Book Review

Book Review: A River Enchanted (Elements of Cadence #1) by Rebecca Ross

Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Fantasy + Romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Rebecca Ross
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: February 15th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan.

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

NEED BOOK TWO.

This was one of those BIG HYPED books that I took a chance on because I trusted my reading friends. NOT disappointed in the slightest. This is worth the hype and you should get your hands on it ASAP. Highly recommend the audio too because it is FANTASTIC.

I looooved the slow weaving of this tale. It is not fast paced. There’s an incremental build that leads to some devastating blows. And also, incredible reveals. I did not see many of them coming and love a good *gasp* moment as the pages wind down.

Multi-POV books are my jam and this is no different. Starting out with just two, and then increasing as more players came into the story I was enraptured. Each took on a role I wanted to know more about and added history to the lay of the land. I liked the addition of the elemental spirits and the easy understanding of the world and magic system.

ROMANCE. I adored both of the main romances happening amongst the cast. Jack and Adaira were my favorite and even though it’s a sub plot, I was very much attached to them. I am shocked by the ending and can’t wait for the next book. What a fantastic fantasy adult debut!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: little
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: mild blood
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping of young girls, physical altercations, weapons use, loss of loved ones, assault

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Defend the Dawn (Defy the Night #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

To save their kingdom, they must embark on a dangerous journey…

The kingdom of Kandala narrowly avoided catastrophe, but the embers of revolution still simmer. While King Harristan seeks a new way to lead, Tessa and Prince Corrick attempt to foster unity between rebels and royals.

But the consuls who control the Moonflower will not back down, and Corrick realizes he must find a new source for the lifesaving Elixir.

When an emissary from the neighboring kingdom of Ostriary arrives with an intriguing offer, Tessa and Corrick set out on an uncertain journey as they attempt to mend their own fractured relationship.

This could be their only chance to keep the peace and bring relief to the people of Kandala, but danger strikes during the journey to Ostriary, and no one is who they seemed to be. . .

Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for an eARC.

PROGRESSIVELY BETTER.

This was almost a miss for me, buuuut I liked the second half so much more that I’m anxious for the finale. And what I did most love was the writing. Kemmerer is a brilliant writer and I love how smooth and easy it is to follow her story and be tucked into the pages.

This book had very slow pacing. The entire first half was dedicated to getting onto a ship. At least interspersed were some total character upheavals. I think the progression focus was on who Corrick and Tessa are becoming. That mindset really helps set the scene for how a lot of these moments occur. I wish there was a toooouch more romance, but I feel it in my bones that it’s coming!

There’s even a third POV thrown in that was fun to figure out and to see another side to the world that was needed to keep the pace for book three. I think there’s SO MANY places that POV could go and I can’t wait to get to know them even more. I already love this character as much as Corrick and Tessa so it was exciting to have that added in as well.

While it took a long time to get to the ship, I do love a good boat book. There’s the right amount of drama and intrigue. Characters getting to know one another. And allll the secrets revealed (like what’s behind the door?!). I thoroughly enjoyed how this played out and even though the ending left me going WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, I know the next book will deliver too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: some mild
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of life, battle scenes, physical altercations, weapons violence, kidnapping, poisoning

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Ledge (The Glacian Trilogy #1) by Stacey McEwan

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Stacey McEwan
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After being randomly selected as a human sacrifice, instead of death, Dawsyn finds herself on a quest to save her people from their icy prison…

In a place known as The Ledge, a civilization is trapped by a vast chasm and sheer mountain face. There is no way for anyone to escape the frozen wasteland without befalling a deathly drop. They know nothing of the outside world except that it is where The Glacians reside – mystical winged creatures who bring them meagre rations to survive, in exchange for a periodic human sacrifice. Dawsyn, axe wielder and only remaining member of her family, has so far avoided the annual culling, but her luck has run out. She is chosen and ripped from her icy home, the only world she knows. No one knows what will happen to her on the other side, least of all Dawsyn. Murdered? Enslaved? Worse?Thankfully, the fates align and Dawsyn manages to escape their clutches with the help of a half-Glacian called Ryon. But trust does not come easily, and she keeps a trained axe to his throat while they journey together down the slopes. But who’s to say that the life below will be any better than the one she has run from?

Thank you Angry Robot and Netgalley for the eARC.

MIXED.

This book may have been too hyped for me, but I just didn’t love this like I hoped for.

The writing style took me a bit to get into, once there though, I was fine. I really liked the initial plot set-up and the winter vibes. It was unique with the chasm concept and the clear secrets being withheld from this group of humans stuck being terrorized by the Glacians. A winged folk group is always a good decision and I liked those aspects too.

What got me is the lack of intimacy between the love interests Ryon and Dawsyn (also love that name). I think the burn was a little too fast and with the writing style I didn’t feel fully invested in them. There was much more emphasis on their physical dynamics rather than any other facet that I also like seeing in a budding relationship.

With the focus turned so much inward the larger plot lost some steam. I liked many of the reveals and even seeing them coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment. There’s some good plot twist tropes I like (won’t mention specifics because of spoilers). BUT a particular scene towards the end felt too easy because there wasn’t enough time dedicated to this rebellion that was occurring.

Ending was totally shocking. I’m still sitting here contemplating how that’s supposed to work itself out. Am I intrigued enough to try book two? I *think* so.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple brief open door; low-med explicitness
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: mentions of rape and sexual assault, near death experiences, kidnapping, murder, physical and weapons altercations, battle scenes, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Castles in Their Bones (Castles in Their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 514 pages
Author: Laura Sebastian
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other? 

THAT ENDING SAVED THIS.

Let me start off with some audio comments. This is one of those few times where I’m going to say: skip the audio. All of the main characters (and their love interests around the same age) sounded closer to 10-12 year-olds than 17/18. I struggled with that (didn’t affect my overall rating though).

A lot of this was intriguing! The magic system is kind of cool with the stardust components and how stars actually fall from the sky?? Wild and I love it. I also love a good sister story and these three push and pull each other, but they clearly care for one another. It’s a heavy political fantasy and at times that did drag the plot.

I definitely needed some better world building initially. I was very much confused as to who was where and what that separate nation was like for almost half the book. A friend sent me the map/family tree and that helped tremendously.

The ending saved this book for me. It was fast paced, full of action, and I am still SHOCKED at some of the final scenes. Was it true?! I have questions and I will be seeking answers in book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, poison, loss of loved ones, executions

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