Tag: Fantasy (Page 1 of 86)

BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)

BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1)
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  1. Choose a Fonte.
  2. Do not kill them.
  3. Aplify their magic to save everyone and everything on Saverio—or become the first to die.

Forgive me if this review is a wonky, as I’m trying to shake off the rust. It’s been a minute since I wrote a review (family life and work really suck up all of my time and energy), but as soon as I finished this book I knew it was time to get back at it.

This Vicious Grace was the first book finished book of the year for me and what I imagine will be one of my favorites. It was a breath of fresh air in the YA fantasy realm, where I feel I’ve gotten much more picky and have a hard time being impressed. The fact that was by a debut author makes it even more surprising (and better)!

From the very first lines, I knew there was something about this book. The Finestra, Alessa, was mourning her third Fonte, who she had accidentally killed with her powers. As a chosen Finestra, her calling is to amplify a Fonte’s (partner) powers, in so to ward off a deadly attack on their country. Alessa’s touch is deadly to almost everyone else, and because of this, she is incredibly lonely. She is essentially royalty, but she is not respected or loved, and with a third Fonte’s death, support is waning for her.

She’d give anything for a hand to hold. Or a hug. She would kill for a hug. Literally.

After an attempt is made on her life and her guards help her attacker escape, Alessa decides to make some changes. It is during a trip out of to the seedier parts of her city that she meets Dante. Dante, with his tough exterior and slightly less tough interior, eventually agrees to be Alessa’s bodyguard until it’s time for her to take her next Fonte and face the evils headed to test them.

And for the first time in an incredibly long time, Alessa is no longer lonely. She is making connections and remembering how to feel again. Slowly, her personality comes out and she grows into her role as Finestra. Alessa’s growth as a character was really lovely to read. Her struggles, her vulnerabilities further solidified just how strong and caring she is. This really shines as we meet a host of side characters and I couldn’t believe how much I came to enjoy them as I got to know them.

“I can’t blame anyone for keeping their distance.”

He gave her a level stare. “Then let them walk around you.”

There’s some twists and turns as the final battle nears and I found myself desperate to get to the end. I needed to know who was going to be OK and who wouldn’t be so lucky. It honestly reminded me a lot of Mockingjay – a battle leaves a lot of scars (physically and emotionally) and sacrifices can have a lot of unintended consequences. I think the author really scraped the surface of the fallout from the main battle and set up the next book quite well.

“You’re the hero. I’m just asking a girl to hold my hand.”

Sorry I’m getting vague here, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But if you’re looking for a unique world, a slow-ish burn romance, a soft yet fierce MC, a snarky and tortured main boy, lovable side characters and a found family trope, then you’re in the right place. I’m super excited to see what happens next. I truly hope this isn’t another series where I loved the first book and am totally disappointed by the sequel. I know only time will tell. But overall I was a huge fan of Alessa, Dante, all their friends and of this book as a whole. I know I’m writing this book review in January and it doesn’t even come out until June, but don’t sleep on this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Iron (The Queen & The Assassin #1) by Lisette Marshall

BOOK REVIEW: Iron (The Queen & The Assassin #1) by Lisette MarshallIron (The Queen & The Assassin #1)
by Lisette Marshall
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Queen

Two years ago she poisoned her violent husband. Now Tamar, Queen of Redwood, rules her kingdom on her own, with an iron fist and a closely guarded heart. Surrounded by scheming nobles, she can never afford to lose control of her court – or of herself. But when an infuriatingly handsome assassin breaks into her room one night, her careful web of authority shatters at once.

The Assassin

Raised in the treacherous Taavi Empire, Runo knows every rule of survival. Don’t love, don’t get attached. Kill, and live. His newest target may wear a crown, but thanks to a traitor offering him an easy way into her rooms, even the Iron Queen of Redwood will have to make peace with her mortality soon. Except that Tamar turns out to be everything but the easy prey Runo assumed…

A Dangerous Alliance

But as they play their deadly game of survival, a far greater danger looms. With a nameless traitor now out for both their lives, the queen and the assassin have no choice but to close an uncertain alliance. And as shadows of the past draw them deeper and deeper into a tangle of deceit, sizzling hate turns into something much more dangerous…

Iron is the first book of The Queen & The Assassin, a steamy fantasy romance trilogy taking place in the dangerous, passionate world of the Five Kingdoms. Perfect for readers of enemies to lovers fantasy and adult fairy tale romances, it tells a story of deadly intrigue, dark secrets and sizzling forbidden love.


Review:

Iron was a dark and luscious story that fantasy lovers will devour!  With castles, a queen, an assassin and so much up in the air, this enemies to lovers story will keep readers hooked!  I definitely need to go back and binge all of Lisette Marshall’s backlist!

Don’t get attached. It was the first rule of his world.

Runo, a paid assassin, received orders from his Empress to kill Queen Tamar.  Yet from the moment Runo showed up to murder Tamar, things didn’t go as planned.  It all ended up going a little bit sideways, especially since neither of them could deny the intense chemistry between them.  The desire.  The fact that they felt something, which is rare in both of their lives.  Yet at the end of the day, they were from two different worlds.  But fate doesn’t always follow the simplest of paths.

Something stirred in her, and she feared it wasn’t hate alone.

Queen Tamar put up a good facade.  Those around her listened to her and followed her orders.  All because people feared her, since she ruled with an iron fist.  She was driven and cold on the outside, but entirely different on the inside.  My heart hurt for how lonely she was.  She truly didn’t have a friend in the world.  She was a good and fair ruler and we got to see how her past shaped her into who she was today.  The moment Runo waltzed into her life, it allowed us to see a completely different side of Tamar.  And I ended up really liking and respecting her!

He smiled. He couldn’t help it. A warped triumph was rising in him, a sensation like that last, expectant turn before winning a game. A dangerous feeling to allow, sitting in a cell and staring down a queen not particularly known for her mildness.

It should be no surprise that I fell hard for Runo.  He was a paid assassin.  A murderer.  He was to have no heart and do what he was told.  But from the moment he met Queen Tamar, she made him pause.  We got to see his humanity and all of the other sides of Runo that he kept buried.  He was so resourceful and clever, and I loved that his arrogance knew no bounds.  But he too lived a lonely life.  And the more time he spent around Tamar, the more he wanted to not follow his orders.  For the first time ever.

‘As a general piece of advice, don’t expect assassins to care about your wellbeing.’
‘I didn’t—’
‘Sure you didn’t.’

Any moment that Tamar and Runo were together, the sexual tension was intense.  I loved that they both weren’t what the other expected and that they also got under each other’s skin.  Tamar should hate Runo for what he was to do.  Runo should feel nothing towards Tamar and do his job.  And them ever being together was forbidden.  But what unfolded instead was a web of clues, deceit, trust and the start of something so much more. The stakes become higher as each page passed, since a traitor was after both of their lives.  They were forced to team up and I loved how this story unraveled and played out!

In his arms she felt like everything he ever held dear in his life.

Iron was an extremely seductive tale filled with twists and turns.  Sexual tension dripped from the pages and consumed me.  And while I did start out this story confused and lost, once Runo and Tamar met I was hooked!  There was so much passion and heat between them.  Ohhh I have to say I should have put the clues together, but I devoured this book way too fast and ended up being shocked with how something played out.  Eeps.  Now I’m trying to patiently wait for the next book in this series.  While it stopped at a spot that calms my heart, there was way too much up in the air to know what will happen next.  I can’t wait!

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

BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart) by Stephanie GarberOnce Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart #1)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings...until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy….

Review

Evangeline had to look down at the damp cobbles to make sure her feet were still on the ground and that she hadn’t taken flight, for parts of her were soaring. Stepping into the North didn’t just feel like the start of something, it felt like the start of everything.

The ONLY thing I regret about my currently and seemingly never-fading obsession with Dramione fanfiction is that I have been putting off reading so many great YA titles that have released in the last few months. I feel like I was trying to talk myself into reading this (and Chelsea demanding that I read this) for WEEKSSSSSS. Which is such a crime. SUCH A CRIME. While it did take me a little bit to actually get my brain into the right mindset (solely just remembering what kind of a world all of this is set in AND getting acclimated to the Magnificent North) once I was able to focus I devoured the rest of this book. I just love that every single one of Garber’s books to date have such a deliciously whimsical feel to them while also showing us different pockets of darkness here and there. It’s almost like she hands each reader a pair of rose-tinted glasses to read with only for a lens to crack part-way through and have to be taken off. BOOM. The Fates are back and people are dying or being hunted and prophecies are unearthed and deals are being made.

As much as I love reading about the world of Caraval and now the North, I’m not sure I would survive there, lol. I’m way too trusting and in real life take way too much at face value. Evangeline though…I think she’ll do just fine. She befriended a Fate or two and was really on her way to taking control of her destiny towards the end of this book. It took me a little bit to figure out if I actually was going to like her at first but…she really isn’t all that helpless. No, she’s just a normal girl who would do anything for those she loves and that is truly special. I will say I spent the entire book mistrusting Marisol and still am not convinced she’s entirely an innocent. Jacks….oh where do I even begin? I think that it’s pretty important to, at the very least, re-read all of the scenes he’s in from Legendary and Finale. I had ENTIRELY forgotten all of the glimpses we were given of him in those books and they truly make a difference. I forgot how much he DID feel for Tella and how that obviously would have MAJORLY impacted him from the first time he met Evangeline to the next. Poor boy. Lot of little moment that add up between them in this one. I have some theories and hope for book two and I can’t wait to see what does and doesn’t come true!

BOOK REVIEW: A Stormy and Sultry Sea (Witches of the Island #2) by Katie McGarry

BOOK REVIEW: A Stormy and Sultry Sea (Witches of the Island #2) by Katie McGarryA Stormy and Sultry Sea (Witches of the Island #2)
by Katie McGarry
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A witch and a Fae aren’t supposed to fall in love, nonetheless be soulmates…

New witch and midwife Cassie Strega helped a human mother through the tumultuous birth of the queen of the demons, and now Cassie and the baby have been kidnapped by one of the four demon princes fighting each other to lay claim to their new queen. Cassie hopes she can appeal to the human side of the child in order to save humanity, but as the child feeds upon her soul, Cassie must also battle the four demon-prince-uncles who intend for the infant to fulfill her dark destiny.

The love of Cassie’s life, the sultry Fae warrior and heir to the Fae kingdom, Orion, is still searching for the Fae queen he’s been tasked to find, but he is also desperate to save Cassie from his archenemies. He is torn between his heart and his duty, but if he doesn’t save Cassie by Beltane, the blood bond that connects Cassie to Orion will forever be severed and she will be marked as an enemy to the Fae—one he is sworn by oath to kill.

Fate was cruel when it linked Cassie and Orion together. Their attraction to each other is undeniable, their love assured, but these fated lovers are doomed by a curse that threatens to keep them apart. Every touch during every shared dream, every kiss during every cherished moment together is driving them closer to what will either be a victory of humanity or an end no mortal will be able to survive. Will love, in the end, truly conquer all or will it destroy them all?

Review:

A Stormy and Sultry Sea was a deeply romantic spellbinding adventure.  It picked up, right where A Wicked and Beautiful Garden ended, and took us on a wild ride.  Some of my favorite elements from this story were…

If I had learned anything from Orion, it was that I was free to break all the rules and create my own game. And that was exactly what I was going to do.

Love Prevails:

Cassie pushed into my mind, “I love you.”
I knew she did, but I loved her more. I was put here on this earth solely for her, and Cassie was put here for much more than me.

At the heart of this story were Cassie and Orion.  We alternated not only between them, but there were also a few chapters from 9 years ago, when they first met.  A witch and fae are not meant to be together, but they defied the rules.  Their love was passionate, consuming, altered some of the choices they made, and was what fueled this story.  I loved watching how they came to be together and where this journey took them!  Their relationship felt solid now, and I loved seeing to what lengths they would take to protect the other!

Side Characters Who Stole the Show:

“Two witches, a prince of hell, and the queen of the damned in the middle of nowhere.” He glanced up and his cold blue eyes bore into mine. “One big happy forced-together family. Anyone want to take bets on who’s going to crack first? And to let you know, it won’t be me.”

There were those I really shouldn’t like.  One was Moloch, he was one of the princes from Hell.  Moloch and his brothers were fighting over who would have the baby, the queen of the demons.  But I didn’t care that he was dark or did realllllyyy messed up things lol.  I kept looking for his redemption, goodness and I’m excited to see where he goes in the next book!  And then there was Ignis.  He was a fae who sat on the council.  Ignis threatened Cassie’s death multiple times but there was just something about him that pulled me in again and again.  Both Moloch and Ignis could be good when they wanted to, but I always kept in the back of my head that they seemed to be consumed by darkness too.


Tumbling To an Unknown Future:

We’re bad enough to do the dirty work God won’t allow his angels to do, but we’re just good enough we believe humanity deserves another try. We’re like demented guardian angels.

There was a lot at play in this story.  Wren and Cassie were watching over the baby, who was the queen of Hell.  And that queen of hell was feeding on Wren and Cassie’s souls.  Orion was trying to find Cassie, while the council was scared of his death that the seers foresaw.  There was missing witches and they met new characters who played important parts too.  I’m so happy I quickly skimmed the first book before diving into this one, because there were  many different threads taking place.  It allowed me to have a firm grasp on the characters and this world while I was taken on a twisty path that was a lot of fun!

Orion was mine, I was his, and nothing would ever tear us apart.

Betrayal, hope, secrets, love, friendship and death were splashed across the pages of A Stormy and Sultry Sea!  While I guessed one of the twists correctly, the other one never I never saw coming.  Plus, this book ends on the most epic of cliffhangers and I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

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

BOOK REVIEW: A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

BOOK REVIEW: A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) by Jennifer L. ArmentroutA Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns with book one of the all-new, compelling Flesh and Fire series—set in the beloved Blood and Ash world.

Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort.

However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot.

Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.

Review:

A Shadow in the Ember slowly seeped into my heart and consumed my every waking thought.   I couldn’t stop the laughter from bubbling up at the most inappropriate times, the smile that kept appearing or the tears that kept falling down my face.  This story became an instant favorite and is a must read for all fantasy lovers!  And while there were a few twists I guessed correctly, there were so many others I got wrong.  Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, the air got punched out of me time and again.  This story was epic!  Those who love fantasy, JLA or romance will fall hard for A Shadow in the Ember!

“You’ll do what?” he whispered. “Go for that weapon on your thigh again?”
“Yes.”
“Even though you know you wouldn’t be fast enough to deliver a blow.”
My grip on his shirt tightened. “Yes.”
He chuckled softly, and I felt it from my hips to my breasts. “Shh.”
Had he just shushed me?

Sera was to be her kingdoms savior.  The rot had been destroying their land, but a deal made before she was born set her on a path to be the consort to the Primal of Death.  She has been trained since birth and knew that she was to seduce, make him fall in love and then end his life.  All to save her kingdom.  My heart ached for how lonely Sera was and for the unfairness of her life and future.  So while she had been trained ruthlessly, the Primal of Death wasn’t all she expected him to be.

If I had a child, or if any descendant of mine had been harmed, I would burn through both realms just so I could flay the skin from the body of the one who’d hurt them.

I loved Sera!  And now I completely understand why Poppy is the way she is…From Blood and Ash takes place in the future, so you’ll definitely want to read the first three books in that series first before jumping into this story.  Sera was also ever so curious and impulsive at times.  She too was a fighter and went up against those, even if there was no chance of her winning.  She was so fearless, maybe even more so then Poppy since Sera felt like there was a time limit on her life.  Sera knew that there was a chance she could die trying to kill the Primal of Death.  So I loved how Sera didn’t hold back; she was fierce, bold, passionate and called it like it was!

His chin dipped, his features sharpening in the silvery light. “I am not them,” he said, low and deadly soft.
Hairs along the nape of my neck rose, and I fought the urge to take a step back. “I guess I’m lucky?”
His gaze flickered over me. “I’m not sure how lucky you are.”

 I am obsessed with the Primal of Death, aka Nyktos!  He was surrounded in shadows and darkness but my gods he made me smile so much and laugh so hard.  He could be endearing, seductive and enraptured my attention.  There was so much more to Nyktos then meets the eye.  But while he was all of those things, he could also be terrifying.  He would kill and do anything to protect those he cared about.  Nyktos was a complex soul that I think many will fall head over heels in love with too.

My blood thrummed as his hand settled around the nape of my neck. Liessa. Something beautiful and powerful… I felt like that now.

 I didn’t think anyone could rival or top my love of Poppy and Hawke, but oh how wrong I was.  Sera and Nyktos’ banter was deliciously addictive!  They connected so easily, and while so much was unknown, their chemistry was instantaneous too.  Their conversations warmed my heart and as their story progressed, their moments together were passionate, seductive and lust inducing.  This book was definitely one of Jennifer’s sexier books.  The scenes between them were erotic and oh so hot!   I was obsessed!  Except Sera was to end Nyktos.  So while my heart loved how their story played out, I also felt like crying because of their unstoppable fate.

“My interest in you is a very real, very potent need.” His fingers skimmed the curve of my jaw and then the line of my throat. They stopped over my wildly beating pulse. “It’s almost as if it’s become its own thing. A tangible entity. I find myself thinking about it at the most inconvenient moments,” he said, his breath dancing over my lips. Against my better judgement, anticipation sank into my muscles, tightening them.

A Shadow in the Ember was an absolute masterpiece!  There were terrifying creatures that nightmares are made of.  Battle scenes that were epic to watch unfold.  The foreshadowing for what was to come in FBAA gave me chills!  And getting to see characters that show up later in the FBAA Series, oh it was brilliant that we got to learn about their past and see who they were!  Guilt, love, secrets, passion, friendship, life and death wove through the pages and I loved every minute of it.  A Shadow in the Ember is one of my top favorite reads from 2021 and is a must for all fantasy lovers!

He didn’t move. “I see I was correct about you striking me as the type to fight even if you knew you wouldn’t succeed.” His chin brushed the top of my head. “It’s exhausting always being right.”
I threw my head back with a shriek. Pain lanced my skull as I connected with some part of his face.
Fates,” he grunted, and a savage smile tore at my mouth.

PS I just have to say a follow through was beyond epic!

A burn started in my core, spreading to my throat as the eather-laced shadows took shape behind him, forming wings.
I was going to die.
I knew that then as I stared into those so-very-still, dead eyes.

PPS  I screamed out loud multiple times.

For a moment, I could only stare at the shimmering blood coursing down the defined lines of his stomach. How was he still standing?
“Nyktos,” I whispered.

PPPS  So many moments left me breathless.

“You,” he said, his thumb moving in a slow swipe over the side of my throat. There was something about the way he said that. “You are trouble.”

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

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