Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Elements of Cadence
Series #: 2
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

East and West. Humans and Spirits. Breccans and Tamerlaines. The Isle of Cadence has always held itself and its residents in a tenuous balance. But now Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, has pushed everyone and everything in his path off-kilter in a bid to claim dominion over all.

In the West, Adaira struggles to adjust to the more brutal, bitter ways of life among the Breccans. Striving to find her place in the clan, she swiftly realizes that it just might be the last role she desires to hold. And while magic blooms effortlessly for the Breccans in the west, the spirits continue to suffer beneath Bane’s harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.

In the East, Jack is adrift without Adaira until he sings to the ember-weak fire spirits, acquiring a dangerous mission he never expected. One that is destined to lead him westward. Likewise, Torin and Sidra are consumed by a new mystery as sickness spreads first amongst the crops, and then to the people of the Tamerlaine clan. While Sidra desperately searches for a cure, Torin dares to strike a bargain with the spirits—a precarious folly anytime, but especially now as the days grow darker.

With the island falling further out of balance, humans and spirits alike will need to join together to face Bane, and Jack’s gift with the harp will be called upon once more. Yet no one can challenge the North Wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required this time may be more than Jack, Adaira, Torin, and Sidra can bear to pay.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book! 🙂

THIS BOOK. I cannot express any emotions. I held my hands to my chest and sobbed at one part. Rebecca Ross is such a talented writer and I can’t wait for this book to be out in the wild. I thought that this was a stunning conclusion to this series. Honestly, it made me so emotional, and I had trouble writing this review because I really don’t want to spoil this book.

Ross has some of the best writing that I’ve ever read; it is lyrical and beautiful. The descriptions are lush and beautiful. I love how she created two different atmospheres for the clans, and two different feelings depending on where you were in the mortal world or in the spirit world. And that’s all I’m going to say on that — because so much of this is best read blind. As someone who struggles to picture scenes in books, I love when authors are able to evoke feelings and emotions and make me imagine something.

I loved all the characters in this book so much, Adaira, Jack, Sidra and Torin all have their own journey in this book, and then they come together. That’s something to note — they all are separate and have individual arcs in which we’ve seen them grow as people.

I’ve been left speechless by this book, it just evoked so much emotion in me, and I loved following all the characters, I especially enjoyed Adaira’s story as she comes to terms with who she is. Torin and Sidra’s romance is just as poignant as Adaira and Jack’s, and the juxtaposition of them was done so lovely. I like how we get to see so many different facets of people. Sidra’s story is also one of my favorites, I’m just a sucker for strong women. Seriously, and while Sidra and Adaira are strong, they also have a tenderness to them. I love it.

One aspect of the book that I thought was well done was the plot, and how the present was interwoven with the past. Ross is fantastic at creating a timeline of interest, and not making it confusing. I think that the plot in this book was nicely developed and really rounded out the first book — we learn a lot more from Adaira and her mother in this book. Again, Ross is excellent at creating a fantastic world and showing how two or three places are so different from each other.

Everything ties up so nicely in the end, and I just loved this book. I really don’t know what else to say other than I’M IN LOVE.

.

Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Luminaries
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, horror
Age Group: Young Adult
ARC?: yes

Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.


Review

The Luminaries was an excellent book — I enjoyed it. This is very different than her Witchlands series. This book has a feel of horror/mystery with a mixture of paranormal/supernatural elements. It also felt a bit dystopian. Not in a bad way but I would say it had “Supernatural” vibes with the hunters aspect.

Much of the book is exactly the summary of the book, Winnie must pass the hunter trials and redeem her family. There is some mystery thrown in as well, and I enjoyed Winnie as a character. I loved how she and Jay interacted. Darian was pretty cool as well.

(Also want to point out I love that she wears glasses, and it felt so relatable with her constantly pushing them up.)

One thing I will say is that it didn’t have a lot of plot to it, it was pretty much trial, trial, trial, and then end. This definitely is more like a setup for the rest of the series. This isn’t a bad thing at all, because I’m intrigued enough to read the next book.

An aspect that I also enjoyed is that she isn’t super powerful, she doesn’t gain all these amazing skills, in some ways a bit like the anti-chosen one. Which worked very well for this book.

The atmosphere was wonderfully done. This is a book that reads very well for the fall. It kind of sucks you in. Honestly, I kept thinking back to TV shows like Teen Wolf, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries while reading this. They were all shows I loved, so I also very much enjoyed the book. Just the feeling of them…it felt like that.

The second part I had some trouble with is not necessarily the world building, but how this society actually functioned. I felt that it wasn’t totally fleshed out well enough to be understood. I’m hoping we’ll get more of that in the future, and understand more of what this world is like.

I’m excited to see what happens next for Winnie, and the mystery she must solve!

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Author: Rachel Gillig
Series:
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: adult/YA crossover
ARC?: yes

Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic.

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.

Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

ALL I NEED TO SAY IS I NEED THE NEXT ONE ASAP. AAAA IT WAS GOOD

Like what do I even say about this book??? I don’t think I have any words for it. The beginning is a little slow at first and you’re kind of scratching your head going… Is there a point to this/where is this going? BUT THEN you get to the amazingness that is the rest of the book. I just fell in love with the characters in this book, especially Elspeth and Ravyn. They’re so… Ugh. Anyways this is somewhat of an enemies to lovers kind of book but not exactly. It’s got a very gothic kind of feel to it, but it’s a darker and more atmospheric fantasy. I found it very enjoyable. It has all the vibes that I could ever love in a book. I feel like this book was made for me.

I liked how the characters interacted, and I liked their character arcs. In tone I might relate this to Allison Saft books! It also gave me For the Wolf vibes. I can’t quite put my finger on what else it felt like… But it kept me engrossed the whole way through.

The concept with the cards? SO GOOD. I loved it — obsessed with it in fact. I love the idea of Tarot, but it isn’t something I know a whole lot about, but how it was weaved in through this book? Top notch.

I don’t know why I thought this was a standalone — it isn’t — but I am extremely excited for the next book in the series.

I felt the writing in this book was amazing and I couldn’t get enough of it – the pace worked well for me. There were some funny moments thrown in amongst the more tense moments which gave a nice balance.

I loved the romance in this book. It was dreamy and done well. I wanted to smoosh them together. Ravyn’s family was also amazing, and I appreciated how this felt like a darker fairytale, perhaps a bit of a reimagined Cinderella? I quite enjoyed that. I want Ravyn’s family in fact. I need more of his family. ALL OF THEM.

The world that Gillig has created fascinated me, and I want to know more about it!

If you like dark fantasy, atmospheric fantasy, a bit of gothic horror, tarot or anything similar then this book is absolutely going to be for you!

P.S. This is probably one of my favorite books of the year and I am begging you to read it.

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Author: Adalyn Grace
Series: Belladonna
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, gothic
Age Group: YA
ARC?: yes

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

So, I was excited going into this book because it said gothic on it, and I’m into pretty much anything gothic. And boy, did I get gothic! I also got a mix of fantasy elements that I love so much. And Death. Death was great as well. In some ways the atmosphere — something — about the book reminded me of Sorcery of Thorns, one of my all time favorite books. As well as Down Comes the Night. The combination in this book was just so well done. I was living for it. It is going to be a must re-read this fall when it’s spooky season. (I promise, you won’t be disappointed!)

Grace’s writing has only improved since her debut series, and I was gripped by it in this book. It was great before, and it is even better now. While the themes are different and styles are different, she does both very well! I found it easy to read and very addicting. I kept wanting to hug Signa. I loved her so much in this book. I adored her story — I felt connected with her even though she experienced things I hadn’t. And that is Grace’s talent, she can make you connect with a character even if it isn’t something you have experience. You feel empathy with them.

Also, the prologue was amazing . One of the best prologues that I have ever read to be honest. And I mean…the prologue was something else. What a way to get you into a book and keep you reading! Hook, line and sinker! This book was a slow burn in many ways; the romance, the plot, the world building, but it was beautifully done. I was obsessed with the idea of this glittering world, of “witches” of the personification of Death.

The romance in this book was much like Grace’s previous, it was slow and twisting; I rather enjoyed those aspects of it. Then you had the complicated factor of the mystery. Honestly, the mystery and ghosts were some of the best parts of this book. It incorporated well into the book, and it gave the book more body. And I love a gothic mystery that incorporates paranormal elements. I’m a sucker for it, and Grace had all of that.

And I loved the plot. I kept flipping pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! Suffice to say, I LOVED this book. What was also nice was the MC was 19! An older YA character! Hurray! This book literally checked all the boxes I could ask for. And I am addicted. ADDICTED I TELL YOU.

I need to get my hands on the sequel because HOLY HECK I can’t wait to see what happens next! This is definitely going to be one of my favorite books of the year. I already have THREE editions ordered.

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How the heck is it the end of July?!!?!? I am in stunned shock, because it also means I AM DONE WITH GRAD SCHOOL!! I am just waiting on official grades now, but I’m done! Free!!! Free to be a librarian! (This includes a lot of shelving!)

Anyways….! July was an epic month of reading!


Read Books

TitleAuthorRating
Book of NightHolly Black⭐⭐⭐⭐
Kill the QueenJennifer Estep⭐⭐⭐⭐
What Happened to the BennettsLisa Scottoline
Protect the PrinceJennifer Estep⭐⭐⭐⭐
Crush the KingJennifer Estep⭐⭐⭐⭐
For the ThroneHannah Whitten⭐⭐⭐⭐
The MaidNita Prose⭐⭐⭐
Abandoned GirlLexie Winston⭐⭐⭐
Broken GirlLexie Winston⭐⭐⭐
Capture the CrownJennifer Estep⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tormented GirlLexie Winston⭐⭐⭐
Her Majesty's Royal CovenJuno Dawson⭐⭐
Shades of WickedJeaniene Frost⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wicked BiteJeaniene Frost⭐⭐⭐
The Last GraduateNaomi Novik⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sisters of the SnakeSasha Nanua⭐⭐⭐
Wings of ShadowNicki Pau Preto⭐⭐⭐⭐
Brutal VowsJ.T. Geissinger⭐⭐
Forging Silver into StarsBrigid Kemmerer⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Merciless OnesNamina Forna⭐⭐⭐
BravelyMaggie Stiefvater⭐⭐⭐
The GuncleSteven Rowley⭐⭐⭐⭐
This Vicious GraceEmily Thiede⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Prince's Poisoned VowHailey Turner⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Dead RomanticsAshley Poston⭐⭐⭐
The Drowned WoodsEmily Lloyd-Jones⭐⭐⭐
The Echo KillingChristi Daughtry⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read Arcs

TitleAuthorRating Publish Date
One Dark WindowRachel Gillig⭐⭐⭐⭐October 18, 2022
Back to the GardenLaurie R. King⭐⭐⭐⭐September 6, 2022
The Couple at Number 9Claire Douglas⭐⭐⭐⭐August 2, 2022
BelladonnaAdalyn Grace⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐August 20, 2022
Three Kisses, One MidnightRoshani Chokshi⭐⭐⭐⭐August 30, 2022
The King Will Kill YouSarah Henning⭐⭐⭐August 2, 2022
These Fleeting ShadowsKate Alice Marshall⭐⭐⭐August 9, 2022

ARCs Received

  • The Luminaries
  • Unseelie
  • Queen Among the Dead
  • Witcha Gonna Do?

Reading Stats

This month I read: 33 books total!

Fantasy Books – 59%

  • 20 total
  • 9 Young Adult
  • 11 Adult

Mystery/Thriller Books – 18%

  • 6 total
  • 1 Young Adult
  • 5 Adult

Romance Books – 20%

  • 7 total
  • 1 Young Adult
  • 6 Adult

Other Books – 3%

  • 1 total
  • 1 Adult


On the Blog

Once more, July was me posting reviews of upcoming ARCs! I’m VERY excited to post some of the ones coming out in August!


Around and About

Working on getting myself onto a schedule…is not working. Lore Bookclub will be taking a break in August — then we’ll plan out the fall/winter books we want to read!

My favorite book this month was as tie between This Vicious Grace and Belladonna. I’ve been into more adult books recently, but these are both published as YA. The characters are all 18+ in both, but these two books have a stranglehold on me and I need to know what happens next. My next favorite was probably a tie between One Dark Window/Forging Silver Into Stars/The Prince’s Poisoned Vow. All were stupendous in their own ways.


August Hopefuls

🤷‍♀️Who knows? Probably finish the Harper McClain series, and read some more book box books.

Author: Claire Douglas
Series: n/a
Series #:
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

t was the house of their dreams. Until the bodies were found . . .

BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact.

POLICE INVESTIGATE

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose.

OWNER QUESTIONED

Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something.

A KILLER AT LARGE?

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched.

What happened thirty years ago?

Why did no one miss the victims?

What part did her grandmother play?

And is Saffy now in danger?


Review

H O L Y

I don’t even have WORDS for this book. I was addicted from the very start. We have a multi POV book, in which we’re getting the story from multiple perspectives. I was frantically turning pages to find out what happened because I was STUNNED.

When I got to the end I had to sit and think for a few minutes. My brain was going WHAT over and over and over again. This book is mind bending in the best of ways. I loved how we get pieces of the story and the plot that link together through the different characters, and as they draw closer to the answers, the tension gets amped up. Douglas did this well — she drove the story forward in a way that made sense and was interesting enough without being too complicated.

I really enjoyed the writing in this, and was FASCINATED with the mystery aspect. In a few moments we get a bit of back and forth between past and present, and it was brilliant. Honestly, I can’t even believe this book. Definitely one of the best mystery books that I have read recently. It kept me on my toes and guessing. It also made me remember how much I enjoy a good mystery book.

I still don’t know what else to say — it’s hard to when you don’t want to give away the different plot points. This book is best read going into it blind.

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Author: Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye, Sandhya Menon
Series:
Series #:
Genre: romance
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The town of Moon Ridge was founded 400 years ago and everyone born and raised there knows the legend of the young woman who perished at the stroke of twelve that very same night, losing the life she was set to embark on with her dearest love. Every century since, one day a year, the Lady of Moon Ridge descends from the stars to walk among the townsfolk, conjuring an aura upon those willing to follow their hearts’ desires.

“To summon joy and love in another’s soul
For a connection that makes two people whole
For laughter and a smile that one can never miss
Sealed before midnight with a truehearted kiss.”

This year at Moon Ridge High, a group of friends known as The Coven will weave art, science, and magic during a masquerade ball unlike any other. Onny, True, and Ash believe everything is in alignment to bring them the affection, acceptance, and healing that can only come from romance—with a little help from Onny’s grandmother’s love potion.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. And as midnight approaches, The Coven learn that it will take more than a spell to recognize those who offer their love and to embrace all the magic that follows.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

“Byron Frost might have the name and face of a poet, but he had the soul of a mechanical pencil.”

The BANTER oh my god.

AND THE NAMES IN THIS BOOK. MR. BRIGHTSIDE IS MARRIED TO ROSS GRIMJOY.

“Alexander the Great-Looking”!!!

“’Since no one got all ten right, no one gets the extra points. Alas. Maybe this upsets you, but I have found that bitterness only enhances the sweetness of existence…’ Mr. Brightside paused to look dramatically out the window.”

I am literally keeling over in stitches.

“Practicing my lurking. I’m interning with Krampus for the holidays”

I literally…cannot breathe.

And then you had beautiful lines like,

“She made him feel all five senses at once, and the bright light of her spirit consumed him.”

“Even though she was scared of the house, Ash swore he could smell the beginnings of Halloween magic in the air — clove and honey with a hint of moonlight to come.”

“The words dissipated from her suddenly dry mouth like fog burning up in the sun”

“I think Orion Parker may be my ‘solid, mortal man’ and I may indeed prefer him to the centaur I was holding out for”

This book was amazing. Normally I don’t like YA contemporary romances. But THIS BOOK. I was smiling and sighing all the way through it. I cannot explain how cute and atmospheric it is. This will be the perfect fall/Halloween read.

I loved ‘The Coven’ and their friendship. I like how supportive they were of each other, and in general I felt that the authors did an incredible job of selling both the friendships and the romances. I feel that their styles merged so wonderfully together, as they already had similar styles. It was a seamless blend that just hit the right tone and spot.

Plus, all the amazing one liners in the books. Onny’s story was definitely my favorite (I have a soft spot for “enemies-to-lovers” and grumpy hero. This was just so adorable and I can’t stop loving it.

A PERFECT witchy read for October.

.

Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Series:
Series #:
Genre: horror, mystery/thriller
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out in a bid for an inheritance that will leave Helen Vaughan either rich…or dead.

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything—the house, the grounds, and the money—to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing.

There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams—and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night?And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?

With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.


Review

I so wanted to like this book, it sounded like the perfect horror/mystery book. I’ve enjoyed other YA horror books, so I went into this one with an open mind. Yet…something about it just didn’t work for me overall.

I loved the book Hill House, and I’ve never seen Knives Out (so I can’t say how it compared to that), but I felt that the book was a tad bit…boring? I liked Helen, just felt that as a reader I wasn’t invested with her. What I did like was her relationship with Bryony. It was a bit of an insta-love romance, but I liked it anyways.

I even liked the atmosphere of the book. At times it felt a little campy and reminiscent of the original Dark Shadows TV show, but I liked that aspect of it.

There is a weird connection with the house and ghosts — and those are things I absolutely adore in books. I am still not sure how I felt about them in this book.

I think one of the issues I was having was with the writing style of this book. It just didn’t jive with me. I felt some aspects of the dialogue were stilted, and just awkward to read.

I liked Desmond a lot in this book and how he was helping Helen. Some of their interactions were really amusing.

There was a twist I wasn’t expecting; and I did enjoy that part. It kept me reading until the end of the book!

The book was good and I think it is going to appeal to a lot of people, it just didn’t end up being the best book for me.

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Author: Sarah Henning
Series: Kingdoms of Sand and Sky
Series #: 3
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The epic tale concludes with The King Will Kill You, as the newly-crowned Queen Amarande and Luca, her one true love, seek peace among the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky. Wartorn and regicidal, all five kingdoms must confront the power-mad king determined to seize control of the continent–and kill Amarande and Luca in the process.


Review

What did I think of this final book in the series? I was underwhelmed. The first book was so good, and I had high hopes for the rest of the series. My one major problem with this book was it was pretty much the same plotline from the first two books recycled. I felt that it didn’t add anything new, or any more depth to the story.

Much like that, I felt the characters themselves were rather static. I quite liked Ferdinand and I used to love Luca and Ama. They weren’t bad characters by any stretch of the imagination, I just didn’t feel that they were the best. Ama was still a fierce warrior and still determined, but it was like all the other books. Nothing new was added that made me want to root for her.

Sure, this book had politics, but I felt that the politics were the most interesting of the parts of the book, and even then it was slightly boring. I had really wanted this book to end on a high note, but it just didn’t hit right to me. There was something I felt missing from the book.

All in all, I feel like this trilogy could have been a duology. There was so much repetitive parts.

What I did continue to like in this book was the world building. I think Henning is a talented world builder, and that continued in this book from the previous two. She is also an excellent writer.

For me, I wanted more. One of the good aspects of this book is we do finally get to see Ama and Luca interacting more. The previous two books it was like they weren’t together for the majority of the book. In this one, we finally get to see how they love each other and respect each other. I enjoyed those parts as well, since it was a long time coming and very drawn out!

In the end, I liked the book’s ending. I felt it was appropriate for the story, and while I would have liked to see more expanded upon, I am pretty happy with how the book ended. I just wish the villains had been more in this book — or not included.

A solid three star book for me.

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Author: Foz Meadows
Series:
Series #:
Genre: fantasy, romance, queer
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.


Review

WOW. What do I even say about this book? I don’t think it is at all possible to encompass how much I loved this book. I could not put it down. I may or may not have spilled enchiladas on my arc as I was reading it…

This is my first book by Meadow’s but I’m going to have to go back and find more of their work. Because it was stupendous. I mean, it was two things I love:

a) queer and

b) fantasy!

I mean…what could be better?

Enemies-friends-romance trope? Check.

Super inclusive? Check.

Witty banter? Check.

Great dialogue? Check.

Interesting supporting characters? Check.

Interesting plot? Check.

This book checks off all my wants and needs in a book. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance will not leave my brain. I can’t do anything but think about it. It is my new obsession. I just LOVED the characters in this book. I mean ughhhh. I cannot even think because this book just was amazing.

You know how hard it is to write a review and list everything a book has done that you loved? Yeah, that’s me right now. I need like thirty special editions of this book. SERIOUSLY.

Vel was the best.** I loved reading his POV. Cae was amazing too. Just, Vel I felt for him. I wanted to keep him safe. Hug him. Vel and Cae’s relationship? It was one of the best developed romances that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Meadows did a great job on that, and the balance she maintained between the romance and the plot? Excellent.

The plot was much more political intrigue and action than I expected. But it worked so well.

As mentioned this book is inclusive, and while one country feels very much like ours, the other is very open and accepting and normalizes being queer. We have relationships of all types, of all genders and it is incorporated seamlessly. There is also disability representation – one of the characters is mute! And the others learn sign language to communicate with him.

If you are looking for a queer fantasy? This is it. A huge round of applause for Foz Meadows because this book is going to be in the top of my top books of the year. I kinda want a sequel? Can I get a sequel? I mean I feel that the world building in this was such that there is so much to explore.

I will say that there are some content warnings to be aware of:

These include: rape, attempted rape, violence, gore, punishment, homophobia, suicide, suicidal ideation

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