Book Review

Book Review: The Second Blind Son (The Chronicles of Saylok) by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: July 20th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An insidious curse is weakening the Norse kingdom of Saylok, where no daughters have been born in years. Washing up on these plagued shores is Ghisla, an orphaned stowaway nursed back to health by a blind cave dweller. Named for a mysterious god, the boy, Hod, is surrounded by prophecy. To Ghisla, he’s a cherished new friend. To Hod, the girl is even more so. For when Ghisla sings, Hod can see.

Unable to offer safe shelter, Hod urges Ghisla onward to become a daughter of the temple, where all the kingdom’s girl children have been gathered. But because of a magical rune, the two cannot be separated, no matter the time or the distance.

Now, subject to a ruthless king, Ghisla enters a desperate world of warring clan chieftains and catastrophic power struggles. Who among them can be trusted is unknowable. So are the sacrifices Ghisla and Hod must make to defeat the cursed forces that could destroy a kingdom and the fated bond between two souls.

A lost girl and a blind boy discover their greatest strength is their bond with each other in a beguiling fantasy by the New York Times bestselling author of The First Girl Child.

THE TENSION.

I’m sure I mention this every time, but it needs to be said. Amy Harmon is eternally one of my all time favorite authors and I auto-buy everything she writes. I was giddy to get more stories from Saylok and I devoured this book. It’s fantastic on audio if you’re interested in that format!!

I LOVED the story between Hod and Ghisla. Young teens who met and then their story took off in all sorts of new directions. The pacing of the aging is great. I didn’t feel too much time was spent in any one age group as they got older and the tension between them only became thicker. It was all so incredibly romantic and tender. I’m still swooning over Hod. It’s one of those epic love stories.

One minor aspect I didn’t love was how much of the first book, The First Girl Child, was written alongside. There’s a LOT of Bayr and Alba’s love story too. It wasn’t bad, I was just hoping for more of an entire focus on Hod and Ghisla. I didn’t love moving back and forth between the stories (Even though the narrators are always Hod or Ghisla).

The mythology and Viking aspects make the setting come alive. Along with Harmon’s writing that is always gorgeous and enchanting you forget the characters aren’t real. Being transported back to Saylok is the exact kind of escape I look for in a fantasy.

Absolutely another win for Harmon and I will be waiting for her next book!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to brief open door, and some closed door scenes
  • Violence: war scenes, physical altercations, murder
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual assault, loss of parents, ableism, bullying

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1) by Emily Thiede

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Emily Thiede
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: June 28th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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 Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

THAT WAS SOMETHING.

I feel perplexed by my thoughts on this one.

We’ll start here. On one hand, I had a hard time putting this down. The writing was great and captivating. Easy to follow and fly through. I LOVED the banter between the love interests Alessa and Dante. And hello, a bodyguard romance? YUP. You read that right. The build-up was sweet and I liked how they got to know each other and connected on multiple levels.

I also did liked this cast of characters. Everyone had different personalities and nobody blended into the background. I would have loved even more background on Alessa’s new group of friends to solidify those relationships even more.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t call this a strong fantasy. It leans heavily to the romance (which is fine for me), but not hard enough into the world building and magic system. Things were laid out well, yet as I was finishing the book I realized some aspects just didn’t make sense? It’s hard to explain, but as a devout fantasy lover there were things missing for me.

Definitely still interested in the second book. I think that has a lot of potential and I would looooove to see where this romance can go. Can’t wait!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA/NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: vague open door
  • Violence: physical and magical altercations, creature attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted murder, near death experiences, kidnapping, imprisonment, mentions of past child abuse, thoughts of suicide (and others trying to convince the MC to commit suicide)

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Book Review

Book Review: Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers #3) by Chloe Liese

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 358 pages
Author: Chloe Liese
Publisher: Self published
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.

Aiden

I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby.

With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya

I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much. 

As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

Ever After Always is a marriage-in-crisis, opposites-attract romance about a sensitive, fierce-loving woman and her resilient husband who has anxiety disorder. Complete with island vacation antics, a sibling prank gone wrong, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the third in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

DEEPLY FELT.

Third book in the Bergman Brothers [& Sisters] series and I’m still smitten as ever. Another great read that is only further solidifying my love for these characters.

I love that this was a marriage in crisis trope. After reading books like Bromance Book Club, I’m realizing I tend to enjoy this trope! There can be a lot of exploration here and this had many many conversations that I appreciated and resonated with 100x over.

The anxiety rep with Aiden was something I loved most. Even more unique to this story was the discussion of how anxiety affects communication and sex drive. Something I haven’t come across in a romance novel. The love and passion Aiden has for Freya is eternally my favorite. I appreciate any character willing to take a low point in their lives and actually try and do the work to make things better. Through therapy, tough conversations, and learning how to rekindle their intimacy, Freya and Aiden had me devouring this book to see that spark turn into a flame again.

Moving locations to a vacation was a different addition and I think the change of location helped a lot for the plot. Adding a lot more romance and moments where Aiden and Freya could work on themselves and their marriage (and who doesn’t love a tropical location?). There’s clearly a deep love between them and that easily gave me the stamina to see this read through.

There were many things I loved about this read (even if it isn’t my all time favorite of the series). I can’t wait for Axel’s story next!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to many open door scenes
  • Violence: falling from a cliff, breaking a bone
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: parental abandonment, anxiety, alcoholism, poverty recounted

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) by Robert Jordan

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 608 pages
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 15th, 1991
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn.

BETTER.

I have been waiting for my mood reading self to want to pick this up since book two kind of let me down. But it’s okay! This was an improvement.

Right now my favorite character would have to be Perrin. I want alllll of the POV from him. I liked his story arc for this read and the addition of a potential love interest. Mat was also a bit POV this round and I still don’t know how to feel about him? He kind of sketches me out, like I’m expecting him to do something shady. Mat will keep you on your toes.

Egwene is still a favorite and I loved her progression too. I feel like most of this book was focused on character production rather than plot. There wasn’t enough movement, some more knowledge did come out of it all eventually. I kind of missed Rand’s whiny self and can’t wait to see what he’s up to next.

The audio is fantastic per usual and I am finally settling into the story. Remembering who characters are and the larger goal of this story. Can’t wait for the next one.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping, physical and magical altercations, weapons violence

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