ARCs · Book Reviews

Daughter of Lies and Ruin by Jo Spurrier Review

If they didn’t want to get turned into beasts and used to fuel a ritual, they shouldn’t have attacked a witch. That’s all there is to it.

There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.

Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.

Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself

*I am an affiliate of and any purchases made through my links will help independent bookstores and earn me a small commission*

* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! *

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Curse of Ash and Embers and was excited to be back in the world of the Blackbone Witches. I absolutely love our two main characters, Aleida and Elodie, and how magic works in this universe. In this book, Elodie is continuing her training as a witch when they’re attacked by bandits on the road, setting in motion a series of troubling and exciting events. Although I didn’t like the plot of this one as much as the first, it was still fun and full of action. It sort of felt like a transition book, setting up a bigger story arc for later in the series. I liked the new characters that were introduced, especially getting to see another type of witch. The ending was very cinematic and exhilarating, and while it wrapped up nicely, the story still has room to build and expand. I would definitely read on in this series and am looking forward to the next book!

ARCs · Book Reviews

War of the Twin Swords by Julia Godhirsh Review

On the night before her Choosing, there were whispers of war in the air.

After binding herself to Clarent, Opal is given a grim prophecy of her future. Alone and ostracized from her clan, she finds an unlikely ally in the sorceresses’ leader, Joan.

Joan is the reason the Sorceress clan wants to attack. She’s prophesied to pull Excalibur from its stone. But her clan wants its powers for a darker purpose.

They have to band together to stop the Sorceress clan’s invasion. Excalibur is on their side, but they’re outnumbered five to one. Can Opal escape this war unscathed?

Or will her prophecy come true?

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

This novelette is the start of a new series by Julia Goldhirsh called The Gem Stone Massacre series. At around 50 pages, it is a super quick read and a fast intro into this new world, billed as Merlin meets Once Upon a Time. The concept of this world, where the Enchantresses bind to a particular gemstone familiar to harness the gem’s powers, was fascinating to me and is an idea that has so much potential. The plot of this novelette is huge and full of action. Unfortunately because it was so short, all we got was the action. It almost felt like this was a summary of a larger novel. There was no chance for character or plot development and because of this, I found it hard to follow and care about what was happening. I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters or believe in their relationships. It’s a bummer because the world and the storyline are cool and exciting, and I think could develop into a pretty epic journey. I don’t know if the rest of the series are going to be full novels, or continue on as novelettes, but I really hope that they will be longer so that we can actually get into the meat of what has the bones to be a great story. Overall, I loved the idea and the plot, but I needed more depth to really bring the story and characters to life.

Book Reviews

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas Review

44778083Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous at first because it took me a while to get into this one.  The world was so big and confusing at the beginning, and it took me a bit to grasp all of the different races, ruling hierarchies, and vernacular, but once it sunk in I was hooked.  The steam-punk atmosphere was so unique and cool and I loved all of the different types of supernatural beings in one world with the mix of magic and technology.  There is also so much room to grow with this world.  It’s already huge and could go in a million directions, which is very exciting.  I absolutely loved the main character, Bryce.  Her sarcastic and biting nature combined with her loyal and fierce heart made me root for her throughout all of her obstacles.  Even through her sometimes irritating stubbornness, I wanted her to succeed.  Her friendship with Danika was wonderful and I felt their connection in my soul with every interaction and how it drove her and motivated her every decision.  I really liked our other main character, Hunt, too, especially the more we learned about his past and his current situation among the angelic hierarchy.  His relationship with Bryce progressed so nicely with sexual tension galore and a deep and meaningful friendship.  I loved the arc of their relationship and how they both helped each other overcome their demons, literally, but there is still room for them to grow together in the next book.  The plot was interesting, action-packed, and different, and had a couple really good twists.  There were a few moments towards the end that felt a little out of character for our two heroes behavior-wise, but I still bought it.  Overall I thought it all worked out well and really enjoyed the conclusion. So, thank you Sarah J. Maas for once again giving us a gripping and epic story and world to fall in love with.  I cannot wait to see where it takes us.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Dark Secret by Danielle Rose

cover179707-mediumThere’s no wrath like that of a witch scorned.

Seventeen-year-old spirit witch Ava López is the self-appointed guardian of the witches and humans of Darkhaven, an idyllic village nestled between the forest and the sea. Her watch: vicious and bloodthirsty vampires.

Ava is a novice in the eyes of her coven. If she expects to protect them and the secrecy of their powers, she must gain better control of her own. When a full moon ritual goes awry, control may be lost forever, and Ava is exiled from her coven. Forced to seek refuge among the beings she had always sworn herself to hunt, she vows revenge on those who have upended her life.

But the more time Ava spends away from her coven, the more she discovers a startling truth: the witches haven’t been honest with her. Ava’s quest to strip the truth from everything she’s ever known begins with the toughest realization of all—coming to terms with who she has become.

*I received this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Waterhouse Press for the opportunity!*

Release Date: February 18th, 2020

There is nothing that draws me to a book more than it being a story about witches.  I absolutely love them in all shapes and forms.  Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me.  Dark Secret is a very short book, coming in at 184 pages, and while the length of a book doesn’t determine the strength of the story, this one felt rushed and underdeveloped.  I really liked where the plot went, but every event moved so fast and we didn’t get enough time to invest in the characters.  They were all very surface level and I wished I would have had more to connect with and care about them.  I liked the main character, Ava, in the beginning, but she became so wishy-washy as the story progressed and it didn’t make sense.  I understood the complexity of the situation that was trying to be portrayed, but the way it was written didn’t accomplish the emotional depth and confusion in a way that felt real.  I did love the way witches and their magic were portrayed in this world, and I really wish we could have gone deeper into the coven and Ava’s place within it.  Her journey was a tough one, and while we only see the beginning of her arc in this book, there could have been a stronger emotional change for her.  In the end, this book had a fun and quick plot, but lacked the character and emotional depth that makes a book feel complete.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Reverie by Ryan La Sala

40131428._SY475_Summary: Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thank you to SourceBooks for this opportunity!*

I enjoyed this book.  It wasn’t an out of this world read, but it was thoroughly entertaining.  The concept is really cool and I loved getting sucked into each of the “reveries”, which are daydreams come to life.  They were so vividly described and the way everything worked was explained really well, which is so important with such a creative concept that could have easily gone off the rails.  Kane was an interesting hero.  I wasn’t sure about him at first, but as he starts to put his memories back together I warmed up to him.  “The Others,” Kane’s group of friends, were really fun and each had bright distinct personalities which made for an interesting ensemble.  The villain was a complicated character, which I appreciated, and I loved the similarities of them and Kane and getting to watch Kane figure out what is right for himself.  On paper everything about this book was wonderful, but for some reason, I just felt that something was missing.  There wasn’t anything, in particular, that was wrong with it but there was a lack of depth in my connection and absorption into the story.  In spite of that, I still had a good time with this one, absolutely loved the concept, and I can definitely see other people falling in love with this story.

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Book Reviews

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin Review

40024139Summary: Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

As most of you know I love any and everything witchy and I have been wanting to read this book for so long.  Witches, witch hunters, and forbidden love?  That absolutely GORGEOUS cover!? Sign me up!  Luckily I was not disappointed.  Lou is a fantastic character.  She is gritty, fierce, and swears like a sailor.  I loved her tenacity despite everything life had thrown at her and through all of her self preservation, she still cared about others.  Reid was the complete opposite of Lou with his uptight, straight-laced personality, and they balanced each other well.  Watching them slowly break down each other’s walls was lovely and built their chemistry in a great way.  I really rooted for them in their conflicted world- which was nicely developed.  We got a great sense of its history, especially dealing with magic and the constant war between the witches and the Chasseurs.  The way the witches’ magic worked was really interesting and made a lot of sense with the give and take of the power.  The plot had a few slower moments, but overall it was really engaging and relationship-driven.  There were a few thrilling twists and the ending was exciting and set us up perfectly for a sequel.  I enjoyed this book a lot and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Something Wicked by Nicole M. Rubino

48190470Summary: A breakup and a car accident are no way to start your seventeenth birthday.

For Theo Montgomery, that is exactly how it began. Her bad luck turns worse when she returns home from a school dance to find her house on fire–with her parents still inside.

Following their deaths, Theo is sent to live with her estranged aunt in Salem, Massachusetts. If a new home and a new school aren’t enough to deal with, Theo discovers her aunt has a secret: she is a witch. And so is Theo.

Theo must learn keep her magic in check, lest the Town’s notorious witch hunters discover that magic has returned to the world after more than three hundred years. But how can she navigate a new school, new magical powers and avoid the witch hunters, when she finds herself enjoying the company of one?

Trystan de Lancre is a dangerous witch hunter, but that doesn’t keep Theo from wanting to discover more about him. Harboring secrets of his own, Trystan isn’t the only perilous force in Salem. Something has returned to the village; something that the witches believed to have been dead and buried long ago.

Salem’s dark past rises to haunt Theo and the present-day witches, unraveling a shocking revelation: the real cause of the Salem Witch Trials.

This book was awesome.  I loved every second of reading it and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.  Was the writing amazing? No, but it was so much fun and I really liked the characters, the story, and the vibe.  The plot was really entertaining and even though it was predictable at times, the twists were still totally satisfying.  The romance between Theo and Trystan was quick, but never felt rushed and I thought their chemistry was good and built up nicely.  I loved Theo’s Aunt Elizabeth and I can’t wait to learn more about her (I have a feeling something big is coming).  My one main concern about the book was the system of magic.  It was a bit muddy and since it is such a major component of the plot, I wish the boundaries and rules for it would have been clearer and stronger.  Because of that, I can’t give the book 5 stars, but I’m going to give it a strong 4 and I even had a slight book hangover after this one.  I cannot wait to see how the story continues!  If you like witches, I definitely recommend.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

42613944._SY475_Summary: In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Thank you to Blink for giving me the opportunity!* 

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

I cannot get over how cool and unique the concept for this book was.  The power to see, take and transport someone else’s memories, an ability which only some people have, was fascinating.  What was even more fascinating was the use of those memories after they were taken from their owners, like the rich taking happy memories to feel those good emotions, absorbing the skills someone spent years perfecting or using painful memories as a means of torture.  The whole idea really brings to mind how important our memories are to who we become as people.  The system of magic was handled so well and played a huge part in the world-building.  I loved Etta, and the more we learned about her backstory the more I loved her.  We meet her at such an interesting point in her life, and it was interesting to watch her try to pick up the pieces of her mistakes and deal with her grief.  The plot in the first half of the book was entirely gripping and I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing of all the little reveals about the past and its ripples were incredibly well done.  There was a great and unexpected twist in the middle of the book but after that the action kind of lost its luster.  It felt rushed through and they had very little obstacles until the ending.  Her relationship with her love interest was sweet and a bit of a slow burn, but I wish they would have had more heat and tension between them so we could really feel the build-up.  The ending was was smart, but I wish it would have been a tad bit clearer so I could have fully embraced the effects of its cleverness.  I’m torn with what to rate this book because I am still completely awed by the concept and the exciting plot of the first half, but in the end, I was left a bit underwhelmed.  Because of that, I have to give it a high 3 stars.

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Book Reviews

ARC August Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

43822758Summary: The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

*Release Date: September 3rd, 2019*

I loved it.  This book is good y’all.  The adventure starts right away and I was instantly sucked into the life of Theodora Fox.  She is feisty, smart, and stubborn, and I knew from the first chapter that I was going to love her.  When Huck reenters her life with instructions from her treasure-hunting father, so does the drama.  Every second of this book was exciting, mysterious, and fun.  It was a great mix of action, puzzle-solving, and magic with an angsty historical teen romance.  Theo and Huck’s chemistry was evident from the start, and I loved their history together.  The pacing of the whole book was so well done, always keeping the plot moving forward in an entertaining way.  The writing was stunning, witty, and oh so readable.  Bennet created such a perfect atmosphere for this story, and I fell in love with the setting and its mysticism.  The magic and occultism in this book were fascinating and fit so well in the world.  This book was a little outside of my fantasy comfort zone, but I am so glad that I went with it because it’s fantastic.  I highly recommend.

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Book Reviews

ARC August Review: The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter



Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  The concept was incredible and the plot was super addicting. I absolutely loved the prophecy and the mystery it created for us to figure out as the story and characters progressed, and it was set up nicely for us right at the beginning- creating a really magical and addicting story.  The plot is full of action, romance, adventure, and has a million twists and turns.  I couldn’t wait to see how everything played out through the lens of the prophecy.  What really makes this book special though, is the depth and complexity of the characters.  Showalter really turns this fairytale retelling into an exploration of good and evil, and how our choices affect our fate.  The knowledge of the prophecy really messed these people up. Our narrator, Everly, was a fascinating character and I loved her.  Supposedly fated to become The Evil Queen in Snow White, she is constantly conflicted about what is right and what actions she should follow through, always fighting against her prophesized future.  While she grows a lot throughout the story, there were a few developments that seemed to come out of nowhere and were a bit muddied. I felt that her emotions would do a complete 180 with very little prompting, and it often left me a bit confused as to how we got to this point.  Most of the time I was on board with her though, and I loved her strength, feistiness, and her “evil”, or dare I say human, tendencies.  Her relationship with Prince Roth started out a little bit insta-lovey, but we are inside a fairytale after all, and it grew into a much deeper bond that was incredibly steamy and their chemistry was squeal-inducing.  The other characters involved in the prophecy all went through complex emotional turmoil while trying to figure out which role they played and what their futures held.   This book is a wild ride of love and betrayal, magic and adventure, and steamy romance wrapped up into a beautifully created fairytale world that I really hope to see more of in the future.

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