After Alice by Gregory Macguire

The first book I ever read by Gregory Maguire was Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and it was fantastic. It was a different take on the classic Cinderella story and it was the first time I ever read a retelling. You could say that this is what got me into this genre in the first place. With After Alice, I had the awesome opportunity to buddy read this book with a bunch of bookish friends from my bookstagram account! Every week, we would meet up online to discuss the novel. As someone who hasn’t really analyzed a book since high school, it was nice to get back into that style of reading in an informal setting. Anyways, I’ve been blabbering for too long, let me get onto my review:

Summary (Goodreads):  When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.

Review: I actually read this book in 2 formats: physical book and audiobook. I was a bit worried that switching between these two would affect my perception of the story, but I am happy to say that it did not. But let’s get on to my actual feelings about this book.

This was not my favourite book by Gregory Maguire. In fact, I didn’t really like this book at all. I think that the problem I faced with this novel was that it was trying to do too much and accomplishing very little in the process.

This book is all about what happens after Alice goes to Wonderland, and the author decided to look at this in 2 ways: through Ada’s perspective as she goes searching for Alice, and through the perspective of Alice’s sister, Lydia, who is stuck in England and must find her there. The concept was great; we get a full picture of the effects of Alice’s disappearance. But the way the story was told just didn’t work for me.

For one thing, the sections with Lydia didn’t really interest me. I felt like Maguire made her character very unlikable and didn’t give her many strengths. I wish she had had some positives to her because it seemed really unfair that she shouldn’t have something to make her seem better. I also found that the descriptions of life in England, while interesting and historically accurate, were boring. I didn’t really want to read about decorum and debate about societal views and morals. I just wanted to go to Wonderland.

Now, when it came to Ada’s time in Wonderland, I was very intrigued. Ada is a very different character from Alice; she’s much more logical and mature, almost like an adult than a child. Seeing Wonderland through her eyes, and watching how she changes and finds her identity was amazing. I just wish there were more of it. Every time the story took me out of Ada’s chapter and into Lydia’s, I would groan on the inside. Ada’s journey was far more interesting and I liked her practical character very much.

There was also the introduction of another character named Siam. I really liked how the author was able to develop his story even without giving him a voice. But if I’m honest, his character was unnecessary. Siam barely got a chance in the spotlight and including him made me want to read more from his perspective – and left me feeling disappointed when he didn’t really get the chance to do so.

I also had a problem with the language. Now, I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp of the English language… but this book had my head spinning and not in a nice way. The overly flowery and descriptive language made it hard to get through the book and I would find my attention slipping away. Even if you are personifying the Victorian era, there is no need for the writing to be so difficult to understand, especially when there really isn’t anything meaningful being said. My biggest problem with the wording and language style of this book is that the author was deliberately using wordy language in an attempt to sound more impressive – but when you make your way through all that mess, you realize it’s really nothing that impressive at all. I did not like this at all; it felt like the experience was being cheapened for me.

My final thoughts about this book was that it could have been so much better. It was such an interesting concept but the author overcomplicated it by trying to put too many themes and characters in and not fully developing them. There was also the unnecessary language that had the opposite effect of seeming witty. While I enjoyed reading this in a buddy setting and I liked the revelations that we discovered as a group, this is not a book that I enjoyed. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~



Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with anything related to Every Heart A Doorway. It was the first book I read by Seanan McGuire, and it blew my mind. Every chance I get to jump back into that whimsical and twisted world, I take it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book, and it was such a great read! Here’s my review:

27366528Summary (Goodreads): Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Review: I’m aware that this is a very short summary of the book … but really, if any more detail was given, then the story would be ruined. Let me begin by saying that I highly recommend you to read Every Heart A Doorway before reading this one; while it may be marketed as a standalone, there are too many references and details to the original book for that to work. Reading Every Heart A Doorway will really give you a glimpse into the whimsical mayhem that is this world – or rather, worlds.

If you’ve read the other books that are part of this series, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It features a diverse group of characters, all from different worlds that come together to help Rini, a stranger who literally fell into their lives. I love all of the characters in this book; they are vibrant, and unique, and beautifully created. There is nothing I love more than good characters – and these ones are great! I enjoyed reading about the ways they interacted, how they learned to respect the differences that made each person unique, and how much they embraced their own uniqueness. Not only are the characters diverse because of their experiences in their different “worlds”, they have diverse ethnic background, gender identities, and abilities. I love that this book focused on body image and identity, highlighting the difficulties and assumptions that come with these issues as well as ways in which to feel positive about these issues. It’s important for an author to talk about real-life issues and the way that Seanan McGuire does it is phenomenal; underneath all the whimsical magic of the story lies important messages that everyone needs to hear.

I also love the setting. It is gorgeous and magical and open to every possible thing you can imagine. This book series is amazing because of the beautiful way the author describes everything – and I’m not going to say any more on this because I want you to experience it for yourselves!

The great thing about this book is that it is really short, but leaves plenty of avenues to explore and discover. I love the sense of adventure in this book and how things make no sense and yet are still logical. It was perfect and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store for this series!

I really cannot rave more about this book. I love this series so much because it is so out of the norm. I have no idea how the author comes up with these crazy ideas … but I hope it never stops! I love that these books have deeper meanings and themes underneath the surface and features a diverse host of characters. For all those reasons, I’m giving this 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

There have been so many fantasy novels that have been coming out recently that I’m struggling to decide where to start! I’ve seen so many Instagram posts about this book, and it has such a beautiful cover that I had to select this one! Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern King35098412dom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Review: This was an interesting book, but definitely more on the generic side of this genre.

What I loved the most about this book was the world-building. The descriptions of the setting was gorgeous and I loved that the author took the time to develop an interesting talent system. I wish there had been more emphasis on Maevan culture, as I was curious to juxtapose Maevana with Valenia; the differences that were mentioned sounded more like personality traits rather than actual cultural variations. I wanted to learn more about magic in Maevana, especially since that is kind of what makes a fantasy story, well, fantasy!

I didn’t love Brienna’s character too much because she didn’t really have much of a personality. On the plus side, she wasn’t stupid; she could put together clues and formulate plans. But I can’t really say if there was anything more to her.

I really liked the first half of the story, when Brienna was in school with her friends and trying to get scouted for her talent. It was the only semi-unique thing about the story. However, the rest of the novel was a bit … boring. Nothing really happens for the longest time. She just travels, and then waits around to meet other people, and then continues to do ordinary-ish stuff until it’s time for the real action to take place. At least if there had been more instances of magic or understanding of the Maevan culture, I wouldn’t have been as bored. But there wasn’t.

The ending of this novel was really simplistic. Everything was over and resolved far too quickly for me to be satisfied. It was just blah for me, which was disappointing since it was the scene I was most excited to read. It just didn’t work.

Lastly, I didn’t like the romance in this book. This is a personal pet peeve I have: I don’t like relationships between students and teachers. It feels weird and wrong to me, and I just can’t find it within myself to think of it as sweet or cute. Maybe others won’t be as bothered, but I certainly was!

Overall, this was an okay novel. It had some beautiful descriptions, but the story was generic, the characters didn’t have as much personality as I would have liked, and the ending was just too easy. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~


Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill

One thing I need to learn to stop doing is jumping at a book because it has a gorgeous cover. Take, for instance, Ever the Hunted. Look at this cover and tell me it isn’t pretty:


I saw this cover and immediately wanted to read it. It promised to be an interesting story. It was not.

Summary (Goodreads): Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Review: Everything you expect to find in a stereotypical YA fantasy novel is in this book. And that’s why it didn’t work for me. I like to see variation, something unique … and there was none of that.

In the beginning, the story showed some promise. There was a bit of excitement as the story started off with a bang. I could sense the desperation of Britta as she found herself in a dangerous situation.

But this excitement didn’t last too long.

I quickly grew tired of Britta’s character. For one thing, she repeats the same thing over and over again. Another thing is that she is seriously not smart. I hate when the author makes the main character unable to figure out even the most basic clues. Strong and intelligent protagonists are not a bad thing! In any case, Britta was unable to put anything together. She also seems incapable of thinking about anything other than romance because every other sentence was about how she had feelings for Cohen and whether he reciprocated. I mean, considering the seriousness of her situation, this may not have been the perfect time to wonder if he liked you.

And then came the special snowflake effect. Britta is a special snowflake. So, not only is she unintelligent and ridiculously infatuated, she is also special. And that’s supposed to make the readers connect with her.

I also thought the romance angle was nothing great. I know I’m someone who generally doesn’t like romance, but the last few books that I’ve read in the fantasy genre have had great romances. This book was not one of them. It was generic, featuring your stereotypical hot guy friend who the protagonist has a crush on. It didn’t do anything for me.

But the other major problem with this book is that there was barely any world-building. There is a war between two countries. But there is no detail into how this came to be, what the conflict is about, the political climate and the differences. The world in this novel was described with the bare minimum needed for the story to move along. And this is such a shame because fantasy novels really need to have great world-building for the story to shine.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with Ever the Hunted. It didn’t give me anything new and it was disappointing to see all of this potential go to waste. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~



Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

I read Seraphina a while back and I fell in love. It had dragons and court life and great world-building. It was definitely very different from most fantasy stories I’ve read but I enjoyed it immensely. When I saw that LibraryThing was hosting an Early Reviewer giveaway for Tess of the Road, I immediately jumped at the chance, and was delighted to receive a copy. From the synopsis, I was aware that the book took place in the world of Seraphina and I was excited to get back into it. Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): 

33123849In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Review: Getting back into the world created in Seraphina through the eyes of a new character was really exciting for me. That being said, I would HIGHLY recommend that you read Seraphina before this one; this novel draws on many terms and concepts from Seraphina and the author doesn’t really take the time to explain it again in this book, so readers might find themselves lost.

When I started reading this novel, I was surprised to find that it was quite slow. Based on the premise, I think I was expecting a faster pace to the story. I also found Tess’s character to be … well, not to my liking. She is quite selfish and a little too impulsive. However, as I was thinking this, I also found myself liking this choice for a protagonist. I have always favoured flawed main characters to perfect one – and Tess is definitely in the former category.

As the story continues, there is an allusion to an incident that Tess was involved in that has made her undesirable and given her a bad reputation – and it is connected to a sexual encounter. The mystery surrounding this incident immediately made me want to know more, and it served as a pushing force for me to continue with the story. At the same time, I was surprised that the author wanted to discuss sex and sexuality; I hadn’t pegged this as the direction for this novel.

One of the major problems I encountered in this book was that it had very slow pacing. Not much happens in this story. Tess goes on a journey to escape life in a nunnery – and to escape the judgmental attitude of her family and friends. There are bouts of adventure but for the most part, there was just a lot of walking and talking and philosophizing. Now, I’m not really a fan of philosophy so I found some of these talks to be a little tedious to get through but I found that they were important for setting the stage for some of the moral issues the author explores.

Because while Tess was going through a boring outward journey, she was going through a rigorous inward journey. This novel was all about Tess’s ingrained views on sexuality and proper behaviour (as she was taught by her mother) and the way her experiences and the views of others’ challenges these beliefs. The reader gets to see how Tess has been bullied and shamed into feeling inferior and how she rises from this and starts to love herself again. I think that this theme is a really important one to cover and I think that, while the author had a shaky start with it in the beginning, it all came together quite well in the end.

This is a book that won’t work for everyone. The slow pacing and the initial un-likable-ness of Tess can be offputting for a lot of readers. But if you push through, you’ll see that this novel has its merits. It’s all about self-love and taking care of oneself. It’s about different ways to think about sex and sexuality, and the issues of being judged by traditionalist views on a female’s role in the bedroom. I like how the novel challenged these issues through Tess’s character and for that reason, I’m going to give this a 3.5/5 stars. The reason I can’t give it a higher rating is because the pacing was difficult to deal with and there wasn’t really much of a plot.

This is a novel I would recommend for fans of Seraphina and for those who are looking for a novel that looks into morality through the genre of fantasy.

Happy reading ~

Top Books of February

February has been a crazy month for me on all fronts! I’ve been ramping up work in my Masters and I’ve also been trying to improve my blog and bookstagram presence. I also really wanted to make a dent in my eARC pile … but that hasn’t gone as well as I wanted. However, I did read some fantastic books and I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the awesome reads!

Top Books:                      


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

This was hands-down an absolutely wonderful read. There is no better book to describe the genre of fantasy than this one. If you haven’t already read my previous post where I gushed about it, well, I really had no complaints about this one. I loved the characters, as they were just so unique and vividly portrayed; they literally leaped off the page! The story was also extremely interesting, with great-building. If you are an avid lover of fantasy, then this is not a book you want to miss! It may be long, but it is well worth the effort!



Furyborn by Claire Legrand

This was an eARC that I received from Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire (publisher) and I am so glad I got the chance to read it! It’s got 2 badass female protagonists (you know that’s my weakness) and tons of action to keep any reader interested! Also, I really liked the romance in this novel; it made sense and wasn’t too dramatic (and this is high praise from me!). This is the first in a series, and I’m excited to see where the story is going to go from here.


33918881The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco 

This eARC (thanks Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire) has been super high on my TBR list because I absolutely adored The Bone Witch (first book in the series); this book was different in terms of its focus because it was plot-driven rather than detail-oriented but it still delivered on intrigue and I devoured it in one day!



32920226Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

Unlike the other novels I’ve mentioned above, this is a very sobering story that uses magical realism to explore the themes of grief and slavery. Through alternating narratives from a mother and her son, we read about how memories can haunt people. This was a vivid and haunting story that kept me up all night. It is a very thought-provoking story and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.



34913737The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn 

This was a slower paced supernatural novel that I really enjoyed. This ARC was by an author who is known for his stories about witches but this was my first time reading anything by him. With tons of characters and a plot that intensified with every chapter, fans of supernatural fiction would really enjoy this book!



28096541The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed 

This novel packs all the punches as it tackles the issues of consent, rape, sexual assault, and stigma – and these are just a few of the topics! It was powerfully charged and I was amazed at the way the author managed to weave a story while handling such explosive content. This is a novel I would like everyone to read because it is just so relevant for our society.



35390279 The Night Child by Anna Quinn

This was a novel that was unexpectedly dark but very good. It deals with a very serious topic: child abuse. It was an emotionally evocative story and I found myself really connecting with the characters in the story. This is a short read but it does justice to the issues it addresses. If you can handle the content, then this is a very good psychological novel.



These were the novels that really stuck out in my mind from this month! I wish I had been able to read more books and meet all of my reading goals, but I’m glad I took the time to get to these gems!

How did your February book haul go? What were your most memorable books of the month? Comment and let me know! 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Although I’ve heard of Laini Taylor, I’ve never read anything by her. I’ve seen loads of posts about her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and while I’ve been intrigued, I just haven’t found the time to get into it. However, I couldn’t resist this novel. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis was too good to pass up. So, here is my review:


Synopsis (Goodreads): The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.


I’m trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words and I’m struggling so much because all I can thinks is woah. It was that good of a read! I know that this book has been hyped up a lot, and I’m usually someone who finds that hyped reads aren’t as great as they are made out to be. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE. This book lives up to the hype and then some!

This book is so beautifully written. It is poetic, and magical, and everything you imagine when you think of fantasy. Regardless of whose perspective we read, the writing is haunting and emotional; there were so many instances where the words and the emotions they evoked tore at my heart. I was spellbound and couldn’t stop myself from reading this book.

The characters are fantastic in this book. They are unique and whimsical, yet easy to connect with. The relationships between everyone and the conversations were so believable and natural that it felt as if I was right there listening to it. I loved Lazlo and his goodness, his research skills, and his love of Weep. His simplicity made me smile and he quickly became a favourite character.

The plot for this novel is just so good. There is depth, there is complexity, and there is the right balance of action and world-building. I was able to predict the revelation that occurred in the end of this book, but that just made me even happier with the story; I don’t always need shocking twists and turns to keep me happy, just a well-developed story.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my experience of this book. It was fantastic and I am so glad I gave in and read it. I cannot wait for the next book in the series! I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves fantasy, and I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~




The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco – The Bone Witch #2

When I first read The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, I absolutely adored it. I love that it reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha – but with a fantasy twist! I was excited to see where the author would go with the second book, considering that The Bone Witch ended on a cliffhanger … so here is my review:


Summary (Goodreads): No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Review: Considering that it had been a while since I had read the first book, I struggled a bit to recall the different elements of the story and the connections between the different characters. But once I refreshed my memory, I was able to really enjoy the story.

This novel was a lot more action-packed than the first book, which would please a lot of people who had struggled with the slower pace of The Bone Witch. I liked that the story expanded beyond the Memoirs of a Geisha flow because it allowed me to connect with the characters in a different way than before and let me see them in action. However, there was a downside to the faster pace: I had gotten used to the detail-oriented storytelling from the first book, and having a faster pace meant that there wasn’t as much detail or world-building. With The Bone Witch, I fell in love with the world that was created. And while I fell in love with the plot and character in this novel, I still wanted more descriptions of this gorgeous universe that the story was taking place in.

Not only was the pace faster, the plot was also really engaging. I loved the action, and the fighting and the way the different characters had to work together to resolve the problems at hand. I also loved all of the romances that took place, which is a rare compliment to hear from me! My favourite parts of the story were the excerpts from the Bard’s perspectives because they showed the present situation, whereas the rest of the story told episodes from the past (but in present tense), and they allowed the reader to see Tea, the heroine, as a complex person struggling with the battle between good and evil. At times, the Bard’s passages were confusing, but it all came together beautifully to tell an intriguing and exciting story.

Overall, I think I quite enjoyed this book almost as much as The Bone Witch. It had a beautiful cover, and an exciting story with a great cast of characters. I’m glad I stuck with this series and that the sequel lived up to my expectations. I cannot wait to read the conclusion to this trilogy as I’m sure it is going to be just as fantastic as this book! I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Furyborn by Claire Legrand – Empirium #1

I received this novel as an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I went for this novel because I saw a ton of people talking about how amazing it was. As a fantasy lover, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this book. When I saw it posted on Edelweiss, I decided to request it. WHAT A GREAT CHOICE ON MY PART!


Summary (Goodreads): When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Review: This was such a great novel and I literally could not pull away from it.

When I first started reading this novel, I was intrigued but not completely engrossed in the story. It starts off a bit slowly, and I was wondering when it would pick up speed. And then it did. And it was AWESOME!

I loved that the story was told from the alternating perspectives of two strong female characters. These ladies are not your average protagonists; they had a good blend of positive and negative characteristics. I don’t really enjoy novels where the author creates the “almost-perfect” protagonist because it doesn’t allow me to connect with them; with this book, not only was I able to connect with the characters, I was also able to view them as real human beings that I might encounter in my everyday life (sans all the magical elements, of course).

I also really enjoyed the writing style. The beginning of each chapter was a quote from a letter or document or book, and it’s actually important to read it because it gives clues as to the importance or significance of the events that are about to unfold in that chapter. I also loved that every chapter ended on a cliffhanger. It made me want to rush right into the next one!

Surprisingly enough, I thought the romance in this novel was handled really well. For both of the protagonists, the love interest made sense and there was a great buildup. I literally never give positive comments about romance in a story, but I must admit that this one was quite well done!

Overall, I had a fantastic experience with this book. It had great pacing, 2 awesome storylines, and 2 fierce female protagonists! Check this book out for your next fantasy read! I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

Books that involve witchcraft or covens are my thing. I will literally devour any book that mentions the word “witch” in it because I am THAT obsessed! I’m so glad I got to read an ARC of this book because it was such a fantastic read and fulfilled my need for dark stories!


Summary (Goodreads): Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Review: I never realized how much I love urban fantasy until recently, but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to read. And this book is such a fantastic addition to the genre.

One of the things I loved about the story was the pacing. This was not a very fast-paced story, but the slower pace worked very well because it allowed for the development of the darker elements. And the dark aspects of the story were worth waiting for! I knew this story wasn’t going to be a lighthearted read but even I was taken aback by the sheer evil mentioned in this book – and I loved it! The writing style that the author used was also perfect for building up tension in the plot and between the different characters. There was also no fakeness to any of the character interactions or situations; every remark, every scene was carefully crafted and served a higher purpose of solidifying the themes of the story.

There were quite a few characters to keep track of, and I will admit that I struggled here a bit. The author definitely did a great job of making each of them unique, but I would find myself forgetting how everyone was related or how old the characters were. The author does provide a helpful list of characters at the end of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend readers look at it while they are still reading the story because some of the descriptions of the characters can be spoilers.

But the plot was to die for: it was gripping, dark, and scary. It was everything I could ask for in an urban story centered around powerful witch families and covens.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this dark urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The characters, writing style, and eerie plot were absolutely amazing and I am definitely going to be reading more books by this author in the near future! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~