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: Gleam (The Plated Prisoner #3) by Raven Kennedy

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 681 pages
Author: Raven Kennedy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 31st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.

The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out… Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.

I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.

But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.

He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.

Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.

Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, It’ll be me setting the trap… I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.

I GUESS I’LL READ BOOK FOUR?

I held off on picking this one up as long as I could. Unpopular opinions flying out ya, you’ve been warned.

Nothing happens in this entire series for 90% of these books. The last 10% gets a bit wild, you feel called to pick up the next, but it’s the same dang cycle. Auren spent most of this particular installment wandering around a castle looking for an old guard who I didn’t know she cared so much about?? I must be feeling cold-hearted, but I needed way more than that. Castle wandering is BORING. BO-RING.

I did like some stuff; namely Rip. The romantic development was good. Plenty of swoony conversations when Rip shows his feelings and his alpha nature is *chef’s kiss*. The steam was wayyy past my limits, but there wasn’t much of it (considering 700 pages) and is easy to skip by. If there had been even more just general interaction between Rip and Auren that would have raised this book.

At last, Auren finally used her power. So the ending was interesting and expected. I wasn’t flipping out (as I was told would happen) but I am genuinely curious how there’s supposed to be a book four? I’m sure there’s more wandering to be had. One can hope that Auren really does something next round.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: two open door; high explicit
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: domestic abuse, rape (off page but alluded to), sexual assault, drug use, torture, weapons violence

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Book Review

Book Review: The North Wind (The Four Winds #1) by Alexandria Warwick

Rating: ★★★
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 551 pages
Author: Alexandria Warwick
Publisher: Andromeda Press
Release Date: January 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lush. Dark. Romantic. Introducing a newly reimagined tale written in the vein of Beauty and the Beast and Hades and Persephone.

Long before civilization, there were the gods. And before the gods, there was the earth, the celestial bodies, and air given flesh. They are the Anemoi—the Four Winds—and they have been banished to the four corners of the world.

Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. Her parents are gone. Survival is all she knows. For three hundred years, the land known as the Gray has been encased in ice, surrounded by a great barrier called the Shade, which protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond.

But day by day, the Shade weakens.

Only one thing can stop the Shade’s fall: a mortal woman taken captive across the barrier, bound in wedlock to the dark god who reigns over the Deadlands. He is the North Wind, the Frost King, an immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules.

And the time has come for the Frost King to choose his bride.

The North Wind is a standalone, enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance, the first in a series sprinkled with Greek lore. Perfect for fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout, Laura Thalassa, and Scarlett St. Clair.

DISAPPOINTED.

This was not all I hope it to be folks. Just wasn’t.

I LOVED the initial premise. The Frost King comes to get a bride? Gimme that. I would say I was into the first 40% or so. The plot moved well and I did like the writing throughout. There’s definitely a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance that I know others will love.

BUT.

Where it fell flat for me was some of the world building that became glaringly confusing. Even by the end I still had unanswered questions that would alter the entire story. There wasn’t a deep enough explanation into the main conflict (and reasoning why the King needed a bride). Holes here left holes in the entire plot that I couldn’t look past. If you’re reading this purely for the romance, you’ll probably like it, but if you’re looking for more fantasy built around it you might be disappointed like me.

The main character did have some growth. Naive and immature to start yet found her footing by the end. I liked most of the development for her and the relationship with the Frost King. Too much spice for me personally that didn’t further the plot and felt added to increase the steam but not the substance.

I’m thinking about trying the next book in this series. Hopefully it’s at least 100 pages shorter than this one. Not all I hoped for, but not all bad either.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical and magical altercations, alcoholism, creature attacks, near death experiences, blood and gore, battle scenes

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