Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff Review

Hey beautiful booklovers! It been an age since I wrote a review for you all, and so why not start my coming back to social media with a review of a book I recently read and loved so much! Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff! I am so excited to chat about this one with you all. For all of you who watched my EotV chat on Youtube, this will be a more concise and comprehensive review compared to my chatter in that video, but for those of you who want to watch it that haven’t I have linked the video here for you.

So for those of you who do not know what this beauty is about (and I doubt there are many of you out there but you never know) here’s what it is about.

Synopsis From Amazon

It has been 27 long years since the last sunrise.

For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity, building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León, half man, half monster and last remaining silversaint – a sworn brother of the holy Silver Order dedicated to defending the realm from the creatures of the night – is all that stands between the world and its end.

Now imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.

Non-Spoiler Review

So it goes without saying, but I picked up this book (pre-ordered it actually) without having read the synopsis. It really was as simple as hearing Jay was writing a vampire book for me. I loved vampires growing up; by that I mean watching movies like Queen of the Damned, and Underworld, and just being utterly obsessed with how cool it was, not to mention my addiction for Victoria Frances artwork.

So what can I say about this book without spoiling it for those of you who haven’t read it yet?

Well, the worldbuilding is rich and full of life, the characters are gritty and relatable, and the way the story is told is captivating. It kept me engaged throughout, there were moments I laughed and moments I literally teared up because I was so invested in the story and Gabriel De Leon as our main character. The Vampires are ruthless, the humans, you’ll find, can be much the same. There were unexpected turns, moments of despair, and always the want to know what happens next. Overall this book gripped me from page one to the end, and left be thoroughly wanting more. I cannot wait to see what Jay will do with book two but you can be sure that I will be pre-ordering it as soon as I’m able and then consuming it unabashedly when it releases.

Well if you are still sticking around looking for more you must be my spoiler bunch who want the details on what I thought about X, Y, and Z. Don’t worry I aim to please…

Spoiler ReviewTurn back ye who haveth not readth this book…(okay that was terrible lol but you get what I mean!)

So, since I rambled a lot in my Youtube video, I am going to try my hardest to be more clear and concise here, therefore I will break it up into sections below, and let you know my thoughts on each. I will start of with the general and get more into the spoiler stuff as we go on.

Worldbuilding

So as I said above the worldbuilding in this book is fantastic, and I really fell head over heels for it. We get a similar style of worldbuilding to Jay’s previous ‘Nevernight Chronicles’ in the sense that there is different expressions based on where the characters are located or different gestures for cursing etc, than what we are used to in our everyday lives; this is something so small yet something I appreciate so much because it makes sense and it embellishes the story with more depth. Luckily for us there is no shortness of depth in this world, and it is just brimming with possibilities. We have a high society, an emperor (although very absent throughout), an empress, 4 royal houses of vampires one of which is invading the mortal lands with an army of the dead. We have a pretty comprehensive religion along with the fanatics who blindly follow despite the wrong they do in their Gods’ name, and we have tribes throughout the northern lands/ highlands; some of which deal in other Gods’ and magik (which would definitely be interesting to get more information on). The map of this world is beautiful, and when Jay is telling us the story through Gabriel’s eyes I felt as though this world was vast and real. There is definitely a sense of being able to walk straight into this world. The vastness of the world and its’ ability to captivate put me in mind of A Song of Ice and Fire in my opinion – not that the books are similar but more that the world is so actualised it has the same feel.

The Storytelling

Now, I mentioned in my video that the storytelling might not be for everyone since it is in the style of ‘sit down and tell me your tale’. We have a historian who comes to Gabriel in his cell and asks him to share his story. Now some people might be turned away from that, I personally wasn’t as this type of storytelling when done well can be great, and lets be clear…Jay done good! Then there is the whole split timelines thing that might also put people off, which I can understand because if I am being honest I don’t tend to like getting stuck into something only to be drawn out of it and then dropped into another timeline/ perspective. That being said I really didn’t have an issue with that in this book because both timelines were centred around Gabriel, and I was really invested in knowing his tale. There is also the strategic way in which Jay chose those timelines – they are far apart and give us enough to be engaged whilst also wondering what happened in between. For example, we still don’t know how Gabriel came to be in possession of Ashdrinker, and we also don’t know how he came to kill Fabien Voss. These are pretty big moments in his life yet we are kept away from the details which gives more intrigue and helps keep the reader focused on what they will learn next. What happened? How did that happen? When are we going tofind out tnis etc? This is all essential to good story telling because the question is what keeps us (the reader) moving forward with the story, and indeed what drives us back for the second instalment. Jay did a great job with his storytelling on this one and thoroughly has my attention.

The Holy Grail Storyline

As I said before, normally I don’t appreciate being pulled out of something I am enjoying and thrown into something else, and whilst it did take me a small bit to get into this timeline, I did actually end up loving it too. I know that makes it sound as though I slogged through…I didn’t, it was pretty quick for me to realise that this storyline was just as captivating. I think the reason for that is that it also centred around Gabriel, and by that point I was so invested in him I wanted every scrap of information he had to offer. Lets talk characters; in this timeline we have a familiar ‘face’ in Chloe, and we have a bunch of new characters in Dior, Saoirse, Bellamy, Rafa, and of course Phoebe. I appreciated Saoirse as this strong female warrior type who reminded me a lot of Scotland (as you may or may not know I am Scottish) and I loved that she came from some tribe that was steeped in old magik and things. Oh, and that fact that she had Phoebe by her side helped a little too! I loved that she didn’t take Gabriel’s crap at all. She was seriously giving off some bad b***h vibes and I was here for it. I loved Bellamy, he made me chuckle and I was actually surprised how sad I was at his death, I really wanted him to find his final song. Chloe, for me was a shock, because I wasn’t expecting her to be that person that was into human sacrifice and yet that’s exactly who she turned out to be. Dior grew on me massively and I can’t wait to hear more about her in the next instalment. Initially I wasn’t sure about her but she won me over for sure.

Let’s talk about the obvious…The whole sacrifice Dior, kill Gabriel, discovering Celene is still alive thing, because I’m not gonna lie to you folks…that was not what I expected. Well, for the most part anyway. Towards the end of this storyline I did feel that they were going to try either sacrifice Dior or do something along those lines, so I wasn’t overly surprised when that was the case. I did however not see Gabriel dying coming, mostly because he is telling this tale from a cell, but also because I had some kind of childish hope that he wouldn’t be able to be overpowered by them all. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much David Gemmell. Regardless, I wasn’t expecting his found ‘family’ Chloe, Greyhand etc to kill him and watch him die, it was such a betrayal for Gabriel and all because he didn’t believe Dior should die. Then once we get over that we realise that Liathe is actually Celene, and now she hates Gabriel for her untimely death at the hands of his enemy. I was SHOOKETH! There was no part of me at all that expected Celene to still be alive, and to find out that she was some sort of immortal badass with sanguimancy?!? Like what?! She is of the same Esani bloodline as Gabriel! Honestly I need answers folks!

The Early Life of Gabriel Storyline

I loved this storyline. Loved finding out where Gabriel came from, his family dynamic, and his trials and tribulations during his time training to become a Silversaint. It was interesting to have a main character who was young and full of pride to the point of making foolish mistakes. I was also not expecting to have Gabriel be thought of as a Frailblood, I was sitting there thinking ‘nah, that can’t be right’. I loved watching the friendship between Aaron de Coste and Gabriel form; I was fully expecting their hatred for one another to contribute to the death of Aaron, but I am so thankful that they became friends instead. I really enjoyed Greyhand’s character too, he was definitley that militarian man I’ve had the pleasure of meeting multiple times. He reminded me so much of being back in the army, and I loved that he was someone who lived for the Order. It was sad to see how his relationship with Gabriel developed into one of resentment, but that just made his character that much more real to me. Astrid – Honestly I was not expecting the relationship that formed between Gabriel and Astrid to be as pure as it was; I know that sounds weird, but they truly loved each other enough to turn their backs on their positions within the Order, and set out by themselves. It was unexpected but I loved that their relationship went that way.

I would say that Gabriel in this half of the story is very relatable, because he is young, wants to prove himself and is willing to take risks to prove his worth to others, and I feel like that is something all young and naïve people do; obviously not to this extent or within this context but nevertheless I feel it is relatable. Jay captured the spirit of being young, dumb, and ballsy in this part of Gabriel’s story and I loved it.

The Worst Day

What can I say about this chapter other than a part of my soul died reading it. This broke me, honestly. It was so hard to read how happy Gabriel was and how perfectly mundane his life was only for it to be taken so violently from him. Was it not bad enough that his child was murdered and his wife bled dry, but when he woke he had to kill his wife because she had become (cries hysterically whilst cursing Jay for being so cruel). The thing is…I knew it was coming. I knew they were dead, I just had that feeling but when we got to find out how, oh it was heart-breaking, and I just can’t wait to read about the moment Fabien Voss dies at Gabriel’s hands.

The Battles/ Confrontations

I was kind of expecting more battles in this book, not that I didn’t enjoy the conflict and fights that we did get, because I did, but I somehow fooled myself into thinking I would be getting more of those epic battles, probably because I stupidly thought I’d get to read about the fight with Fabien Voss and stuff but apparently I got ahead of myself. Either way what we did get was good, I certainly enjoyed the fights between Gabriel and Danton Voss. It was fun when Gabriel only told his true plan to Dior because he knew Danton would read everyone’s mind. That kind of thing makes me immensely happy, I always love it when our main character is one step ahead.

The Ending

So we come to the end of the story and the tale of Gabriel’s life hasn’t been fully told but he is in this cell and he gets his hands on Jean-Francois our historian, and tries to use his sanguimancy on him…which obviously didn’t work, but then we are reminded of the moth at the window, and of course my brain goes to Liathe, and makes me think she is keeping an eye on things. It definitely leaves the reader wanting that’s for sure, and as I keep saying makes me want to read the next book immediately.

What’s To Come/ Theories?

Okay, last bit folks. Theories. I do love me a theory and this book doesn’t disappoint with the possibilities. Firstly lets confront the obvious…Astrid. Yes, yes, I know I have been saying she’s dead and he killed her when she became, BUT let’s be honest here, Gabriel is telling this tale to his enemy, is he going to be honest? Probably not. Could he have killed Astrid? I’m not so sure. It’s entirely possible they have been sustaining each other to sate their blood lust, and she had been made by Fabien Voss, how old was that guy? It stands to reason that she would be a pretty powerful vampire, and given their relationship it could be that Gabriel finds himself with another powerful vampire ally. Why would he want to reveal that card up his sleeve so soon? Or maybe he really did kill her? Time will tell.

There is the matter of the sanguimancy too. Gabriel is obviously of a line that has the ability of sanguimancy, and throughout the book we are told that vampirism only passes from male sires to their boys, but then there is Liathe/ Celene who we are told has a different father from Gabriel…which leads me to believe that the Esani line has been passed down from his mother. It’s either that or Celene has the same father but that seems unlikely to me. It will be interesting to find out what the deal is with all this in book two.

I think it’s obvious that we will continue to find out the story that Gabriel is willing to tell in the next book but I have to wonder if he is comfortable there. Throughout the book he listens to the number of steps the servant takes when they rush from his cell etc, which to me is the observation of a man who has no plan to die yet. It feels like if he has been caught and is a prisoner, then it may be his plan to be there. He may have a reason to be comfortably sitting within the cell. Again, we must assume that Gabriel is an unreliable narrator as he considers Jean-Francois his enemy, so who really knows his motives.

On that note I think it would be foolish of us to assume that Dior is lost to Gabriel, as mentioned above it has to be assumed that he is unreliable and in that case why would he tell his enemy honestly where his allies are etc. As the saying goes, keep your enemies close, and this way Gabriel gets to belt feed Jan-Francois whatever he wants them to believe.

Either way I am very excited to find out what happens next!

Well, that’s it, you now have my thoughts on Empire of the Vampire! I hope you enjoyed my waffling, and please let me know in the comments if you’ve read it and what your thoughts were overall. Do you agree with any of my theories? Do you have any of your own? Let me know!

Windborn by Alex S Bradshaw | Release Day

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! I am back with a release day blitz thanks to Storytellers on Tour and of course Alex S Bradshaw! So big big thank you to both for allowing me to take part and to give some spotlight to this beauty!

You can find Windborn here on Amazon uk or here for Amazon US

It goes without saying that this tale in a Norse inspired one and you all know how much I love those so I was obviously very keen to be apart of the release day blitz. I haven’t finished this one yet but what I have read so far I have really enjoyed! Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Synopsis

Drowning is only the beginning…

Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.

But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.

That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.

But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.

Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.

Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.

Get your copy of Windborn now to hear Edda’s epic tale!

Sounds great doesn’t it? Now, as I’ve said I haven’t finished this beauty yet so can’t give a full review but what I will say is that I adore a story of revenge and vengeance and this book has that in abundance. Edda is fierce and unforgiving. She is everything I hoped she would be and inspires a strength in you as you read her. Now, let’s move on to teasing you with an excerpt!

Excerpt –

There you have it! I hope you are as excited about this as I am and hopefully one of you will pick it up soon. It is currently 99p on kindle so definitely check that out while the deal lasts.

That’s all from me today beautifuls, have a great day and read awesome books.

Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill Review

Hey beautifuls, I’m back with another review and this time I had the pleasure of reviewing Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill! I love supporting indie authors and when Ryan popped up on Instagram I was so intrigued by this story and he was awesome enough to give me an e-arc for review. As you all know, my opinions are my own, but lets get into the review so we can chat about this fabulous book!

You can buy it here on amazon!

Synopsis – from Amazon

Born in fire. Tempered in blood.

Epheria is a land divided by war and mistrust. The High Lords of the South squabble and fight, only kept in check by the Dragonguard, traitors of a time long past, who serve the empire of the North.

In the remote villages of southern Epheria, still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, Calen Bryer prepares for The Proving – a test of courage and skill that not all survive.

But when three strangers arrive in the village of Milltown, with a secret they are willing to die for, Calen’s world is ripped from under him and he is thrust headfirst into a war that has been raging for centuries.

There is no prophecy. His coming was not foretold.

He bleeds like any man, and bleed he will.

My Non-spoiler Review

As you can imagine from that synopsis I was both excited and intrigued to get stuck into this book. The concept sounds awesome the conflict epic, and to top it all off there is talk of a dragonguard…enough said in my opinion.

Firstly I just want to congratulate Ryan on being able to hook me in so quickly. Immediately I felt immersed in this world. I was intrigued, I wanted to know more, to learn more about the history, the customs, the creatures and the stories behind the legends. I could really feel the Norse influence in this book which as you know I am always a massive fan of in books.

The journey really starts out with Calen and his two best friends as they are undertaking the Proving – a challenge/ test in which they go out into the Olm forest and return 2 days later. This forest is full of bad things with claws and the boys are immediately caught up in danger after danger after danger before they make their way out. Upon returning they are considered boys no more, and are now men. As men they travel to a trading town only to get themselves wrapped up in a whirlwind of chaos that changes their lives forever.

With Calen at the centre, we embark on a journey of hope, and resistance against the empire who have repressed many across Epheria and tried to wipe out most other races including the giants and dwarves and elves. Along the way many things go awry, and Calen must decide if he can continue.

We also get small snippets of pov from others, I will not mention who exactly so as not to spoil anything, but it is there, and definitely adds to the tension building throughout the story.

I will admit I found the pacing on the slower side for this story, but I am very accustomed to this within new fantasy series. As you all know if you have read fantasy books, the first is setting up for the subsequent books in the series, and Ryan did this beautifully. I was not at all bored, I at no point felt like putting it down, and the plot moved forward with enough to keep me guessing the entire time. I would perhaps like to have seen more of Calen’s inner conflicts about the tragedies that befell him during the book, but that is a preference that not everyone would feel necessary, and to be completely honest there is ample excuse for why this isn’t explored too much in detail (primarily the forward moving plot, the training, the constant need for Calen to focus on the present).

That aside, I honestly enjoyed this story a lot, I enjoyed the creatures, the world, the history, and the characters. I enjoyed the banter between the young men (especially Dann – who made me laugh on more than one occasion – especially telling the dragon to f*ck off at one point). I will definitely be reading the next book, and cannot wait for it!

I really hope that some of you reading this review pick it up, because I believe Ryan is off to an excellent start with this series and it would be a shame if any of you were to miss it!

Let me know in the comments if you have read this one or if it sounds like something you will pick up.

Until next time.

Steel & Stone by Kate Haley | Blog Tour

Hey Beautifuls, guess who is back with another review! Today is my stop on the Storytellers on Tour blog tour for Steel & Stone by Kate Haley! This blog tour is just getting started so I’ll link the original post for you to have a look at! Massive thank you to both Storytellers on Tour and Kate Haley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book, I am so thankful for the privilege.

You should all know by now that my warriors heart loves a good weapon on the cover of a book. It is an automatic attention grabber for me without fail, and so you know I’m a happy fantasy nerd right now! Right onto the details you want to know!

Synopsis:

Ten years. Thousands dead. No memories.

The amnesia was supposed to be a good thing. Other soldiers bask in its freedom. Except for Elvac it doesn’t feel right. When he returns from his first year at war he can’t shake the niggling sensation that something is missing. His life has been turned upside down, yet he can’t remember being gone. The only proof of his time away are the scars, and the haunting dreams of fire.
With the help of his friends, Elvac begins to regain his lost memories, and with them uncover the truth of his missing year, and what the Church of Sunne is really doing with their War of the North…

My Review:

I’m going to start at the very beginning…the setting. This. Book. Delivers. On. Setting. 100%. I felt immersed from the first moment! From the first chapter I was really able to get a sense of the place and the people which I really enjoyed and felt was excellently done. There were moments in the beginning where I wanted a little bit more information, a little more history, but ultimately that was because I wanted all the details! I felt the author did a really good job of creating a sense of mystery, a sense of ‘what is going on’ to leave me on the edge of my seat wondering where things were going or where they would end up.

There is a lot of moments that made me smile, light hearted moments, or cheeky moments that really helped alleviate the tension….because boy oh boy were the stakes high in this novel.

Having been in the military myself I really love reading about military warrior types that go on to question the orders given to them and who uncover hidden agendas and POLITICS!! I just love it, and really enjoyed this book for that reason…amongst others.

My only critique would be that sometimes the change in scene was unexpected and left me feeling a little pulled out of the book, this was few and far between, so didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

Honestly, I refuse to give anything away, if you love a high stakes, epic fantasy, with great characters and secret plots then give this one a go, I’m sure you wont be disappointed, and as for me? I cant wait to read what comes next!

A Ritual of Bone by Lee C Conley | Blog Tour

Hey Beautifuls! Today is my stop on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for A Ritual of Bone by Lee C Conley! I am so thankful to the awesome team at Storytellers on Tour who do an awesome job of getting indie authors some limelight! I am also thankful to Lee C Conley himself for sending me a copy of this book…I cannot tell you how grateful I am! If you haven’t already checked out this tour on the Storyteller on Tour blog, I will link it here for you to check them out, and check out the others who are participating in the tour!

A Ritual of Bone (The Dead Sagas Book 1) by [Lee C Conley]
You can find and purchase this beauty here!

I need to take a minute to appreciate how beautiful this cover is because Damn! its pretty! Now, anyone who knows me, knows that putting a weapon…more importantly an axe on a cover is a sure way to get me to pick it up so this cover is winning on that detail alone! In all honesty I love the use of cool tones and the darker composition it screams all that dark fantasy vibes I live for! Let get to the content…

Synopsis –

‘Only valour and steel can stand against the rising dead’

Arnar is a land of warriors, its people as stalwart as the stones themselves. In a land of dark forests and ancient hill forts, a forgotten evil is awoken by curious minds.
The Great Histories and the Sagas say nothing of this evil, long passed from the memory of even the studious scholars of the College. For centuries, the scholars of Arnar have kept these records and preserved the knowledge and great deeds of a proud people. The story of these peoples forever chronicled in the Sagas of the Great Histories.
But now the evil spreads and the dead walk in its wake, terrible creatures roam the night and even the spirits are restless. The Dead Sagas could perhaps be the final chapters of these great records.
Many threads entwine to tell this Saga, interweaving the tales of those who played their part in the search for answers and ultimately their fight for survival. Amid plague, invasion and terror, the inexorable rise of the dead sends a kingdom scrabbling to its knees.

This dark fantasy epic combines dark malign horror and gritty survival adventure as the Dead Sagas unfold in a world where honour and renown is all, where beasts and savages lurk in the wilderness, and where sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.

My Review –

Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Grimdark fantasies. I know grimdark isn’t for everyone but I personally am a fan. Now, with that out the way, if you happen to be like me and enjoy a good ole bit of dark grittiness (Yeah I’m not sure if that is a word either) in your fantasy then you won’t be disappointed here. A ritual of bone is very atmospheric from the moment you step into this world.

I should also mention that no matter how many books have that whole ‘evil that rises’ trope…ima fall for that every time because to me there is nothing boring about the rising darkness! I loved the setting and the way that Lee C Conley integrated the undead into the story – which for the record I am totally here for some undead craziness!

We got different perspectives in this story which really helped showcase the different lives they led, and how each of them was effected by the evil, and undead rising again. A ritual of bone was well written and well developed, it kept me engaged and eager to see where the story would go, and overall I think it was a really good start to the series; A Ritual of Flesh is now out for those of you who want to dive into books 1 & 2!

It was the best time of the year to read this one for me because it gave me creepy and dark vibes that gets me right in the mood for spooky season! There was atmosphere, action, darkness, and a heft of gore to keep me engaged, excited, and wanting more. I cannot wait to see how things develop in book 2 and I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy grimdark, books with dark undead things, and readers who aren’t afraid to feel a little unsettled or spooked!

There you have it beautifuls! My review of A Ritual of Bone by Lee C Conley! I really hope that some of you will pick this one up and give it a chance because it was a very good start in what I’m sure will be a great new series to the grimdark fantasy genre!

As always leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts. Have you read this one? Are you thinking of picking it up? Let me know!

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco | Blog Tour

Hey Beautifuls, today is my stop on the Blog tour for Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco! I am so thankful to the team at Terminal Tours, and to the Publisher for allowing me to review this ahead of publication; and of course giving me the opportunity to help build up some noise about this fabulous book. Do be sure to check out the other stops on this tour, which you can find the list here.

Now whilst I could argue the cover is beautiful enough to buy this book alone, I am fully in love with the content and want to share with you the synopsis so that you can be as intrigued as I was before I got my reader greedy hands on it.

Synopsis –

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of woman’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

My Review –

Honestly, even now I am still shook about this book. It is so difficult to form words about it when I am so desperately reliving every moment and trying to deal with the fact I now have to wait for the next instalment – let me just tell you now, that’s going to be on hell of a impatient wait. Let’s start with the setting, because I really want to talk about how much I enjoyed the wholesome feel of this Silician island complete with the sights and smells that you can literally feel yourself being wrapped in and wishing you could be there to taste and breath it all in too. I loved that Emilia’s family had a business in the form of a restaurant, it really played into the setting and gave it more depth in my opinion.

I love a book that has magic and myths all combined in one, and Kingdom of the Wicked did not disappoint me in this regard. Emelia’s Nonna is always telling tales of why the girls need to behave and why they shouldn’t do this, that, and the other. I loved her, and whilst reading actually made a note that reads ‘Everyone should have a Nona in their life’. She was a character that played the role of the overbearing grandparent with a life full of secrets well, and I loved her for it.

Emilia was a really great main character, and I really appreciated her confidence, her rage, and her ability to take serious steps despite it probably being a little risky at times. I found her character easy to relate to, and I really liked that Kerri Maniscalco didn’t shy away from the grim changes that grief wrought on Emelia as a person. Grief has the power to change us all and Emelia is a very literal representation of that.

The Wicked were one of my favourite parts of this story; meeting them, trying to figure out their angle and motives. It all added to the stakes and excitement of reading this story. There were moments when I didn’t know who to trust, who wanted what, and the why…forever trying to figure out the real why of the story was so fun.

Kingdom of the Wicked is evocative, deeply sinful, and and absolute joy to read. I highly recommend it, and hope that if you do choose to pick it up, you will find it as great as I did.

For those of you who are planning on picking this one up, I would like to mention the pre-order incentives. This is for US, but for those who are international you can order from Premiere Collectables. Pre-order ends Oct 26th 2020. Here is the preorder link for those who need it.

What you recieve:

  • Enamel Pin
  • Signed Bookplate
  • One Pair of Oracle Cards

So there you have it, my thoughts of Kingdom of the Wicked – of you hadn’t already guessed, I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read the next book! Please sign me up for the next one because I don’t know I can go without the answers I need!

Thanks for reading lovelies. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time.

The Skald’s Black Verse | Blog Tour

Hey All, today is my stop with Storytellers on Tour for the blog tour of The Skald’s Black Verse by Jordan Loyal Short! A link to the Storytellers on Tour post with details of the tour and the other stops can be found here. Please check the others out as well and show support for this book!

  • Title: The Skald’s Black Verse
  • Author: Jordan Loyal Short
  • Genre: Adult Fantasy
  • Paperback: 339
  • Rating: 4 *

Synopsis

When a soldier’s murder sparks rebellion in the tiny village of Skolja, Brohr’s past marks him as the prime suspect. Haunted by his brother’s ghost, and drawn in to a web of dark pacts and tangled loyalties, Brohr must choose between the path of vengeance set before him, and a chance to forge his own fate. From the shadows, an all but extinct race of alien demigods have begun the end game of their millennia-spanning war, and one has chosen Brohr for his closing gambit. But Brohr’s grandfather harbors a dark secret that will change everything. Above it all, a dread portent looms in the sky, spelling the death of Brohr’s world. With doom spiraling toward them, Brohr must lead an unlikely rebellion, unearth disturbing family secrets, and tame the raging ghost that haunts him. Can Brohr lead his people out of darkness, or will he succumb to his own terrifying bloodlust, and destroy the very people he has sworn to save?

My Review

I went into this novel expecting Norse themed fantasy, something I enjoy a lot…what I got was that and so much more! The Skald’s Black Verse starts out with a nitty gritty scene that really does well to set the tone and expectations of the novel. We follow multiple POV’s but Brohr is the main one we really stick to.

Okay, so let’s talk about the things I liked in this story. Firstly, can we just take a moment to appreciate that Jordan Loyal Short threw me a loop when he set me up for Norse vibes and then caught me completely off guard with the insane flying ship thing…it was all very unexpected, and quite frankly a great twist to what I assumed would be another classic Norse type tale. Jordan Loyal Short was able to take a story, infuse it with all the heart and bloodthirst of the Norse Pantheon whilst also showcasing a new dynamic way to infuse the story with colliding planets, inter-planetary spaceships, and interesting cultures. This story was filled with explosive action, dark creatures, awesome magic, and a rise against repression.

The only thing that had me mark it down was that it took me a while to settle into the writing style initially, but this is more a preference than any reflection on the book itself, which is why I have still rated it so high.

Make no mistake people, this story has plenty going on to keep you entertained, and definitely some darker moments to make you squirm. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you are a fan of adult fantasy that isn’t shy about expressing its darker themes.

There you have it beautifuls, I really hope you enjoyed my stop on this blog tour, and I really hope that some of you consider picking this one up to support Jordan Loyal Short. It was book that took me on a journey I wasn’t expecting and was worth the ride.

Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt Review

Hey beautifuls, I am back with a brand new review, and today it is all centered around the beauty that is Northern Wrath. This book was sent to me by the publisher -Rebellion Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. I would like to stress that I requested this book, the publisher did not approach me for this one! I saw this arc, saw that stunning cover, read the synopsis and immediately knew it was a ‘Steff’ book. Anyway…on to the review!

  • Title: Northern Wrath
  • Author: Thilde Kold Holdt
  • Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
  • Paperback: 644 pages
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • My Rating: 4.5*

Synopsis – Taken from Amazon

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods. A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim. A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

My Review

Northern Wrath is an epic tale steeped in authentic Norse mythology. Filled with epic battles, strong characters, and set backs at every turn we follow different characters who are all tied together by fate. Their lives, the lives of the Gods and the whole of Midgard hang in the balance.

When I say I am Norse mythology mad…I mean it! I have read so many books on the history of the folk tales, so many books adapted from the myths – I just love it, and this book blew me away. It gave me all the bloodshed and glory worthy of Valhalla, all the strong characters overcoming their setbacks and dealing with their flaws. It gave me warrior vibes strong enough to make me wish I could wield a damn axe. It was everything I wanted.

This story explores the threat of Muspelhiem (one of the nine realms filled with fire). The threat of Muspelhiem’s demons breaking free and wrecking havoc on Midgard, and ultimately bringing around Ragnorok. If you love the Norse Pantheon then you will love this book, there really is no two ways about it. We have gritty flawed characters and strong females, we have betrayals and deceit that will leave you reeling. More than the epic battles and bravery, this book made me laugh. There were moments of banter and comradery that was just so authentic, you could tell Thilde was drawing upon her own friendships.

I always love seeing strong female characters in books, and Northern Wrath delivered this in abundance; from our unexperienced Tyra who refused to let fear rule her from the very first moment, to Hilda who raged and fought despite all that was taken from her, and all that she had to do.

This book keeps you guessing, this book keeps you engaged and I highly recommend this epic tale to those of you who love fantasy and Norse mythology rolled into a gritty and perilous journey.

There you have it lovelies, my review for Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt. I tried to keep it as spoiler free as possible, because 1. it doesn’t release until the end of October and 2. because this is a journey that you need to experience for yourself. Go in knowing little to nothing and you will feel the full benefit of this story. I really hope you decide to add this to your tbr because this author deserves so much love for this book, and I cannot wait for book two. If this sounds like it’s right up your street please leave a comment and let me know. If you are one of the lucky ones like myself to have received this beautiful arc then please let me know if you’ve read it yet, and what your thoughts were. As always, thanks for reading this review.

The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood Review

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! I’m back with a review of this fabulous book by A. K. Larkwood. I was lucky enough to be gifted this beautiful book by the publishers over at Tor, and I cannot thank them enough, but please note that this was in exchange for an honest review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Anyway lets get talking about this book!

You can preorder The Unspoken Name here for its release on 20 Feb 2020
  • Title: The Unspoken Name
  • Author: A. K. Larkwood
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Hardback: 464 pages
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • My Rating: 4 *

Synopsisfrom Amazon

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does–she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin–the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn–gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

My Review

The Unspoken Name is a story that begins with Csorwe, a young orc priestess who is destined to be sacrificed to her God when she comes of age. She has known this for a long time and yet when she is given the opportunity to flee with mage Belthandros Sethennai she dives at the chance and finds herself journeying places she never dreamed of and completing life risking tasks to acheive Sethennai’s goal of obtaining the Reliquary. A object which contains immeasurable knowledge.

What to say about the Unspoken Name?
Its majestical start to a new epic fantasy series, and I really enjoyed this book! The.world.building! I say again the world building: this world is one that terrifies and yet entices me all at the same time! Csorwe’s journey was so beautiful to read and her desire to suceed was so tangible. The things she went through to carry out her task, the consequences of these tasks – it was all so epic. I truly appreciated the lack of fear A. K. Larkwood had when writing Csorwe’s journey. She was not in a glass box; an untouchable figure within the story – there was blood sweat and tears, and this truly made the consequences feel more real.

This book explores the complex nature of decisions made in fleeting moments; moments where doubt settles in and then it explores the consequences of those actions and how one is expected to deal with those consequences. It brings into question how far is someone willing to go, how much are they willing to sacrifice, and is it worth it?

The writing in this book is well executed, however I will say that at times I did feel entirely detached from the emotionally aspect of the characters journey. There were events that happened that would have warrented a stronger emotional response from me as the reader, and unfortunately I didn’t always respond in a way befitting the storyline. I’m not entirely sure why that was the case, but that is the main reason this book is a 4 star for me instead of a 5. Either way, I am very confident I will continue on with this series. The world itself is truly fascinating and the different species within it. I love the aspect of different gods for different lands; it definitely captured my attention, and I cannot wait to continue with this series.

I definitely recommend this book for those fantasy lovers out there. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that this book has some LGTBQ+ rep *Grins excitedly*. Which I am always rooting for in fantasy…this genre needs more of it in my opinion.

Hope you enjoyed this review beautifuls, and I really hope you decide to pick up The Unspoken Name when it releases in February. I think it’s going to be a popular one in the community, and I am definitely 100% privileged to have been given an early copy (Thanks again Tor). If you plan to pick it up please let me know in the comments below, and if you have already read this arc then please hit me up in the comments with your opinions. I’d be fascinated to know your thoughts.

Knight of the Silver Circle by Duncan M. Hamilton Review

As promised here is my review of the sequel to Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton. I would just like to quickly give thanks to the lovely people at Tor who gifted me a finished copy of this book for review – I am so grateful to them for giving me awesome books to review!

You can find it here!
  • Title: Knight of the Silver Circle
  • Author: Duncan M. Hamilton
  • Hardback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • My Rating: 4*

SynopsisFrom Amazon

Dragons have returned after a thousand years, but greater dangers lurk in the shadows…

As the lines between enemy and ally blur, Guillot dal Villerauvais is drawn farther into the life and service he had left far behind. Solène attempts to come to terms with the great magical talent she fears is as much a curse as a blessing, while the Prince Bishop’s quest for power twists and turns, and takes on a life of its own.

With dragons to slay, and an enemy whose grip on the kingdom grows ever tighter, Gill and his comrades must fight to remain true to themselves, while standing at the precipice of a kingdom in peril.

My Review

Firstly, since this is the second book in what is to be a trilogy I will be making this as non-spoiler as I can, and secondly here is the link to my review of book one if you missed it.

Now, let me start by saying that this picks up from where it left off at the end of book one and only ramps up the excitement. We still follow Guillot as he tries to find the knight within himself that he once was, but we also see a lot more maneuvering and power plays from certain characters. I of course loved the appearance of the dragons in this book – we got a whole new side to them that was exciting and I was really happy with that. Further development was given to the magic system and quite honestly I loved it.

I will say that there were certain things that came into play which were kind of left a little unresolved in my opinion and I hope that is something that is handled in the final book. As I mentioned in my review of Dragonslayer Duncan M. Hamilton likes his cliff hangers and he left me on that cliff again! This time its not fun because I don’t have the next book to go straight onto. However, that cliff has left me wanting more, and wanting desperately to find out what happens in the next installment of this story.

I can’t wait for it! Who will prevail? What will happen? I am very keen to know, and hope I’ll get the answers soon.

If you have read or want to start these books, please let me know in the comments. I love hearing your opinions!