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Reviews: THE BOOK OF MAGIC & VESPERTINE

 

Sorry I pretty much dropped off the radar by the middle of the week last week.  We had a huge deadline at work on Friday, and we’re short-staffed yet again so it was all hands on deck to get everything finished.  Thankfully we made the deadline but I was exhausted and just didn’t have it in me to do much of anything except be a coach potato all weekend.  I plan to get caught up this week though so thanks for your patience in the meantime.  I had also planned to post these two reviews last week but was too tired to even write them.  Happy to share my thoughts on both of these today though. 🙂

 

Reviews:  THE BOOK OF MAGIC & VESPERTINEThe Book of Magic (Practical Magic, #2) Goodreads

Author: Alice Hoffman

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

It’s no secret to anyone who follows my blog that I’m a huge fan of Alice Hoffman’s books, especially her Practical Magic series.  My love for this series about the Owens women, their magic, and the fact that they have been cursed in matter of love for generations has only grown with each passing book.  I loved how Hoffman used the second and third books in the series as prequels to gradually take us all the way back to the origins of the Owens family curse.  What I was not expecting, however, was a fourth book, and specifically a fourth book that would function as an actual sequel to Practical Magic, but that’s what we get with The Book of Magic

The Book of Magic takes us full circle back to Gillian and Sally from the first book, along with their beloved, quirky old aunts, Jet and Franny.  When the story opens, we learn that Jet has seen and heard the death watch beetle and knows she only has seven days left to live.  She decides it’s time to try to end the family curse.  She wants future generations of Owens women to be able to fall in love and live happily ever after rather than suffer the endless heartbreaks that have plagued her, her sister, and all other Owens family members going back 300 years.  Seven days isn’t enough, however, and while she sets some things into motion, she is unable to complete the task prior to her death and knows it will fall to someone else in the family to finish what she has started.  She has left clues for what must come next but it remains to be seen which Owens will find her clues and if they’ll be brave enough to make the sacrifice that needs to be made to set the rest of the family free.

Jet and her sister Franny were my two favorite characters from the first book, so I was heartbroken from the opening pages of the book learning that Jet was going to die.  At the same time though, I loved how determined she was to break this awful curse once and for all.  Her family has had way more than its fair share of heartbreak and it has ruined so many lives over the years, and I just loved how she really wanted breaking it to be her legacy.

I also loved getting to see all the beloved characters from the earlier books – Gillian, Sally, Franny, Vincent, and so many more, as well as meeting two younger members of the Owens clan, Sally’s daughters Kylie and Antonia.  Kylie and Antonia, thanks to their overprotective mother, have grown up not knowing about magic or their family’s curse, and when they start to hear whispers of it at Jet’s funeral, Kylie in particular, starts looking for answers and stumbles upon some of Jet’s clues.  When her boyfriend Gideon falls into a coma, Kylie’s desperate actions put her in danger and become the catalyst for the bulk of the story’s plot, which involves the entire Owens family coming together to confront enemies from the past, try to save both Kylie and Gideon and to finish what Jet started.

I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoiling the journey, but with The Book of Magic, Alice Hoffman has gifted me with everything I could have possibly wanted in a sequel for these beloved characters, and so much more.  This story broke my heart and made me cry, and yet somehow it was also heartwarming and left me with a smile on my face. There’s just something so satisfying about closure and Hoffman absolutely nails it with The Book of Magic.  5 MAGICAL STARS.

 

Reviews:  THE BOOK OF MAGIC & VESPERTINEVespertine (Vespertine, #1) Goodreads

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is the atmospheric and action-packed fantasy novel I didn’t know I needed this spooky season.   I’m a big fan of Rogerson’s earlier novels, An Enchantment of Ravens and A Sorcery of Thorns because I love the strong heroines she creates as well as her exquisite worldbuilding so I was thrilled as soon as I dove into Vespertine and discovered that we have another fabulous heroine to root for.

Vespertine follows Artemisia, a young nun-in-training who prefers to live a solitary life and stay in the background attending to the dead, but who finds herself thrust unexpectedly into the role of heroine when her convent is threatened and she stands up to defend it.  She does so by wielding a weapon, an ancient relic, that few are able to wield and in doing so, becomes possessed by a revenant.  This becomes a life-changing moment for Artemisia as she not only has to contend with this spirit basically riding shotgun in her mind and with people trying to elevate her to sainthood, but she also somehow finds herself tasked with solving a complex mystery that features old magic, nuns, spirits, saints, as well as secrets and trickery.

While the plot itself is action-packed and guaranteed to keep you turning the pages, and the world and magic system Rogerson has created here is sure to enthrall, my favorite part of the story were the characters.  As an introvert myself, I found Artemisia immensely relatable and cringed right alongside her when she found herself unable to escape the spotlight.  I also found her to be an incredibly sympathetic character because she comes from a troubled background, including a downright abusive childhood.  The more we learn about her, the more I can understand why she is such an awkward and retreating figure.

All of that said, however, my second favorite character is the Revenant who possesses Artemisia.  It is unclear whether the spirit is male or female, young or old, but what is clear is that whatever it is, it has the most hilariously snarky personality.  The Revenant reminded me of a grumpy old man, and I lived for its banter with Artemisia, especially because it brought out her equally snarky side.  The story itself has a very dark atmosphere and Artemisia’s overall journey is pretty dark, but you can always count on the unexpectedly funny banter between these two to keep things entertaining.  I was also fascinated by the bond that formed between them even though Artemisia never knew if she could trust the spirit not to consume her completely.  I wouldn’t say they become friends but there’s a very interesting dynamic between them that I became very invested in.

The last thing I want to mention is the lack of a romance and the fact that I liked it this way.  Vespertine is very much all about Artemisia and her journey and I think a romance would have just been in the way.  If you prefer your fantasies with a bit of romance, Vespertine may not be your cup of tea, but if you’re all about stories where underdogs learn they are stronger than they ever thought they could be, then Vespertine is the book for you.  4 STARS.

Fantasy Review: ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART by Stephanie Garber

Fantasy Review:  ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART by Stephanie GarberOnce Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart, #1) by Stephanie Garber
Also by this author: Caraval, Legendary
five-stars
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #1
Published by Flatiron Books on September 28, 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Thanks so much to Cat Kinney from Flatiron Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Once Upon a Broken Heart. I’m thrilled to share my thoughts with you today on one of my most anticipated reads of 2021.

Stephanie Garber’s new novel, Once Upon a Broken Heart, is the first installment in her new fantasy series of the same name and it’s a companion series to her wildly popular Caraval series.  As the title hints with its “once upon a time” tease, Once Upon a Broken Heart has a fairytale-like feel to it.  I loved this vibe and found it very fitting for the main premise of the story, which explores how far a person will go to secure a happily ever after for themselves.

The protagonist of the novel is Evangeline Fox, a young woman who grew up in her dad’s curiosity shop, where she steeped herself in myths and legends.  When Luc, the love of Evangeline’s life, abruptly dumps her in favor of her stepsister and wants to marry her immediately, Evangeline is desperate to stop the wedding and win Luc back.  It comes quite naturally to her that she should seek out help from one of the legendary Fates, in particular Jacks, the Prince of Hearts.  If anyone can help her, she’s sure it’s him and is willing to pay whatever price he asks of her. She knows that whatever bargain she makes with the Fate will change her life forever; she just doesn’t know if that change will be for better or for worse.

I really adored Evangeline.  I felt so bad for her in those opening scenes because she’s absolutely distraught that Luc and her stepsister would betray her like this and doesn’t know who to trust anymore.  She’s somewhat naïve about love and relationships and the fact that some people just cheat, but I did admire the sense of determination she displayed when going to the Prince of Hearts.  Her plan to get help from a Fate might not be the smartest idea, but I had to give her credit for taking matters into her own hands to try to make something happen for herself.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers about Evangeline’s journey overall and whether or not she gets that happily ever after she so desperately wants but if you enjoy a story where the protagonist experiences tremendous growth as the story progresses, you’ll enjoy this one.

Now, let me talk about Jacks, the Prince of Hearts.   Jacks is your guy if you love a story that features an anti-hero because he’s the ultimate anti-hero.  He was one of my favorite characters from the Caraval series and was the main reason I was so excited to read this book.  And he does not disappoint. I love Jacks so much! He’s mysterious and broody, and he’s also a sexy, bad boy.  He’s all about tricks and making deals with desperate souls like Evangeline, and his motives are always selfish and sometimes nefarious. He’s just such a great character, and what I loved in Once Upon a Broken Heart, is the added depth we are given with respect to him.  Even though he’s clearly making this bargain with Evangeline for his own personal gain, he still can’t seem to stop himself from helping her and protecting her whenever she finds herself in trouble, which is quite often thanks to the precarious situation the deal puts her in.  There’s an almost indefinable connection between them. I wouldn’t call it a romantic connection and it’s not quite a friendship either. Whatever it is though, the chemistry between the two of them is fantastic and I became immensely invested in the relationship between them as soon as they struck that fateful bargain. Trying to figure out what it is that Jacks wants out of the deal, coupled with whether or not Evangeline will get her heart’s desire, had me flying through the pages and I devoured the book in a day.

The worldbuilding is also exquisite in this story. We are introduced to a new kingdom in this series that we didn’t see in Caraval.  This kingdom is in the North and Garber beautifully uses imagery and myths and folklore, to add to that fairytale-like atmosphere I mentioned earlier and vividly bring the setting to life.

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a companion to Caraval, and while it would work quite well as a standalone, if you’re ever planning to read Caraval, it’s probably best to read that series first to avoid any possible spoilers.  Scarlett and Tella from Caraval make a brief appearance and it was delightful to see them again, but otherwise there isn’t much overlap in plot at all.  As much as I enjoyed Caraval though, I have to admit that I actually loved Once Upon a Broken Heart even more and can’t wait to see what’s next for Evangeline and Jacks!

five-stars

About Stephanie Garber

Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of THE CARAVAL SERIES, which has been translated in over 25 languages. Her newest book, ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, releases September 28, 2021.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.

Fantasy Review: UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by T.J. Klune

Fantasy Review:  UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by T.J. KluneUnder the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
five-stars
Published by Tor Books on September 21, 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 373
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

T.J. Klune’s new novel Under the Whispering Door is pure, heartwarming magic.  I loved this story so much that I know nothing I write here is going to convey just how special this book is.  I’m going to try though so bear with me.

The story follows Wallace Price and it actually begins with his death.  Wallace was apparently such a jerk while he was alive that only four people show up for his funeral — his ex-wife and his three partners from his law firm — and based on their comments, they all clearly did not like him.  Also in attendance at the funeral, is Wallace himself, or rather the ghost of Wallace.  He’s somewhat in disbelief that he’s actually dead and mad because he still had so much work to do, cases to prepare for, etc. He’s also furious about the nasty comments the funeral attendees are making about him.

Wallace is distracted by all of this, however, when he realizes that a mystery woman who is also attending the funeral can actually see him in his ghost form.  She introduces herself as Mei and explains that she is a Reaper who has come to collect his soul and help him to cross over to the afterlife.  Instead of taking him directly to the afterlife, however, Mei instead leads the reluctant Wallace to a tea shop located in a small, remote village.  There she introduces him to Hugo, the owner of the tea shop who also happens to be a ferryman to souls who need to cross to the afterlife. Wallace insists he isn’t ready to leave his life behind and thus begins a journey with Hugo that allows him to fully discover and explore all the things he missed out on in life while he was so fully obsessed with work and power, including love, kindness, and family, just to name a few biggies.

This story is filled with laugh out loud moments as Wallace adjusts to his “life” as a ghost and particularly as he is constantly teased by Mei and punked by another resident ghost, Hugo’s grandfather. Hugo’s grandfather steals every scene he is in, as does Hugo’s loyal ghost dog, Apollo.  Aside from being hilarious though, Under the Whispering Door is also just an all around moving, emotional story because of its focus on love and loss, and living life to the fullest. It explores death and how we all deal with loss and grief differently, and I guess maybe because I had just lost a loved one right before I read this book, that aspect of the story really resonated with me. I cried just as much as I laughed, especially because Wallace grows so much throughout the story that I went from hating him and thinking he was the worst person ever to absolutely adoring him and never wanting him to pass on and leave Hugo and Mei, his wonderful found family, behind. That’s a pretty powerful transformation for a character to make and T.J. Klune does it in such a beautiful and realistic way.

I could go on and on about everything I loved about this book, but you’ll really want to experience all of its magic yourself.  Under the Whispering Door is a book that’s going to stay with me for a long time and it has definitely placed T.J. Klune on my list of auto-buy authors.

five-stars

About T.J. Klune

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Exraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

Tj can be reached at tjklunebooks@yahoo.com.

Fantasy Reviews: DEFY THE NIGHT & THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUIDEA DIVINA

 

TGIF! Work has been kicking my butt so I’m even more happy than usual that Friday is upon us.  I haven’t been reading much fantasy since the start of the pandemic, but I just couldn’t resist reading new fantasy releases from two of my favorite authors, Brigid Kemmerer and Zoraida Córdova.  I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Kemmerer, both her fantasy novels and her YA contemporary books, and I’m a big fan of Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas YA fantasy series.  I’m excited to share my thoughts on their latest with you today. 🙂

 

Fantasy Reviews:  DEFY THE NIGHT & THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUIDEA DIVINADefy the Night (Defy the Night, #1) Goodreads

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher:  Bloomsbury YA

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Brigid Kemmerer’s latest novel, Defy the Night, is the first installment in her brand new fantasy series of the same name.  The series is set in Kandala, a kingdom that has been ravaged by a deadly pandemic.  The only way to treat the sickness is with an elixir made from moonflower petals, but there’s only a limited supply of such petals and those regions of the kingdom who have them charge a premium for them, thus making it easy for the rich to hoard more elixir than they could ever possibly need and hard for poor folks to afford the elixir at all.  How can there be any hope of helping everyone survive with such an uneven distribution of resources?  Tessa Cade, an apprentice apothecary, wonders the same thing and decides to take matters into her own hands.  She and her partner, Wes, steal moonflower petals from anywhere they can, manufacture their own elixir, and sneak out in the dead of night to deliver it to poor families across the kingdom, under penalty of death if they are caught.

I really loved everything about this book, but I especially adored Tessa and this whole Robin Hood “rob from the rich, give to the poor” vibe she has going on.  Tessa is feisty, brilliant, and she just has the biggest heart.  All she wants to do is save everyone she can, and I had tremendous sympathy for her because she’s following in her parents’ footsteps and they were both killed for doing exactly what she’s doing. She’s also quite headstrong and sometimes acts rashly.  When Wes is captured by the royal guards on one of their runs, Tessa, heartbroken and alone, races off to the palace looking for revenge.  Little does she know, however, but her life is about to change forever.

Another character in the story I adored was Prince Corrick, who Tessa encounters when she enters the palace.  Corrick is the King’s Justice. His job is to dole out punishments to those who break the law, and he’s known by all to be brutal and ruthless.  Corrick is hard to like, at first, just based on his reputation alone.  But I grew to love him as soon as I realized there’s so much more to Corrick than meets the eye.  Corrick and his brother the King were forced to take on their roles at a very young age because their parents were murdered.  Corrick is determined to protect his brother at all costs, even if it means doling out the most horrid of punishments to discourage any future betrayals.  He hates what he does, however.  It tears him up inside and he desperately wants to be a different kind of person.  Could Tessa be the one to help him become who he wants to be?

I don’t want to give anything away about what happens when Tessa and Corrick encounter each other, but it’s a game changer for both and one heck of a ride for the reader when they unexpectedly join forces to take on those who pose a threat to the health and stability of the kingdom.  If you like a little romance in your fantasies, there’s definitely plenty of chemistry between Tessa and Corrick.  And if you like a little political intrigue, with a side of backstabbing and treachery, Kemmerer has you covered there too.  I enjoyed Defy the Night immensely and can’t wait to see what happens next!  4 STARS

 

Fantasy Reviews:  DEFY THE NIGHT & THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUIDEA DIVINAThe Inheritance of Orquídea Divina Goodreads

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Atria Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I’ve enjoyed Zoraida Córdova’s YA novels for a few years now.  I love her style of storytelling, particularly her lush worldbuilding and unforgettable characters, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her adult debut, The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina.  This book was everything I hoped it would be and more.

It’s a multi-generational family saga that centers on Orquidea Montoya. Orquidea is the matriarch of the family and she has always been a bit of an enigma to her children and grandchildren, especially the fact that she has refused to leave her home for any reason and thus has missed out on weddings, graduations, baptisms, etc.  When Orquidea realizes she is near the end of her life, she unexpectedly invites her entire family to her home for her funeral. She promises to give them each their inheritance and to finally shed some light on why she has lived her life the way she has. The family obeys her wishes, but instead of getting the answers they seek, Orquidea transforms right before their eyes, her life ending in a most unexpected and magical way, and they are left with even more questions than they had before.

This is a hard story to review because I think it really does make the reading experience more special to go in blindly, but I do want to mention a few elements that I really enjoyed that I can talk about without spoiling anything.  The first thing I loved was the use of the dual timeline.  In one timeline, we follow Orquidea’s descendants through several years and see how the gifts she bestowed upon them have improved their lives. That is, until they all start to sense danger and realize they are being targeted and travel to Ecuador where Orquidea once lived, looking for answers. The second timeline, which alternates with the first, follows Orquidea through her life and slowly reveals the secrets she was hiding for most of her life.  I loved how the author intricately wove the details of these two timelines together and it was most satisfying, although heartbreaking, when the two timelines meet and everything is revealed.

I loved the focus on family, the vivid descriptions of Ecuador, the use of South American folklore, and I also really enjoyed the way the author used magical realism in the story.  Magical realism seems to be one of those storytelling elements that people either love or hate, but Córdova uses it effectively and beautifully here to add to the sense of mystery surrounding Orquidea, very reminiscent of the way Alice Hoffman, one of my favorite authors, weaves it into some of her stories.

If you enjoy intricately-plotted stories that feature family, love, magic, danger, long-held secrets and curses, The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina is sure to captivate you.  4 STARS

Fantasy Book Reviews: A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKE

 

Happy Monday all!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We had wonderful weather to usher in the first day of Spring so I definitely won’t complain.  I was also finally able to get my first dose of a COVID vaccine this weekend, which has really got me hoping this is the start of good things to come.  Anyway, back to blog stuff…  I’m sure you guys are used to mainly seeing rom-com reviews from me these days, but I actually did veer away from the rom-coms long enough to read a couple of new fantasy novels this month and wanted to share my thoughts on them with you.

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKEA ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4) Goodreads

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing

I’m going to confess right now that I went into Sarah J. Maas’ new novel A Court of Silver Flames with somewhat low expectations.  For me, A Court of Mist and Fury set the bar so high that the rest of the books in the series have paled in comparison.  Nesta Archeron was also one of my least favorite characters in the series, so I was not overly excited to have an entire book that focused on her.  All of that said, I was very pleasantly surprised with this book.

Maas does a beautiful job of taking us inside of Nesta’s thoughts so that it’s so much easier to understand how much pain she is in and why she lashes out at everyone the way she does.  From losing her father to having to live with the guilt of how she treated him while he was alive, and of course, having to deal with the fact that she was forced to become High Fae against her will, Nesta’s life has been turned upside down in every way.  When the story opens, she is not taking any of these things well and has pretty much turned her back on everyone who cares about her.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers about Nesta’s journey in this book, so I’ll just leave it at there’s definitely plenty of the badass Nesta we already knew, but now we’re allowed to see a whole new vulnerable side that makes it much easier to have empathy for her.

In addition to Nesta’s journey, I was also a big fan of the further exploration of Nesta’s relationship with Cassian.  It’s no secret that the two of them are attracted to one another, but this book takes that attraction to a whole new level, both sexually and emotionally, as Cassian is the one who is there for her no matter how hard she tries to push everyone away.  I loved that he was so supportive of her and that he also wasn’t afraid to show her tough love if he thought that’s what would best serve her.  And of course, don’t even get me started on the sex scenes. The sexual tension between Nesta and Cassian makes Rhys and Feyre’s scenes seem tame by comparison.  Holy hotness!

Aside from getting to know Nesta and Cassian better, I also just loved being back in this world again and seeing some of my old favorites, like Rhys, Feyre, Mor, and Az, but I also loved that some great new characters were introduced.  Gwyn and Emerie, two women Nesta meets while she’s avoiding everyone else, are such great additions to this cast of characters.  I don’t want to give away too much about them but they are the friends Nesta doesn’t even realize she so desperately needs and they provide her with a sense of sisterhood that she is unable to achieve with her own biological sisters right now.  I loved their bond and really hope that they will make appearances later in the series.

Bottom line:  I was not expecting to come out of A Court of Silver Flames adoring Nesta and wanting to see more of her, but here we are. Well done, Sarah J. Maas!  4 STARS

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKENamesake (Fable, #2) Goodreads

Author: Adrienne Young

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Namesake is the second book in an exciting YA fantasy duology by Adrienne Young.  I loved the first book, Fable, because it featured a badass heroine and of course pirates, so I couldn’t wait to dive into the finale.

Namesake picks up right where the first book leaves off so you definitely need to have read the first book to have any idea as to what is going on.  The crux of the story is that even though all Fable wants to do is sail away with the Marigold ship and its crew, free from the influence of her estranged father, Saint, Fable instead finds herself being used as a pawn in what turns out to be a very complicated scheme, the ultimate goal of which is to eliminate Fable’s father as a force in the shipping trade.  Even though she’s estranged from Saint, she doesn’t want to see him ruined and so Fable must come up with a plan of her own, to save her father and to get back the crew (and the man) she loves.

Fable and her relationship with her father has definitely been one of the major draws for me of this series, so I was pleased to see it at the forefront of the finale.  I was excited by the depth of the family drama that we delve into, not only with Saint, but also with Fable’s mother, who apparently took some pretty big secrets to the grave with her when she died.  Where the first book in the series was all about gem trading and Fable trying to make her way in the world, Namesake is all about secrets, betrayal, deception, and the idea that no one Fable has known throughout her life is entirely as they seem.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say here that I never would have expected going into this duology that Saint would end up being one of my favorite characters, but that’s exactly what happened.

While I enjoyed the family aspect of Namesake immensely, especially the unexpected addition of another member of Fable’s extended family who isn’t what she seems, I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I enjoyed the first book in the duology.  There were some places along the way where the pacing felt a little slow for me, particularly each time they went back into the water looking for gems. I think it was such a novelty in the first book that it fascinated me, but by the second book, I just really wanted to get back to the family drama stuff with Fable and didn’t care as much about how skilled she was at finding gems.  I also wasn’t as into the romance in the second book as I was in the first.  I’m honestly not even sure why.  I think maybe it was, again, due to the fact that I was most interested in the family drama and everything else just felt in the way.

Even with those couple of issues though, I still found Namesake to be a satisfying conclusion to the series overall.  I even teared up a bit at some of the final family moments.  I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoy YA fantasy, pirate adventures, and stories that feature complicated father-daughter relationships.  3.5 STARS

Reviews: THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEAD

 

I’ve got two great YA fantasies to share with you today.  The first is a hilarious new superhero story from T.J. Klune.  This was my first time reading one of Klune’s novels and it did not disappoint! The second is an entertaining and fresh take on the beloved fairytale, Cinderella.

 

Reviews:  THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEADThe Extraordinaries Goodreads

Author: T.J. Klune

Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Publisher:  Tor Teen

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

T.J. Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is one of the most laugh-out loud funny books I’ve read in a long time.  A cross between Marissa Meyers’ Renegades and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, The Extraordinaries follows Nick, a gay teen and popular fanfiction writer who writes stories for the Extraordinaries superhero fandom. Nick’s fanfiction centers around Shadow Star, the Extraordinary he has a major crush on.  Nick dreams of meeting Shadow Star and winning his affections, and Nick’s dream only increases when against all odds, he has a chance meeting with Shadow Star, that leaves him utterly awestruck and formulating a hilarious yet slightly unrealistic plan as to how he too can become a superhero so he and Shadow Star can be a real team and live happily ever after.

Nick and his “adorkableness” are really what made me love this book.  His nerdy crush on Shadow Star is just adorable, as is his passion for his fanfiction.  I think Nick is going to be a character that a lot of readers relate to as well. Nick has an amazing queer friend group that supports his crush and yet has fun mocking him relentlessly over it.  He’s also got an ex-boyfriend that just won’t go away, which makes life interesting yet awkward for everyone.  On a more serious note, Nick has ADHD that he takes medication for to help him stay focused, and he’s also dealing with the loss of his mom, who was killed during a robbery.  One of my favorite parts of the novel is actually Nick’s relationship with his ultra-supportive Dad as they try to navigate their new normal without Nick’s mom in their lives.  As much as I was sitting there giggling right along with Nick’s friends as they gently poke fun at his crush, I also had moments where I just wanted to grab him and give him a big hug because he just needs one every now and then.

I don’t want to say much more because with superheroes, secret identities and even a bit of a mystery thrown in the mix, it’s just way too easy to run into spoilers, but I will say if you’re looking for a read that is as heartwarming as it is funny, The Extraordinaries should be on your must-read list.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loved Renegades and Fangirl and to anyone who enjoys a good friends-to-lovers romance.  The Extraordinaries has something for everyone!  4 STARS

 

 

Reviews:  THE EXTRAORDINARIES & CINDERELLA IS DEADCinderella Is Dead Goodreads

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher:  Bloomsbury YA

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Those who follow my blog know that I love fairytale retellings, so it was a given that I would want to read Kalynn Barton’s feminist Cinderella retelling, Cinderella is Dead.  As the title states, Cinderella is long dead when this story opens but her story is being used by the King of Lille to control his young female citizens.  Girls are required to commit Cinderella’s tale to memory and they are taught that they should want a happy ending just like Cinderella’s.

There’s a cruel twist to the King’s version of the fairy tale, however.  Once they reach a certain age, the young ladies are required to attend the King’s annual ball.  They are to dress up in the finest gowns and present themselves to potential suitors, who are then charged with selecting a mate.  Girls who aren’t chosen are allowed to return to the ball twice more but then after that, their lives are deemed forfeit and they are never heard from again.  Being chosen isn’t necessarily a happily ever after either as the men in the kingdom view their wives as property and often beat and verbally abuse them.

Sophia, the protagonist, wants no part of this dystopian disaster. She’s not looking for a Prince Charming and in fact would much rather marry her childhood best friend, Erin.  She decides that she will not take part in this sick ritual and makes it her mission to not only escape from the King’s ball, but to also come back once she finds a way to bring the whole patriarchal system crashing down.  I really loved Sophia. She’s bright, fierce, independent, and she’s loyal.  She’s also not perfect, which makes her all the more likeable and relatable.  Once she makes her escape, she meets up with an unexpected member of the Resistance and that’s when the story really takes off and takes turn after unexpected turn to shake up the original Cinderella tale.

Sophia is definitely the shining star of this story, but what I loved most is just how unique and fresh the story is even though it uses so many elements from the original fairytale.  The author will have you questioning every aspect of the tale you thought you knew so well.  Were the stepsisters really evil?  Who was the fairy godmother?  Was Prince Charming all that charming after all?  What really happened to Cinderella?  Did she really have a happy ending?

Cinderella is Dead is a quick and entertaining read that I breezed through in less than a day.  If feminist retellings, queer protagonists, and smashing the patriarchy are your thing, then this is the book for you! 4 STARS.

Review: FIREBORNE by Rosaria Munda

Review:  FIREBORNE by Rosaria MundaFireborne by Rosaria Munda
four-stars
Series: The Aurelian Cycle #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 15, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIREBORNE Review

 

Rosaria Munda’s debut novel Fireborne has everything I love in a fantasy: complex characters, exquisite world building, political intrigue, and most importantly, dragons!  Fireborne follows two main characters, Annie and Lee, both of whom were orphaned during a brutal revolution that took place when they were just young children.  Lee’s family was part of the aristocracy and was therefore murdered by the revolutionaries when they launched their attack, while prior to that, Lee’s father executed Annie’s whole lowborn family to make an example out of them for their fellow villagers.  Both Annie and Lee were spared execution themselves only so that they could serve as witnesses to what had happened and report back to their people.  Lee’s true identity is hidden for his own protection, and he and Annie eventually end up in the same orphanage together and immediately become friends.

When we first meet Lee and Annie, they are young adults and they are also Dragonriders, which is truly every bit as cool as it sounds.  The characters really do ride dragons, which gave me a combination Game of Thrones/How to Train Your Dragon vibe that I loved.  Lee and Annie are still the best of friends, but they are also both excellent Dragonriders and so are also friendly rivals for the title of Firstrider, a title that all Dragonriders aspire to.

Their world changes, however, when it is learned that there are survivors from the old regime and they’ve decided they want their city back.  This puts Lee in an almost impossible situation – he must decide whether to fight for or against his birth family. Will he and Annie end up on opposite sides of this war that is threatening their way of life? And If Lee chooses to fight for his birth family, does Annie have what it takes to fight against her best friend?

It took me a couple of chapters to really get into Fireborne but then I was just glued to it and finished it in less than two days.  Annie and Lee are both such likeable characters.  I was sympathetic to them both because of what they had gone through as children but also loved watching them achieve success and literally soar as Dragonriders.  I also loved watching their relationship evolve – they’re friends, they’re family, and at times, even felt like possibly a little more than that.  Lee was an especially fascinating character to me because of the complication of his hidden identity and what a wildcard he is when it comes to the old regime trying to return to power.  There’s plenty of gut-wrenching, emotional moments as Lee considers the choice he has to make.

Aside from Annie and Lee, I also really liked the rest of the Dragonriders fleet, especially Duck, who is just a sweetheart.  Power, another rider and rival of Lee’s, is kind of an ass at times, but I still found him very entertaining.  The best part of the Dragonriders though were the actual dragons.  I was fascinated by the way everything worked, from the way the dragons chose their riders, to how the tournaments worked to decide who would ultimately be first rider.  I thought the author did a fantastic job with her attention to detail here – from the rules of the tournament with its full heat kill shots versus glancing penalty shots, and especially with the fire suits with built-in coolants that the riders wore. It felt like she thought of everything and it really brought the contests to life.  Between the glorious images of dragons flying through the air and the exciting contests between the riders, I found myself flying through the pages to see who would come out on top.  I loved everything about this aspect of the fantasy world in Fireborne.

I’m also a big fan of political intrigue, so seeing what’s going on behind the scenes as the Dragonriders prep for possible war was a big selling point for me too. I’m always drawn to those scenes where alliances are formed while other alliances are called into question and tested.  In the case of Fireborne, this led to a question that ultimately left me with food for thought:  If the new regime starts doing the same things that the old regime was doing, are you any better off now than you were then?

Even with everything I’ve written, I’ve still barely scratched the surface of the many layers of Rosaria Munda’s Fireborne.  It’s an emotional novel about revolution, rivalry, and family that is sure to captivate you.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

four-stars

About Rosaria Munda

Rosaria grew up in rural North Carolina, where she climbed trees, read Harry Potter fanfiction, and taught herself Latin. She studied political theory at Princeton and lives in Chicago with her husband and cat. Fireborne (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019) is her debut novel.

Review: BLOODLEAF

Review:  BLOODLEAFBloodleaf by Crystal Smith
three-half-stars
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 12, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BLOODLEAF Review

Bloodleaf is the first book in an exciting and imaginative new fantasy series of the same name by Crystal Smith. It is Smith’s debut, and with it, she has put her own creative spin on the Grimm fairy tale, “The Goose Girl.”

Bloodleaf follows Aurelia, who is the Princess of Renalt, and who is engaged to marry the Prince of Achleva, a young man she has never actually met. Their marriage is designed to serve a political agenda, to unite these two countries and ensure peace across the land.

In addition to being a Princess, however, Aurelia is also a witch who has been hiding her powers from everyone, especially the Tribunal, the ruling body in Renalt, for years. The Tribunal loathes magic and looks for every opportunity to execute a witch. The only way Aurelia can hope to escape the persecution her fellow witches face is to keep her magic hidden at all costs, something that isn’t always easy to do since Aurelia doesn’t really know how to control it yet.

While she is traveling to Achleva to meet her soon-to-be husband, there is an attempted assassination, which exposes Aurelia’s secret. Betrayed by those around her, Aurelia flees her country while an imposter continues on to Achleva to take her place. Unable to return home because everyone now knows she’s a witch and unable to move forward and marry the Prince because of the imposter, Aurelia must forge a new way for herself in the world.

She takes on a new identity, makes new friends, and works to hone her magical abilities. One of her abilities is that she can see and sometimes communicate with spirits, and it is this ability that lands Aurelia right in the middle of a sinister plot to destroy an enchanted wall that protects Achleva. An evil mage is determined to bring the wall down and is leaving a trail of bodies in his wake as he does everything he possibly can to break the spell that is keeping the wall intact.

Can Aurelia perfect her magical abilities in time to stop the deadly mage before even more lives are lost?

 

Bloodleaf hooked me pretty quickly because it starts on out such a dark and dangerous note, with a public execution. Renalt and the Tribunal definitely gave me Salem Witch Trial vibes with their relentless persecution and rush to judgement of anyone they believed to be a witch.

It also of course made me sympathetic to Aurelia since apparently not even her royal title could prevent her from the possibility of execution were she discovered to be a witch. What really impressed me about Aurelia though was how she rallied after being betrayed and took charge of her own destiny. She didn’t wait around like a damsel in distress, hoping to be saved.

I also liked that Aurelia isn’t flawless by any means. She makes some questionable choices along the way and sometimes makes things harder for herself because of those choices. But she is constantly learning from her mistakes and growing into a very admirable young woman, one who would make a wonderful leader if given the chance. As much as I enjoyed the action of the story, I think Aurelia’s inner journey was equally captivating for me.

In addition to Aurelia, Bloodleaf also features a fantastic cast of supporting characters. They’re not nearly as fleshed out as Aurelia, but I still really enjoyed them all anyway, especially Zan, Nathaniel, and Kate, who become unexpected allies for Aurelia after she is forced to flee everything she has ever known.

I also thought the author wrote a brilliant villain in Toris. I don’t want to give any spoilers away about him, but man, I really loved to hate that guy.

The mythology and the supernatural elements were also very well done and just added so much to the story. Between the spirits that only Aurelia could see and communicate with and their sometimes ominous messages and the almost mystical Stonehenge like vibe that I got every time Aurelia went to the enchanted wall, the book just had such an atmospheric quality.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed Bloodleaf but I did have a couple of minor issues with it. The first one was that the pacing was a little uneven and dragged just a little at times in the first half. It never bothered me enough that I would have considered quitting the book, but there was just a noticeable lull for me.

I also would have liked a little more memorable worldbuilding when it came specifically to Renalt and Achleva. I didn’t really feel like I came away with a distinct picture of what either of them really looked like.

 

Even with those couple of minor issues, however, I still thought Bloodleaf was a unique and compelling start to Smith’s debut fantasy series and I look forward to seeing where she takes the story next. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy and/or retellings, and also to anyone who enjoys the idea of a fierce princess who is no damsel in distress.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Perfect for fans of RED QUEEN and UPROOTED, Crystal Smith’s debut novel, BLOODLEAF, is an imaginative retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” that takes a ghostly mystery and sets it inside an epic fantasy world.

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

three-half-stars

About Crystal Smith

Crystal Smith is a writer, photographer, and artist who developed an early love of storytelling in a family of voracious readers. She resides in Utah with her high school sweetheart husband and two lively sons. When she isn’t writing or creating, she can be found re-watching Jane Eyre and Howl’s Moving Castle or reading ghost stories with all the lights on.

Review: CROWN OF FEATHERS

Review:  CROWN OF FEATHERSCrown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
three-half-stars
Series: Crown of Feathers #1
Published by Simon Pulse on February 12, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 496
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CROWN OF FEATHERS Review

 

Nicki Pau Preto’s Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy that centers on a world that has been torn apart by a war between two warrior queens who also happen to be sisters.  The legendary Phoenix Riders were the heroes of that world until the war between the sisters destroyed everything.  Years later, many are still struggling to make ends meet and keep food on the table, including main character Veronyka, who is an orphan because of the war.  Veronyka is also an animage, which means she can communicate with animals. Animages are considered dangerous by the new empire, so Veronyka lives in hiding.  As an animage, however, Veronyka’s biggest dream is to find and join the Phoenix Riders.  She knows they’re still out there somewhere and is willing to do whatever it takes to become one of them, especially if it will get her away from her psychologically abusive sister, Val.

When Val betrays Veronyka in a most heinous and cruel way, Veronyka abandons her and sets out on her own, determined that she will either find the Phoenix Riders or die trying.  She finally locates a compound where apprentices are being trained to become Phoenix Riders. It’s everything she hoped it would be, except there’s a catch.  They aren’t taking new apprentices because they don’t have anymore available phoenixes and even if they were, they only train boys.  To join their ranks, Veronyka disguises herself as a boy, Nyk, and signs on as a stable hand.  She makes friends with Tristan, the son of the Phoenix Riders’ commander, who promises to sponsor Nyk as an apprentice Phoenix Rider the next time they’re taking on new apprentices.

Can Veronyka keep her true identity hidden?  Where’s Val during all of this?  Are the Phoenix Riders safe from the new empire?  What will happen if they’re discovered?

My favorite character, by far, in Crown of Feathers was Veronyka.  The author had me in her corner from the first moment we meet her and see how poorly her sister Val treats her.  And as much as I hated it when Val betrays Veronyka, I loved the growth we get to see in Veronyka when she sets out on her own.  She’s determined, she’s fierce, and just a real force to be reckoned with, especially the closer she gets to making her dream come true.  She had my sympathy right away but eventually she earned my respect and admiration as well.

I also really liked the other two main characters, Tristan and Sev, and thought they also had interesting journeys in this book.  As I mentioned earlier, Tristan is the son of the Phoenix Riders’ commander.  He is under tremendous pressure to live up to his father’s high expectations so that he might lead the Riders someday. In addition to watching his relationship with Nyk/Veronyka grow, much of Tristan’s journey focuses on him desperately trying to overcome his fears and make his father proud.  Sev, like Veronyka, is an animage in hiding.  Unlike Veronyka, however, Sev is hiding in plain sight, working as a soldier in the empire’s army.  His life takes an interesting and even more dangerous turn when he is approached by someone who knows what he is and is tasked with spying on the enemy from within.

Having the story unfold from these three unique perspectives added so many complex layers and interesting relationship dynamics. I really enjoyed watching all three of these characters grow and mature.

Aside from the characters, I also loved the whole concept of the Phoenix Riders.  The visual of these fierce warriors riding on fiery phoenixes gave me chills, and I also loved the way the author describes the unbreakable bond that forms between a phoenix and his or her rider of choice.  Everything about this was just so well thought out and well written. The author made it very easy to see why becoming a Phoenix Rider was Veronyka’s dream.

The ending was actually my absolute favorite part of Crown of Feathers.  If you’re into epic battle scenes, this book is for you.  I don’t want to spoil anything but think along the lines of the battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or even the battles to protect the wall in Game of Thrones.  It was so intense and had me flying through the pages to see who would come out on top.  Regardless of my overall rating, I’d give the last 100 or so pages 5 stars.

My biggest issue with A Crown of Feathers centered on the worldbuilding.  As I mentioned, I thought the world itself was fantastic, especially the Phoenixes and the whole idea of the Phoenix Riders.  I just had a hard time with the way all of the background information was inserted in large clumps throughout the story.  It’s probably just me but getting the information that way really slowed the pacing of the story for me at times and just felt in the way of the action.

I also wanted more interaction between Val and Veronyka.  I have a thing for complicated sibling dynamics and was so excited by the way this story started off with Val betraying Veronyka in such a big way.  Then she just disappeared for hundreds of pages.  I spent much of the book wondering when she was going to make an appearance and either redeem herself or make things even worse between herself and Veronyka.

Even though I struggled with the pacing in the first half of the book, I still think Crown of Feathers is a very solid series opener and a stellar debut effort.  The way this first book ended has me very excited to find out where the story is going next. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, fierce female protagonists, and of course, those beautiful fiery phoenixes.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

three-half-stars

About Nicki Pau Preto

Nicki is a YA fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: she loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular 9-5 life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.

Her YA fantasy debut CROWN OF FEATHERS is coming February 12, 2019 from Simon Pulse.

Review: SISTERS OF THE FIRE by Kim Wilkins

Review:  SISTERS OF THE FIRE by Kim WilkinsSisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins
Also by this author: Daughters of the Storm
four-stars
Series: Blood and Gold #2
Published by Del Rey on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 448
Also in this series: Daughters of the Storm
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

SISTERS OF THE FIRE Review

Sisters of the Fire is the second installment in Kim Wilkins’ captivating epic fantasy series, Blood and Gold.  It picks up four years after the events of the first book, continuing the adventures of the five royal daughters of the King of Thyrsland.  Events from the first book have left the King’s daughters scattered far and wide throughout the kingdom.  Only Bluebell, the eldest daughter, has remained at home with her father, as she will be heir to the throne one day.  Bluebell has attained nearly legendary status as a warrior and is deemed by most to be unkillable, so when she learns one of her enemies has had a magical sword created that has the power to kill her and that it is in the possession of one of her sisters, Bluebell goes on a quest to find each of her sisters and figure out who has the sword so that she can destroy it before it can do her harm.

As with the first book in the series, we follow the perspectives of each of the five sisters, so we see what trials and tribulations the other four sisters are facing while we’re also following Bluebell on her quest.  Sister Ash, a seer, is still in self-imposed exile learning to control her magic and hunting dragons, while sister Rose, is in hiding, having been cast aside by her husband because she was unfaithful. What made this second book an even better read for me than the first one was that the two younger sisters had much bigger roles this time whereas they felt more like secondary characters in the first book.  Ivy is living with her much older husband and is in a position to attain great power should something happen to him, and Willow, our religious zealot from the first book, has become even more fanatical about her faith when we meet her in this book.

Sisters of the Fire is filled with secrets, lies, betrayal, plenty of action, familial love, and yes, even a few hints of romance. It also does a wonderful job of advancing the story arcs of each of the sisters, as well as introducing my new favorite character, Rose’s daughter, Rowan, who was an infant in the first book. Rowan has grown into a feisty rebellious character, who aspires to be a fierce warrior like her aunt Bluebell, while everyone around her wants her to be proper and ladylike.  She’s a delightful addition to what was already a stellar cast of badass females, and I can’t wait to see how she factors in as this exciting series continues.

With this second installment, the Blood and Gold series continues to impress me and I look forward to seeing what is in store for all of the sisters, and of course, Rowan, in the next book. I highly recommend the series to fantasy fans, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about complicated family dynamics, especially sibling relationships.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

In the next chapter of a fantasy series featuring five unforgettable sisters—the warrior, the magician, the lover, the zealot, and the gossip—an insidious threat jeopardizes a fragile peace.

Four years have passed since the five royal sisters—daughters of the king—worked together to restore their father to health and to the throne while fracturing the bonds among themselves almost irreparably. Only Bluebell remains at home, dutifully serving as heir to her father’s kingdom. Rose has been cast aside by her former husband and hides in exile with her aunt, separated forever from her beloved daughter, Rowan. Ash wanders the distant wastes with her teacher, learning magic and hunting dragons, determined that the dread fate she has foreseen for herself and her loved ones never comes to pass. Ivy rules over a prosperous seaport, married to an aged husband she hates yet finding delight in her two young sons and a handsome captain of the guard. And as for Willow, she hides the most dangerous secret of all—one that could destroy all that the sisters once sought to save.

four-stars

About Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published all over the world. She lives in Brisbane with a bunch of lovable people and pets.