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!

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.

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.

Dragonslayer by Duncan M Hamilton Review

Hey beautifuls, long time no speak! I am a antisocial mess at the minute, can’t even lie about it. I’m downright terrible, but since i’ve been too ill to film for booktube (flu and such) – I thought i would give you all some reviews of the recent reads. Today I’m reviewing Dragonslayer…a book I was really exciting about reading and can’t wait to share with you, and tomorrow…the sequel. Anyway lets do this.

Dragonslayer (The Dragonslayer Book 1) by [Hamilton, Duncan M.]
You can find your copy here on Amazon.
  • Title: Dragonslayer
  • Author: Duncan M. Hamilton
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • My Rating: 4*

Synopsis From Amazon

With the dragons believed dead, the kingdom had no more need for dragonslayers.

Drunk, disgraced, and all but forgotten, Guillot has long since left his days of heroism behind him.

As forgotten places are disturbed in the quest for power, and things long dormant awaken, the kingdom finds itself in need of a dragonslayer once again, and Guillot is the only one left…

My Review

The synopsis doesn’t give much away; the bare bones and that’s it, but given that this is a fantasy of only 304 pages I think the synopsis does the job well.

I really enjoyed this book – yes it may have something to do with the dragons, but in all honesty I fell hard for the characters I was rooting for, the villians I wanted squashed and the world itself. The magic system is a simple one to understand, and is placed in a world where those with magic are burnt at the stake for witchcraft. We are drawn into a power struggle and political maneuverings virtually from the beginning, and that is something I always enjoy reading about. Guillot was a character I wanted to succeed – he gave me all my favourite ‘old man warrior’ vibes, and I am always a fan of these types of characters. The story was a little on the short side, but what was there was attention grabbing and hard to put down. I will say that if you plan to read this have the second book to hand because Duncan M. Hamilton likes his cliff hangers (luckily I had the second to go straight onto).

This story is a fun, action packed and an easy binge read. If you like dragons, and you like old warrior ‘call to action’ books then definitely give this one a go.

If you do read this, or if you have already please hit me up in the comments below with your thoughts. I’d love to know what you think!

The Necromancer’s Prison by Alec Whitesell and Craig Bonacorsi Review

Hey Beautifuls, I’m back with a new review for you all! This book was kindly gifted to me by one of the authors in exchange for an honest review, and here comes the time to share my thoughts with you all.

You can find it here on Amazon.
  • Title: The Necromancer’s Prison – Bluewater Grover series Book 1
  • Author: Alec Whitesell and Craig Bonacorsi
  • Paperback: 313
  • Publisher: Independantly published
  • Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy
  • My Rating: 3*

Synopsis – From Amazon

She wanted to find her place in the universe. She never imagined it might not be on Earth.When Emily Murphy over slept the morning of her college entrance exam, she thought missing her test was the worst thing that could happen. She never expected she would wind up lost halfway across the galaxy, battling aliens with laser guns and mages hurling lightning.Like most seventeen year olds, Emily’s main concern had been navigating the perils of high school, not surviving shootouts and sorcery. That changed when her school was attacked and a student was kidnapped. While everyone else smartly fled from danger, she recklessly ran toward it mounting an impossible rescue that would lead her on a journey unlike anything she could have imagined.Dropped into a strange world teeming with merciless criminals and ruthless aristocrats, surrounded by violence and betrayal, Emily must untangle a web of intrigue and deceit to solve the mystery behind the abduction, save her classmate, and discover the destiny which awaits her.It is either that, or die trying…

My Review

This book isn’t what I normally gravitate towards, but I have to say when the author contacted me the synopsis sounded so cool I had to give it a go. We follow our main girl Emily on the day of her college entrance exam, and quite honestly it takes off quickly from there. Which I really appreciated. Emily is brave and fierce and passionate, all things that gives for a combination to root for in a protagonist. We are straight away swept into a world of magic wielding bad guys, and portals to other planets. I have to say when Emily (and her tag along friend Mason) slip through the first portal it was giving me such “Nightmare before Christmas” vibes…because of the doors. I loved that.

Things I felt were done well in this book was pacing. I never felt like the book was dragging, there was always some kind of predicament or action going on that was enough to keep me reading. I really enjoyed Quinn’s character, she is the reason Emily dives head first into the chaos, she was really resourceful, and practical minded which was really nice to see in a YA book. It’s no secret that I don’t often enjoy female characters who are annoying helpless and useless, but Quinn even when in the most difficult and tight spots was still practical and focus on her goals; something I really appreciated.

The reason my rating isn’t higher is that the writing style wasn’t suited to me all that well. Whilst I can appreciate it, I personally felt drawn away from the story on multiple occasions. I also felt that whilst some of my small niggle type questions were eventually answered, I felt it perhaps would have been better covering them earlier, so that for a large portion of the novel I wasn’t thinking “but how can that be, and what about that?”. I also wasn’t a fan of the relationship that was developing between Emily and Mason, it didn’t feel natural to me and I could have done without it.

That being said, this book is fast paced, action packed, and well put together. It was definitely a fun and intriguing start to a new series in the space opera genre.

If you would like more specific spoiler content, this review will be posted with added extra’s to my Goodreads which you can find here.

The Gems of Elsana: Into the Wildbarrens by Christian Sterling Review

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! I know, I know I’m the worst person on social media these days! I have been absent so much lately, but I’m back with a review for you all!

Anyway lets get started…

Into the Wildbarrens (The Gems of Elsana Book 1) by [Sterling, Christian]
  • Title: Into the Wildbarrens (The Gems of Elsana Book 1)
  • Author: Christian Sterling
  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Indie published
  • Genre: Fantasy Adventure
  • My Rating: 3*

Synopsis – From Amazon

EVERYONE’S FAVORITE WIZARD, BEFORE THE BEARD.

We know him well. Ever-flowing wisdom. Concealed power. A white beard and a proclivity for mentoring chosen ones. 

In so many tales, we find ourselves enamored with a kindly wizard guiding our protagonist, curious to his roots, source of power, and hidden knowledge. This is that wizard’s story.

Falin is only twenty years of age, and with nine-hundred eighty years left to explore the world, he is eager to begin his quest for the Gems of Elsana, four jewels that provide wizards with their full power. Accompanied by four Champions, Falin considers himself lucky, joined by a sage healer, elven assassin, drakkish warrior, and madorian prince. 

All seems well until the elder wizards reveal they expect Falin’s quest will take them into the Wildbarrens, a desolate and horrid land teeming with creatures of the Dark. Given the circumstances—and to the chagrin of Falin’s honorable Champions—the group is accompanied by an unscrupulous pair of outlaws claimed to have traveled through the Wildbarrens.

In this feel-good fiction, we are cast into a world brimming with our favorite elements of fantasy with new twists unlike anything we’ve read before. Christian Sterling has cultivated the start of a series with unparalleled charm, action, humor, romance, and thrills. All ages will be sure to enjoy this story from its first magical pages, to its last.

My Review

I was given this book by the author in exchange for my honest review here, and so I’m just gonna be 100% transparent and let you all know that before I get into things. This absolutely has no bearing on my review…all opinions are my own.

So, when I was first approached about this book it sounded like something new, fun and such a different take on the old wise one trope, which I love. I loved the different races and the takes on them. I especially loved the Draks – they were such a cool take on something we see saturating the market in the last decade or so!

I really like the idea of the world, and the way it was so divided into different segments and different people. And I also found that the plot line often gave me ‘classic fantasy’ vibes. It was clear to me whilst reading that the author himself is a fan of classic fantasy, and that by writing this he wanted to take classic fantasy and spin it on its’ head.

However, and there is unfortunately a however, I also found that the writing itself seemed a little less than natural at times. The dialogue for one didn’t seem to flow at times, and I often found myself transported back to the type classic fantasy that showcased characters who didn’t quite feel real or believable for that matter.

Sadly I also have to say that I found things to be a little too predictable, a little too convenient, and sometimes I felt there were character inconsistencies.

I really don’t have an awful lot to say on this book if I’m honest. I feel the premise had great potential but the execution let it down a little.

Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh Review!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! So sorry I haven’t been around lately, but today I’ll be sharing my views on this arc I read recently. Buckle up booknerds

  • Title: Daughter of Kali: Awakening
  • Author: Shiulie Ghosh
  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Peach Publishing (1 Jun. 2018)
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • ISBN-10: 1780363710
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780363714
  • My Rating: 3*

SynopsisFrom Amazon

We all have our demons. Kaz Deva aches to fit in and be normal. But with the unnerving ability to see things that others can’t, ‘normal’ is not an option. After a shocking confrontation with evil, Kaz is drawn into a dangerous world of myth and magic. An ancient Guild of Warriors fights to keep demons at bay, her mother is harbouring a dark secret, and a Hindu goddess is haunting her dreams. Everything she thought she knew is a lie, except her feelings for a boy she can never have. As Kaz learns the truth of who she is and where she comes from, something awakens inside her; something cold and ruthless. With the battle between Warriors and demons becoming ever more deadly, Kaz must find a way to survive her destiny and control her supernatural powers before it’s too late.

My ReviewSPOILER WARNING!!

Firstly let me say this was an arc from netgalley, but I picked up this book because I was really interested to see how hinduism played a part in the story. In my opinion it’s not something we see often in YA.

You will have noticed that I only gave this a 3* and here’s why:

Whilst I was over the moon about the diverse rep of the main character her strange character behaviours were too much for me to overlook. Firstly we get the immediate angle of ‘mother and daughter don’t get on’ – to the point that the daughter is outright rude A LOT, but we have no real indication of why that is. Oh but she does like to mock her mothers indian food, and her mother’s love for the Gods etc, which I found odd considering I was excited to see some hindu rep!

There wasn’t a whole lot of reasons behind the strange resentment Kaz had for her mother…at least in the start anyway, and it bothered me that she was outright mocking her mothers way of life, and at one point even claimed the incense and statues of the Gods had embarassed her!

Another thing that annoyed me was the forbidden love trope. Whilst I confess to enjoying a forbidden love story when done well, I just couldn’t get on board. If you have read this you may be thinking “Why Steff? Because it makes her a terrible best friend to like the guy?” No, my darling readers, that is not my issue. My issue lies in the fact that Kaz, and her best friend are 15. The Love interest is 18, and someone who was brought up as trained warrior…

Let’s just think about that for a second. Now whilst in the UK the legal sex age is 16, I still don’t find it appealing to read about an 18 year old guy lusting after a 15 year old…it’s weird, and quite frankly I just can’t! As for him being trained as a warrior from a young age, I just can’t see how that would at all fit in well with two girls who are in high school. Am I insane, or are they just leaps and bounds apart.

It gave me shadowhunter vibes a little, with the whole ‘demon hunters’ thing and a whole guild of people who govern them and their training.

Another thing that I didn’t particularly like, yes another, was that Kaz (aged 15) was a normal kids then her mum SPOILER got kidnapped by a demon and all of a sudden she is commanding all the people in one of the safe house/ bases for the demon hunters. Like what….ACTUALLY WHAT!!! ARRGGHHH! How on earth can you expect me to believe, a 15 year old with no experience, in comand/ management and who has only just found out demons are real can suddenly flip a switch and start commanding other who are many years her senior and have been doing this basically their whole lives…uh uh! No sorry you lost me!

Whilst this has become a rant, I do think that the way the demons where portrayed was different, and I was intrigued by the whole Kali twist in there, so that was fun, but I’m afraid overall I can’t say it left me feeling like I has just read a great book…the more I think about it the more it annoys me.

So that’s it, my rant…I mean review for Daughter of Kali: Awakening! Please let me know in the comments below if you have read this, it would be super interesting to know what other peoples opinions are on it.

A Pack of Vows and Tears by Olivia Wildenstein arc Review

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! I am so excited to tell you all about this beautiful arc I received. This is the second book in The Boulder Wolves triology, and I had the privilege to get the arc of the first on netgalley a while back.

The second (and the book I am reviewing today) I recieved from the lovely Olivia Wildestien herself. Please note that although I recieved this arc for free all my opinions are, as always, my own, and I have not been paid at all for this review.

A Pack of Vows and Tears (The Boulder Wolves Book 2) by [Wildenstein, Olivia]
You can find your copy here!
  • Title: A Pack of Vows and Tears
  • Author: Olivia Wildestien
  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Twig Publishing (28 May 2019)
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy/ PNR
  • ISBN-10:  1948463172
  • ISBN-13:  978-1948463171
  • My Rating: 4*

SynopsisFrom Amazon

She thought the fight was over but it was only just beginning.

Ness Clark’s place amongst the Boulders and at Liam’s side is compromised. First, when her cousin claims Ness helped him elude his death sentence. And then, when August Watt, Ness’s childhood friend, comes home to Boulder.

Although August’s plan was to pledge himself and return to active duty, he finds himself incapable of leaving. This becomes problematic for Liam and Ness, because a mating link has clicked into place between Ness and the ex-marine. If not consumed, the link will fade, but that’ll take months. How long and hard can two people fight a physical attraction that renders their bodies unreceptive to anyone’s but their mates?

Ness is tired of fighting, tired of having to prove herself worthy of her pack’s trust and of her Alpha’s affection. But when an enemy pack arrives and threatens the Boulders, she has two choices: step aside and let the wolves who have pushed her away fend for themselves, or step up and help them fight the newcomers.

Ness has never stepped aside…not for anyone.

Why would she start now?

My Review

As this book is a sequel I kind of knew what to expect. Not in terms of plot of course but in terms of setting and characters etc. I had my fave characters, I had characters I was less keen on. That being said, Olivia Wildenstien has this ability to take me on a wild ride, and turn my emotions completely on their head!

There were twists I didn’t see coming, a few actually, and I read this book in record time. I’m a sucker for the romance in this story and can’t tell you how much I’m rooting for the ship. The annoying thing is how quickly Olivia can make you change your mind about someone you thought you liked! I went into this book thinking I liked a character, and it turns out I really don’t after reading this.

What I really appreciate about these books is that Ness, our main character, is strong, independent, and has known much heartache and personal tragedy. It’s one of the reasons we root for her so much in these books. She is strong yet vulnerable, and whilst she always bounces back we get to see the strife she endures.

It’s hard to review this book because all I want to do is scream about the spoilers. I just want to chat until the cows come home about what happened and how I feel! I really enjoy these books. They always get devoured within hours, and quite honestly I find it cruel I have to wait for the next one…not fair at all.

Immediately after reading this I messaged Olivia and told her about my angst and she just laughed, saying she had done her job.

These books are definitely worth a read if you like romance shifter stories. I should add that I normally never read shifter stories but for this series I make an exception.

If you are interested I suggest taking a look at book one – A Pack of Blood and Lies:

Find it Here!

Synopsis

The primal rule of winning: don’t fall in love with the contender. 

Three months shy of her eighteenth birthday, Ness is forced to return to Colorado. Even though it’s been six years, and the wolves of her all-male pack don’t recognize her, she recognizes them. People who shun others because of their gender are hard to forget.

Especially Liam Kolane–son of Heath, the crudest and cruelest Alpha to have ruled the Boulder Pack. Liam is as handsome as he is infuriating, as kind as he is punishing, and he makes Ness’s traitorous heart race, which isn’t good. After all, he’s a Kolane. Like father like son, right?

When Heath dies, Liam vies to become the new Alpha and no one dares challenge him. 

Except Ness. 

Thus begins a treacherous game. 

The rules: winner takes all…including loser’s life.

Have you read any of these books? If yes…we should chat! If not, then you really should give it a go if it sounds like your cup of tea. Let me know in the comments below!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers Review!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers!! As promised I am finally posting another review! I plan to catch up with my review posts as there are so many books I want to talk to you all about! So hopefully I should be able to get back to posting one a week or thereabouts.

You can find it here on Amazon!
  • Title: Grave Mercy
  • Author: Robin LaFevers
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen Press (3 Jan. 2019)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • ISBN-10: 1783448237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783448234
  • My Rating: 4*

Synopsisfrom Amazon

Young, beautiful and deadly.

Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself underprepared – not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

A dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and finding one’s path

My Review

This book had been sat on my shelf for a while…neglected, and I honestly can’t remember why I picked it up; I just felt drawn to it that day, but I’m so so glad I did!

First of all I did not expect some of the hard hitting issues that come into this book, and in fact the series. As a woman, these books make me feel empowered – despite the terrible things these female characters go through they manage to bring themselves back into a state of control. One where they don’t need to feel afraid anymore! It was really refreshing to read a story where the main character wasn’t this perfect girl devoid of any tragedy and having read the next book – I believe this is a theme of these books.

I loved the beautiful historical fiction feel this book gave me. It is definitely fantasy as there are gods and magic to get behind but there is this tragic tortured past of France that leaves us feeling this tale could entirely be true in the most wonderful sense (probably has something to do with the fact I’m a dreamer, but aren’t all book lovers?). I liked reading about the political games being played, the worry over a warring country, and the general intrigue.

I loved the characters, their flaws, and the relationships that developed – particularly the enemies to lovers trope that cropped it. It was a book I didn’t want to put down, and made me immediately want to jump into the next one (which I did).

I love how Robin LaFevers manages to capture the self-doubt of her characters, and then follow through with the release of that doubt. You truly get to journey with them from the very beginning to a transformation of self, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story.

You may be wondering why I’m being so vague on plot etc, but as is my way…I honestly think you will benefit from knowing little when going into this story. If the synopsis sounds like something you’re interested in then by all means pick it up and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Have you read this book? The series? What were your thoughts? Or perhaps it’s on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below!

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller Review

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! The book in the spotlight today is the awesome Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller!!

I have to say I’m a sucker for a warrior themed book! I just adore the whole shield maiden vibe, and when it’s done well always leaves me feeling empowered!


You can buy your copy here from Amazon!
  • Title: Warrior of the Wild
  • Author: Tricia Levenseller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (1 Mar. 2019)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • ISBN-10: 1250189942
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250189943
  • My Rating: 4.5*

Synopsis – From Amazon

Eighteen-year-old Rasmira has always been both praised and scorned for her talents. As her father’s chosen heir, she has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village.

Fortunately, her long wait is almost over and after she passes her coming-of age trial, she’ll finally be able to live on her own and not have to deal with her mother’s constant rejection or the jealousy of her peers. Perhaps then she will be able to be both a warrior and a woman. But when trial day arrives, everything goes terribly wrong. Her test is sabotaged, and by law all those who fail are banished and given an impossible quest to reclaim their honor in death. And Rasmira is given the most difficult quest of them all: She must kill the oppressive deity who claims tribute from her village every year or die in the attempt.

My Review

The short version? I really loved this book. Give me female warriors, and axes any day! Tricia Levenseller is great in her ability to tell a good story in a short book.

Okay so, I loved the world, I loved the creatures, and I loved the characters.

The world was one I would happily steal into…you know, if I was a bad-ass warrior who could take down all the dangerous creatures! We follow Rasmira on her journey into banishment after she is wrongly sabotaged in her coming of age trials. What I loved about this book was Rasmira’s character arc! She really comes into herself so much throughout the 336 pages. You get to see her develop, and trust and oh my gosh, I loved it!

The creatures…honestly I really loved all the new crazy and dangerous things that roamed in the wild of this novel. I always get excited about new creatures in books, and Tricia Levenseller didn’t disappoint me!

Now, if you have read Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King duology, you may know that she is a fan of sexy romances. This book did have a romance element to it, but what I loved about it was that it did not overpower the main plot. It was there, but my attention was still firmly in place where the characters overall goals lay.

This book gave me action, teamwork, great character arcs, great world building, and amazing new creatures.

Overall, I would say pick it up if you love a good female warrior, beautiful friendships, complex family dynamic and an awesome fantasy world.

My only regret? It’s a standalone [insert – me crying into a pillow]!

Have you read this book yet? Is it on your TBR (It definitely should be Booklovers)? I’m so happy I read this book, but then again I am a massive fan of anything even loosely viking themed! Let me know what you think in the comments below!