Book Review

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

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 710 pages
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Blue Box Press
Release Date: October 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Flesh and Fire series is set in the beloved Blood and Ash world.

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

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

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

WHY SO LONG.

After not loving the third book in the FBAA series, I decided to give this one a chance hoping it would reignite my love, but alas, that hope was dashed.

Why are these books so long?????? Take away 300 pages and then I would say we have a really great fantasy on our hands. Instead we get a lot of fluff + some info dumping chapters to round out a 700 page monster.

I did like Nyktos. He’s the saving grace. I liked his personality and how sweet he was on Sera. There quiet moments together when they got to talking were tender and I love how both of them began opening up to each other. Sera was a copycat of Poppy. Apparently that was on purpose? At least she asked a lot less questions. I definitely liked her more than Poppy. There was too much steam for me personally. Some scenes furthered the connection and plot, others just seemed there to add in another few pages.

The info dumping did add more to this world and I got a better understanding of the things I learned from TCoGB. I’m still on the fence about continuing this story. We’ll see.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open door
  • Violence: war and battle themes, weapons violence, magic violence
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, torture (whipping), loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.

Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.

With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

Haunting and romantic, Kristen Ciccarelli’s Edgewood is an exciting novel from a bold, unforgettable voice in fantasy.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

MELODIC & HAUNTING.

Well if the cover isn’t already drawing you in, let me tell you, this was a GREAT standalone fantasy. They’re often hit or misses. This was a hit. Happy I read it. Couldn’t get enough of it.

I really liked the main character, Emeline. She had limits, yet didn’t let that stop her. She used her strengths and her heart to make the decisions and I never found myself wanting to roll my eyes at her choices. I love a heroine who grows and comes into her own over the course of a book.

The romance with Emeline and Hawthorne enchanted me way more than I was expecting. I like a long haul, yet this quick paced romance got me good. I liked the reveals, the quiet, tender moments and the clear passion emanating from their bond across time.

A well thought out plot that touches on some tough subjects (see trigger/content warnings). Reading the author’s note at the end brought the novel into an even better light. I like the way things were handled and the acknowledgement of how tough getting older and coping with those changes can be. While at the initial moment, I didn’t love the ending, the further I thought about it (and now writing this review), I see the connection. I see the intention of the author in this choice and really think it fits for the book.

This isn’t a full fantasy, it’s got a dash of urban nature to it. I love a good urban fantasy + fae though so no complaints here. I love all of the music components and everything else this book offered. I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: brief/vague open door (2ish scenes)
  • Violence: physical altercations, weaponry, creature attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a grandparent with dementia, loss of memory without consent, kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 538 pages
Author: Mariana Zapata
Publisher: Self published
Release Date: February 1st, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

BRB SWOONING.

AHHH.

Every dang time Ivan Lukov started talking to Jasmine you bet I was SWOONING. Holy cow that man can give a loving speech. He can hype me up any day. I loved him. I loved his support and sweet and small ways he cared for Jasmine. Building up that friendship and partnership into something more. My heart can’t handle that many skips in one book!

In typical MZ fashion there’s a long wait for the pay-off with this one. Dare I say a bit too long? At least for me the first 100-200 pages were a bit slower than usual. There was a loooot of hatred and disgruntlement that were the crux of Jasmine’s life. And at last, once she started taking small steps back towards her ultimate goals things started to open up.

Wow do I love a sports romance and this was no different. I love that this was about figure skating!! I felt like I learned a lot about the sport and it was the perfect counter balance against the romance. One didn’t outshine the other. Another wonderful MZ read. I’m slowly working through her books and now that this has been my fifth, I’m still in awe at how addicting these stories are.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: very strong and often
  • Romance: one open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: fatmisia and body shaming, misogyny, sexual harassment, stalking, bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: NA Contemporary romance
Length: 421 pages
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

MIXED THOUGHTS.

I know this is an unpopular opinion, buuuut it is what it is. I didn’t love this. Truly didn’t hate it either, just felt some disconnects.

What I did love was HENRY. He was one of my favorites. Him and Alex together were great. I loved anytime they got those precious soft and quiet moments where I could really feel the love between them. It was passionate and bold and had me absolutely cheering for them.

I struggled with the first half of the book because I thought it got hot and heavy too fast. Everytime Alex and Henry saw each other it was to run off to a closet and have sex. I wanted more burn and angst from them! That’s why I loved the second half more. More emotional connections and heartfelt conversations that swept me away.

Sometimes the political storyline really took me out of the book. Whenever it switched from the romance side of things I felt a detachment. Once again, this was somewhat remedied (at least on Henry’s end) in the second half of the book, but at that point it had become something majorly noticeable to me.

I absolutely LOVED the side characters (especially Alex’s Mom). They were funny, creative and so well written. I got a clear personality and intention from each of them and that really helped the entire story.

I liked how the ending wrapped up and the story at its heart was solid. I had a mixed bag of thoughts, but I’m glad I finally picked this one up.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Contemporary romance
  • Language: very strong and often
  • Romance: open and closed door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: homophobia, implied sexual assault (in the past of a side character)

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