Book Review

Book Review: The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 597 pages
Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a destructive power inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

I DID IT.

First time I tried to read this, I DNF at 140 pages.

Second time, I went with the audiobook and made it through. Even gave it four stars. I’m as surprised as you are.

My main issue is this dang love triangle. I just can’t get with it. And I still like the wrong guy more too. For a bit it seemed to push the narrative for inner conflict within the main character, Elloren. Now it seems superfluous with how much of the ending went. WHY THO. The constant thoughts Elloren has about Lucas and Ivan make her lack depth and opportunities for growth in other areas.

Ignoring my romantic plot issues with this one and we can get into how intricate the other aspects of the story are. It’s a heavy political read with many sides at play. At times devastating and shocking. Throw your book across the room status. Other times, things seems to finally be going the right way. I liked this push/pull nature and it helped keep the story moving.

I do plan on continuing. I’m invested enough to see how book three will take care of a few plot lines. We’ll see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: heated make-outs
  • Violence: mid-level blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: discrimination, racism, genocide, torture, kidnapping, small battle scenes

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Alison Saft

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Alison Saft
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

A BIT CONFUSING.

Oh the plight of a standalone fantasy.

I really enjoyed Down Comes the Night and have been excited to pick this one up and I’m kind of bummed it let me down.

What I struggled with most was the world building and magic system. It was obnoxiously convoluted for a standalone. Info dumping for some things and not broad enough explanations for others left me utterly directionless. Even by the end I was still a bit mixed on the religions, world system and more.

In the mix of things I did like was the romance. Wes and Margaret grew on me over the book. That sweet sense of first love and finding some who gets you and supports you. They were also solid as main characters. I love character growth and both exhibited plenty by the end. I enjoyed their banter and quiet moments.

Still not quite sure what the deal was with hunting the fox? It was a unique plot I’ll give it that, but I found myself skimming far more than I wanted. Great characterization and movement, but slow and enigmatic plot.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one vague and brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: discrimination, prejudice, breaking and entering, hunting (of animals), physical altercations, animal mauling, neglectful parents, depictions of grief

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Book Review

Book Review: Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Jill Criswell
Publisher: Blackstone
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

VIKING FAV.

First off, the audio book is excellent. I love the narration for the Lira. For Reyker, his was great too, but the narrator read faster and it was hard to listen to at the same speed I was listening to Lira’s narrator.

With that tidbit out of the way, I loved this book!! My friend has been pushing this on me for awhile and I finally picked it up and I thought, why did I wait so long?!

I love how fierce Lira was as a character. She had growth in her mindsets and strength to see things through. Lira constantly stood up for what was right and defended those who deserved it. Her connection with Reyker was fantastic. I loved this romance. The initial meeting gave me some Tristan & Isolde vibes. I thought it moved well and didn’t seem rushed. I think there’s so much here for a wonderful continuation throughout the series and I hope it goes that way.

While it was a solid four star throughout, I realized that I had gotten very much caught up in the characters and the story. I was enthralled by the writing and couldn’t stop listening. Those facts alone set this over to five stars for me. I just loved the setting and the Viking-esque nature of it all. There’s lots of action and emotion and I need to get my hands on book two ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Violence: intense and a bit bloody/gory, battle scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted rape, sexual assault, implied rape (off page), loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Bound by Firelight (Wickery #2) by Dana Swift

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Dana Swift
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 18th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The heart-pounding sequel to Cast in Firelight, perfect for fans of epic, sweepingly romantic fantasy by Sabaa Tahir, Susan Dennard, and Mary E. Pearson.

After a magical eruption devastates the kingdom of Belwar, royal heir Adraa is falsely accused of masterminding the destruction and forced to stand trial in front of her people, who see her as a monster. Adraa’s punishment? Imprisonment in the Dome, an impenetrable, magic-infused fortress filled with Belwar’s nastiest criminals—many of whom Adraa put there herself. And they want her to pay.

Jatin, the royal heir to Naupure, has been Adraa’s betrothed, nemesis, and fellow masked vigilante . . . but now he’s just a boy waiting to ask her the biggest question of their lives. First, though, he’s going to have to do the impossible: break Adraa out of the Dome. And he won’t be able to do it without help from the unlikeliest of sources—a girl from his past with a secret that could put them all at risk.

Time is running out, and the horrors Adraa faces in the Dome are second only to the plot to destabilize and destroy their kingdoms. But Adraa and Jatin have saved the world once already. . . . Now, can they save themselves?

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

LOVED THIS.

What a great conclusion!! My heart is happy with how things ended and I adore this duology so much. The writing captivated me. The world building was great and the magic system was unique. Add in a top notch romance and I have been smitten.

Jatin and Adraa were a power couple. Jatin was incredibly sweet and bold. All of his sweet words and soft moments with Adraa brought on the feels. I love how brave and unfailing Adraa was. Facing new avenues she might have laid down for a moment, but stood back up with even more fire in her veins. I loved them together and how this book didn’t have some dumb break-up. They worked together even when separated and WOW DO I LOVE THAT.

I wish the prison break set-up didn’t take so long because I wanted the group back together. I did think a lot of learning happened on both sides though that ultimately led towards the conclusion. The action scenes flowed well and I didn’t have glaring slow moments as I enjoyed this story.

This was a magical duo. I am really in awe this is a debut duo. I can’t wait to read Swift’s future books because I was very much wrapped up in this one.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: little (the use of the word Blood is the “curse” word)
  • Romance: implied closed door
  • Violence: blood/gore depiction, magical and physical attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: torture, false imprisonment, loss of a parent

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