Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope [BLOG TOUR]

I’m so stoked to be a part of the blog tour organized by St. Martin’s Press and the author!

Song of Blood & Stone_cover image.jpgSummary: Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Here is an excerpt from this book:

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year. The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts. His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her
head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ing in, his muscle memory offended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a
confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle. The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari
army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­self. There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth. “You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the effort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the
gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ant to look at. He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.” She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him. “You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said.
“I doubt that.”
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again.“The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”
“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.” She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless. He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.” Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to
find shelter.” She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and
began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.
“What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.” He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”
“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”
“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

Be sure to check out this book – it is out today! If you like fantasy and clashing kingdoms, then this is a novel worth checking out!

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Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – The Shadow Game #1

This book has been making the rounds EVERYWHERE and I seriously cannot avoid it any longer. It is just far too intriguing and too many people have been raving about it for me to ignore it. So here I go!

30238163.jpgSummary (Goodreads): Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


My Rating:     2 star

Review: So I really wanted to love this book but I didn’t. While there were some elements that I really liked, there were others that I found less than appealing.

I found the idea behind this book to be really unique and interesting. Granted, I have never read Six of Crows and everyone is saying that this book shares many similarities to it, but this had a very noir vibe to it and I loved having a very different fantasy setting than the usual kingdoms.

I only wish there had been better worldbuilding! I wanted to know more about the Mizers and the way society came to be, but I either found that the author was too vague or just dumped all the information at one go. There was no smooth delivery of information and the story suffered for it; when I wanted more information, I didn’t get it and when I didn’t need the information, I got it. It also meant that the amount of information was too much to process, so I would forget details and wonder why certain things worked in a certain way in the book.

Initially, I really liked Enne and Levi. I thought they were both very unique characters. However, that opinion didn’t really stick for too long. As the story progressed, I didn’t really see how these two characters were supposed to connect when they kept doing their own thing. Each of them was handling their own separate crises that were connected through only the thinnest of plot lines. Enne was handling her issues quite well on her own, which is something I really liked because most novels make the heroine incapable of doing anything on her own. But then this meant that Levi was really not too necessary. There were all of these mentions of what Enne and Levi are supposed to be but I never actually saw any behaviour that matched it.

I also really didn’t like the romance. At first, I enjoyed the way Enne and Levi interacted with each other. However, the feelings of romance and attraction between them were too far-fetched for me. I just couldn’t understand how their emotions for each other were so deep so soon.

Overall, I thought this novel had a really unique premise but I didn’t think the execution was up to the mark. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 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:

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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 ~

 

 

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:

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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.


Review: THIS. BOOK. BLEW. MY. MIND.

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:

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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!

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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!

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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 ~

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I have been so excited for this book! Ever since I saw the cover reveal for it, it has taken everything I have to wait patiently for the book to be released. Now, I finally got the chance to read the book! Here is my review:

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Fell in love with this beautiful cover ~

Synopsis (Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


Review: I have conflicting thoughts regarding this book. While I finished it in just a few days, this wasn’t a perfect story for me with an equal portion of things I liked and didn’t like.

First of all, I absolutely loved the premise. It was so dark and it played perfectly with my love of dark faerie tales.

But this story took a LONG time to get going. The story begins with Alice telling us how she and her mother, Ella, have never had a stable home because they’ve been running away from this bad luck that keeps following them. When Alice’s mother gets kidnapped, Alice is determined to find her. While this is a very noble endeavour, I was bored out of my mind. There were all of these creepy hints about the Hinterland, but nothing really full blown for the longest time. It got to a point where I was ready to pull my hair out if Alice mentioned one more time about how she and her mother were always on the run. The journey she took here was far too long and could have been shortened to make the plot more interesting.

Of course, a long journey means that Alice has to have a trusty sidekick – and in this case, it is Ellery Finch. I know a lot of readers of this book love Ellery, but I did not. I couldn’t connect with him because he just seemed too forced in his behaviour and I didn’t feel like I ever got to know him. Maybe this was because the reader’s view of Ellery is coloured by Alice’s perception of him (since the story is told entirely from her perspective) but he just didn’t live up to my expectations of the sidekick.

And while I’m speaking about characters, I also didn’t like Alice for a large part of the story. All she does is get angry over nothing and complain. Oh, and judge Ellery for being rich, even though his wealth is what is aiding them in their search for Alice’s mother. Eventually, this anger issue gets resolved but it took way too long and was really not that necessary.

I know it sounds like everything I have to say is negative. But there were some things I really liked about this story.

There were moments when we got to actually hear some of the fairy tales from the Hinterland. That was hands-down the best part of the book; I love reading dark fairy tales and the author definitely delivered. I only wish there had been more of these stories scattered throughout the story because it would have made it all so much more interesting.

When Alice actually gets to the Hinterland, I found myself enjoying the story a lot more. There was some really cool world-building, and you really needed to focus in order to figure out what exactly was going on. The story started to get whimsical and creepy, and it was what I had been hoping for from the beginning.

By the time the novel ended, I was feeling quite happy …. but I don’t know if it was necessarily enough to negate my feelings from the beginning of the book.

Overall, I think that this was a novel with a very interesting premise. I liked the dark fairy tales and the creepiness of it all. I do think that this novel ran a bit too long, especially in the beginning and it would have been more enjoyable for readers if that had been cut down. I’m going to give this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3 …. but I am curious to see if there will be a sequel to this novel, and would be interested in reading more by this author.

Happy reading ~

 

The Sorceress and the Postgraduate by Clive Heritage-Tilley

I saw the premise of this novel and immediately wanted to read it. First of all, anything with witches and magic will sound appealing to me. The second is that this novel is tied to historical events and figures, which made it even more interesting. It had everything I wanted to read about so I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): When an Oxford University student decides to steal an intriguing object from the Pitt Rivers Museum to further his studies, he gets more than he bargained for.

It’s 1497 and Albrecht Durer produces the four witches engraving. But there were really five women, not four, and they were sorceresses. All five were condemned to death, but it was decided that the youngest English girl, Constance, should be saved and the four sorceresses cast a spell to suspend her in time.

What ensues is a captivating story as the student with the help of his new assistant embark on an adventure of magic and mystery, in search for secrets locked in the history of time.


Review: Well, this book did not live up to my expectations in any way. This novel could really have been a great read but it ended up really letting me down.

One thing that was really disappointing was that there was not much focus on the historical aspect. There were maybe just a handful or less references to historical figures or time points, and while this was definitely appreciated by me, it just wasn’t enough. If you are going to brand a story by saying it is historical fiction, it needs to be a lot more historical than this!

One of my biggest issues was with the lack of proper development with the story. Things are pretty much just told to the reader rather than shown. We are told what happened to lead to the 4 sorceresses saving Constance. We are told by Constance about her relationship with Albrecht Durer. We are told what led the Oxford student to steal the object. All of these things (and many more) could have been shown if the author had lengthened the story to include the relevant events. It was also disconcerting how quickly Constance adjusted to the modern day. For someone trapped in a bottle, she adapted way too quickly to her surroundings. There was no trace of an antiquated style of speaking, no shock from seeing all the new inventions around, just the enthusiasm that a tourist would show when traveling to a new country. Even the thoughts and feelings of the Oxford student who discovered her lacked strong development, and seemed to be very … childish.

The writing style of this novel was really not up to my standards. It read like the musings of a teenager rather than work that has been shown to an editor. It was all very childish and if I had been a preteen, I would have enjoyed this. But there was no indication that this book was meant for a younger audience, and if I’m to judge it as an adult book, it falls way off the mark there.

Believe me when I say that I really wanted to enjoy this book. However, the childish writing and lack of proper development of the story was something I could not get past. I have to give this a 1/5 stars.

I received this advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~