JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth, #2) by Adalyn Grace – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Imprint

Publication Date: February 02, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3 Stars

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

*I received an e-ARC via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a tricky one. Y’all know I love adventure, that’s what I’ve based my whole blog and Instagram on. But this sequel fell flat. It had adventure but it didn’t grip me. It was honestly a bit boring. Which sucks because I really enjoyed the first book!

Amora and Bastian had a lot of tension which I loved. And I thought it was cute/ funny when they would make each other jealous. But I have no idea why he didn’t give up on her. Amora was a five letter word that starts with a capitol B. Sorry not sorry. I didn’t like her in this book. I did like everyone else though.

I just want to talk about Vataea. LOVE her. She was what made the book honestly. I would love a spin off series of her! She was sass but not the bratty kind like Amora. I want more of her story!

Ferrick. Loved him too. I would like to see him in the spin off if there ever is one. You hear me? I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIM THERE. If you read the book, you know.

Bastian. Swoon. Definitely all the swoon. He deserved better. Wow I am really hard on Amora.

To be fair, she was dealing horribly with grief, stress, and loss. She just didn’t handle it well. BUT I appreciate her character growth, even if it happened REALLY quick at the end.

Well, I’ve talked about characters. How about the plot…? It was not as big a plot as the first book. The crew traveled the kingdom in search of an artifact. I liked learning more about the different islands and such, they were super interesting. But the actual plot was a bit lacking. And then it wrapped up super fast at the end.

Listen, I liked this book okay. I really liked the writing, the descriptions, the magic, Bastian. It sounds like an amazing world. One I’d want to visit for sure!

Adalyn Grace is a New York Times bestselling author of All the Stars and Teeth, which was named “2020’s biggest YA fantasy” by Entertainment Weekly.

Prior to becoming an author, Adalyn spent four years working in live theatre, acted as the managing editor of a nonprofit newspaper, and studied storytelling as an intern on Nickelodeon Animation’s popular series The Legend of Korra.

Local to San Diego, Adalyn spends her non-writing days by watching too much anime, and by playing video games with her bossy cat and two dorky dogs.

You can follow her on:
Twitter: @AdalynGrace_
Instagram: @authoradalyngrace