BOOK REVIEW: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian

Looking back through Goodreads, I somehow forgot to post this review back in March, whoops! So here we go.....

BOOK REVIEW: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura SebastianLady Smoke (Ash Princess #2)
by Laura Sebastian
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself

Review:

Looking back, Lady Smoke was my favorite book in this trilogy.  There was lots of action and I loved how the characters worked together and grew. With sweaty palms and my heart in my throat, some of the moments were definitely intense.  The games and strategies they set in place were so much fun to watch unfold.  It added to the unknown feel, made the story more emotional and I loved every minute of it.  With the reappearance of some old faces, this book had it all.  Lady Smoke was definitely my favorite in the Ash Princess Trilogy.

“You want something,” he says quietly, trying to sit up straighter. Heron didn’t do a thorough job of healing him, and he still winces in pain. Bruised ribs, maybe.
“I didn’t realize it was like this,” I tell him. “I had no idea.”
Søren looks at me incredulously before his gaze softens. “It’s war,” he says. “This is how it goes. Your friend is right. We both know I’ve done worse things.”

 
Artemisia

We must also bring them hope,” she said, as if it were a physical thing we could deliver in a basket tied with ribbon. As if it were easy to share with others when it’s hard enough to keep my own hope from dying.
When I say as much to Artemisia, she shakes her head. “Hope is contagious,” she says. “When you have enough, it spreads naturally.”

Artemisia became one of my favorites.  She was such an unknown in Ash Princess.  And she came across as cold.  But in this book, I started to absolutely love her.  Artemisia was complicated and the more we learned about her, it explained all of her complexities.  One of my favorite things was watching how Theo and her interacted.  I loved watching their dynamics play out.  Watching them learn to trust and work together was one of my favorite things in this story.  I could easily read a spin-off series about Artemisia!

 

Søren

The last time I saw him, I had betrayed him and he had told me he loved me anyway. He doesn’t. He can’t love me.

Yes Søren had done horrific things, and had gone along with some of his father’s wishes, but it didn’t matter me to.  When I looked at him, I didn’t just see all the blood on his hands and soul.  That was partly because he was raised by a monster. So when he was finally free, I loved the choice he made.  He had so much redemption in him and I was his biggest champion.  I loved how smart he was and how quick he was in situations.  He was a true warrior and survivor.  And I loved how Søren was Theo’s biggest supporter.

 

Theodosia

I did what I had to do, I tell myself again, and though that might be the truth, it doesn’t ease the guilt that’s worked its way under my skin.

I love that Theo was smart and who she chose to trust. But most of all, I loved that she couldn’t control how she felt.  No matter how hard she tried. She was fierce, brave, yet she still had a heart. In my eyes she had everything that would someday make her a great ruler!  Especially when she stood up for what she believed in.

I know him and he knows me and the darkest parts of our souls match.

The plans that came together were exciting and the way the politics played into this story was fascinating!  If you’re a fan of the first book or fantasy, then this book is for you!  Lady Smoke set the stage for the final book, and I was so excited to see how it was all going to end!

BOOK REVIEW: A Cowboy State of Mind (Creedence Horse Rescue #1) by Jennie Marts

BOOK REVIEW: A Cowboy State of Mind (Creedence Horse Rescue #1) by Jennie MartsA Cowboy State of Mind (Creedence Horse Rescue #1)
by Jennie Marts
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Scarred and battered loner Zane Taylor has a gift with animals, particularly horses, but he's at a total loss when it comes to knowing how to handle women. Even though he's sworn off love, he can't seem to stay away from Bryn Callahan. He's known for being a horse whisperer, but can't seem to find his voice at all where Bryn is concerned.

Bryn Callahan has a heart for strays, but she is through trying to save damaged men. She vows to only date nice guys, which is a category that does not include Zane Taylor. Too bad he's the only one who sets her pulse racing every time she's around him.

Starting a horse rescue ranch wasn't in Bryn's plan, but try telling that to the assembly of abandoned animals that have found their way to her doorstep. And when a chance encounter with a horse headed for slaughter brings Zane and Bryn together, they find themselves given a chance to save not just the horse, but maybe each other...

Review:

With small town charm, characters that were easy to love and a story line that melted my heart, A Cowboy State of Mind had it all!  I laughed, cried and swooned hard.  So if you love cowboys and romance, then you definitely need to look at adding this one to your tbr!

“It was nothing.”
It hadn’t been nothing to her. It had been everything.

I had already fallen hard for Zane Taylor in Wish Upon a CowboyHe was quiet and loyal.  And I loved that he stepped up and helped when needed.  He was such a good person.  Plus I adored his border collie, that he claimed wasn’t his, but he still let her sleep in his bed at night ha!  But my heart bled for Zane.  Other judged him by his scar.  And his upbringing and current situation with his dad made my heart hurt for him.  Thankfully, there was lots of brightness in his life.  Especially anytime he was around Bryn.

She was done saving others. She wanted security and stability. Safety. And when it came to being around Zane Taylor, her heart was anything but safe.

Zane was already head over heels in lust with Bryn, and I couldn’t blame him.  I adored her too!    Bryn Callahan was a kind hearted, quirky, lovable woman who I instantly connected with.  She truly had the biggest heart ever and took in strays without a second thought.  When she saved a horse’s life, that brought Zane back into her life.  And while you could tell that they both liked each other, Bryn tried her best not to get attached.  Zane was supposed to leave the state for work.  But the heart wants what the heart wants.

He didn’t know what to say, how to put into words what her words meant to him. All he could do was show her. He pressed his lips to hers and kissed her with everything in him.

Their love of animals brought Zane and Bryn together again and again.  And I loved that we got to hear both of their thoughts!  Their romance was sweet and slow, but the sexier moments were oh so hot!  But they had a lot of obstacles in their way, besides Zane leaving town.  Like Bryn’s past, her family to Zane not having the best faith in himself.  I just wanted to take all of the distractions away and push them together.  Because anytime they were around the other, it was fabulous!

“That’s the thing about love. We don’t ask for it, but sometimes we get it anyway.”

A Cowboy State of Mind should have easily been a 4.5/5 Star rating for me.  But I struggled with this book.  I’m overly sensitive to animals being in dangerous situations or hurt.  And don’t worry, spoiler alert, all the animals ended up perfectly fine.  But my little girl dog had been sick for months.  So I struggled greatly reading about hurt animals while she was snuggled up next to me extremely sick.  I truly couldn’t handle the animal parts at all, and would put this book down for days to even weeks at a time.  Many, many times.  I’m sure I’m an anomaly, but I wanted to explain why my heart couldn’t fully be in this story.

He brushed her hair back from her forehead, his gaze intense and deep as he stared into her eyes. “The fallin’ is easy, darlin ’. It’s the jumpin’ that takes the strength of will.”
She swallowed, emotion suddenly thickening her throat, as if her body knew that he wasn’t just talking about the ledge. She was already falling, and falling hard, for Zane Taylor, but was she really ready to jump headlong into this thing with him?
He dipped his head and kissed the side of her neck, the scruff of his whiskered chin scraping the delicate skin. She tipped her head back and sighed as she fell.

A Cowboy State of Mind had a happy ending for all, four and three legged animals included.  And I adored Zane and Bryn.  If you love romances that have sexy cowboys in them, heartwarming characters and animals and a story line that will make you root for HEAs, then definitely check this one out.  Jennie Marts is always a huge hit for me, I was just too sensitive with the topic of this book, to make this one a favorite.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Always Be My Baby by Mary Ting

BOOK REVIEW: Always Be My Baby by Mary TingAlways Be My Baby by Mary Ting
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Cammy is so furious when she catches her boyfriend kissing another girl at a frat party that she storms out of her own apartment. Letting go of your first love is not an easy thing to do, and he makes it harder by swearing he’s innocent and trying to win her back. But when Cammy meets Grayson Parker, he shows her how different some guys can be. Can Cammy trust her boyfriend and give him another chance? Or will she allow Grayson to heal her wounds and erase the scars?

Review:

Always Be My Baby was absolutely adorable and an enjoyable quick read!   This story took place in the 90s and from dating, to first love, to waiting for someone to page you lol, I felt like I was back in time!  Even the songs had me humming while reading.  I kept finding myself smiling with all of the nostalgia and charming story line.  So if you’re looking for a cute, quick romance then definitely add this one on your list!

I suddenly forgot his name. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot who and where I was. – Cammy

Right away I liked Cammy and felt all the sympathy in the world for her.  The story started in college with Cammy breaking up with her boyfriend, Lucas.  She had walked into a party and saw him kissing another girl.  But there was so much more to her then a girl with a wounded heart.  As we got to know her, I loved that she was kind, smart, unsure at times, stumbled over her words and even made silly little mistakes.  She was so relatable and I could easily see myself doing those things when I was her age.

He left, leaving me breathless and my heart soaring to the sky.

On top of hearing Cammy’s thoughts, we also got two different POVs.  To say I didn’t expect to get Lucas’ POV would be the hugest understatement ever lol.  My mind was shocked and I was so nervous.  Lucas swore he didn’t kiss her back, and the girl had kissed him first.  Were we supposed to believe him?  Like him?  Forgive him?  I didn’t know what to feel.  But we also got another POV, Grayson.  And Grayson was such a surprise.  He could be so cold and cocky.  But he seemed to know exactly what he wanted.  And that was Cammie.  So of course my heart was nervous with how this was all going to unfold.

“I-I tend to bite my pencil during tests or when I get nervous,” I confessed.
His eyebrows lifted and his lips spread wickedly. Leaning closer, his shoulder touched mine and his leg brushed my knee, and he whispered, “I think we’d go well together. I like to bite, too. I’d like to see what else you can do with your teeth.”

I loved how the romance played out in this story!  I can’t say much, but it was about finding confidence in yourself and figuring out what you truly want.  Learning to trust your instincts and relying on those that have your back and heart’s best interest.  From first kisses, to figuring out people’s feelings, to being nervous of the unknown, I enjoyed every minute of this story!

You deserve someone that cares about you when you’re sick. You deserve someone that walks you home.
Leah’s words echoed in my mind.

And I just have to say that this is the second Mary Ting book where female relationships were such a gem!  I loved the friendship between Cammy and Leah. They were the truest of beasties who loved each other with their whole hearts.  They took care of each other and were thoughtful and loving to one another.  They reminded me of the type of relationship I have with my bestest of friends.  It was such a breath of fresh air seeing this type of relationship portrayed in a college aged story!

“…I’m just a guy hoping maybe one day we can be more than friends.” I should have punched myself, or I should have let her punch me. I was an ass. She was hurting and I sprung my words on her as if she didn’t have anything else to worry about. – Grayson

Always Be My Baby warmed my heart!  And I saw so many parallels to my college experience – the chicken noodle soup, walking me places, someone showing you how people can truly be, having your heart on the line and being nervous to take a step, I saw my college years in Cammy’s life!  I even found myself clapping out loud for something Cammy did later on in the story.  While this was a novella, it sure didn’t feel like one.  I had become attached to her and was proud of what she had done!  So with 90s nostalgia, feelings of first love, and friendship, this book was so much fun to read! 

Surprise Cover Reveal: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that I am obsessed with From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire!  So I’m beyond excited to help share the cover of The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout!  It’s coming April 20, 2021 and the cover is absolutely gorgeous!  Check it out below…..

 

 

Bow Before Your Queen Or Bleed Before Her…
 


Pre-order your copy today→

Amazon I Amazon Worldwide I Apple Books I Kobo

Hardback I Paperback

Google Play: Coming soon

 

Anybody else screaming?!  I SO did!  This series has my favorite covers ever and I’ll be counting down the days until I can be back in this world!  I can’t wait!

BOOK REVIEW: Immortal Fire (Red Winter Trilogy #3) by Annette Marie

BOOK REVIEW: Immortal Fire (Red Winter Trilogy #3) by Annette MarieImmortal Fire (Red Winter Trilogy #3)
by Annette Marie
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Once, Emi believed the heavenly gods were righteous and wise, while the earthly yokai spirits were bloodthirsty and evil. But with a traitorous deity poised to destroy her world, and the yokai standing as humanity's only defense, the lies of her upbringing have toppled to reveal a far more terrifying reality.

Despite the looming threat, Emi can't escape her greatest distraction: Shiro, the fox yokai who has so deftly claimed her heart for his own. Soon—too soon—she will have to break the curse that binds his magic and memories. And once the ancient power inside him awakens, the yokai she loves will be changed forever.

As the earthly gods gather to wage war against the heavens, Emi and Shiro must gamble everything to turn the tide against their immortal, all-powerful foes. Together, they will find a way to save her world—even if it means losing each other.

Review:

*Buddy read with Sophie @ Beware of the Reader and Raven @ Dreamy Addictions*

Immortal Fire was an epic conclusion to a thrilling trilogy!  I devoured every page and yet at the same time, I wanted to slow down and savor every moment.  I became so attached to these characters, I didn’t want my time to end with them.  With twists, sacrifice, love and friendship flowing throughout the pages, this book was impossible to put down.  I can’t ever recommend this trilogy enough!  Here are a few reasons why you should pick up this book….

“Now that I’ve finally found you, why must I lose you?” His torment cut through her, rending her heart. “Every instinct I possess demands that I protect you, that I save you. But I can’t. I can’t stop this.”

The story:

Shiro drew her up and, for a single instant among the chaos, he crushed her against his chest, his face in her hair. Somehow her arms were around his neck, and she held him just as tightly, knowing it was their final embrace, their final moment together. There would be no more time for farewells.

Immortal Fire was a beautiful and deadly tale.  There were lots of obstacles in their way.  So I kept finding myself with sweaty palms.  I didn’t always feel like I knew what was going to happen next and I’d get so nervous it felt like my stomach was tied up in knots.  So of course I kept finding myself gasping out loud.  And again there were elements to the story that creeped me out.  The kanashibari…ugh *shudders*.  With an action packed story and some epic battles, this book had it all.

 

The characters:

“Saving my life won’t earn you Amaterasu’s forgiveness!” She shouted the words, her hands clenching with sudden fury. “I would rather die fighting than give up!”
His dark eyes widened.

Emi was perseverance.  No matter how bleak the situation was, she kept trying.  And even though it felt like sometimes she didn’t even get two second to breathe, and I was terrified for her, she kept going.  I loved how much she continued to grow and how much she was capable of thinking on her feet!

“Command me, Emi.”
This time, her heart didn’t stumble. It soared. How casually, how confidently he ordered her to rule him. Without restriction, without hesitation or doubt, he’d demanded she ask him for anything she wanted. Anything she desired.
A shiver ran through her. Before she could think, before she even realized she was speaking, the words slipped from her traitorous tongue.
“Kiss me.”

Shiro was the ultimate book boyfriend.  He was always thoughtful of Emi.  And I loved how he always listened to her.  How he always chose her.  And even when he was possessive of her.  I’ve said it before, but the lengths Shiro would go to protect Emi made my heart soar.  Add in the fact that he made me laugh and had so much wisdom and insight.  Sigh.  I loved everything about Shiro.

He staggered back a step, holding his hands away from her as though he had no idea how an embrace worked. She pressed her face against his shoulder, tears streaking her cheeks.
“Thank you, Yumei,” she choked.
“She’s crying,” he growled at Shiro.
“Try returning her embrace,” Shiro said with a snicker. “That might help.”

Yumei was the truest of friends to Emi and Shiro, even if he would never acknowledge it lol!    He was still cunning, cut throat and wickedly handsome, yet friendship entered his heart.  And I loved seeing how much he would do to help his friends in need.  With darkness radiating around him and never knowing what he was thinking, I loved watching Yumei in this story.  He could be so matter of fact and he made me laugh.  But I loved how protective Yumei was of Emi and Shiro and I’m hoping he gets his own story some day!

 

The ending:

“I would have kept you forever, little miko.” His words were soft, almost soundless. “I would have taken you with me wherever the tides of time carried us, and I would have loved you until the very end.”

That ending was beyond epic.  If you love happily ever afters, then you’re in for a treat with this series.  It was an extremely rough path to get there.  It even made me shed some tears and all out cry.  Multiple times.  But that ending was everything my heart could ever want!

“You realize you’re mine now, don’t you?” he growled. “I am keeping you. Forever.”

Immortal Fire was an emotional tale that continually pulled at my heart.  Especially since there was a love story that felt forbidden and star crossed.  They were truly doomed from the start, but I still held out so much hope for Emi and Shiro.  But it helped that there were humor in moments you wouldn’t expect.  I loved how the hidden smiles and laughter could be found in this story.  Especially since sacrifice felt like a strong theme in this book.  So just know that I closed Immortal Fire on cloud 9 and I can’t ever recommend this series enough.

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers) & Book Depository (click on book #)

Red Winter
   #1
Review:

Jen

Dark Tempest #2
Reviews:

Jen
 
Immortal Fire   #3
Reviews:

Jen
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