Author: Lana Harper
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove
Series #: 2
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Age Group: Adult
ARC?: Yes

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.


Review

It was a huge surprise for me! I enjoyed this book so much. There was just something about it that worked for me; but hadn’t quite worked for me in the first book. Maybe this is a sign I need to go back and try the first book again! 

Issa was a brilliant character and I LOVED everything about her. She was such a nuanced character, and one that I think people will relate to. (Even if we don’t have any witchy powers, sadly). Issa and her relationship with her family was lovely. The way Harper played out her sisters and her relationship, as well as the relationship with her mother was so well done. I loved that side plot and how it contributed to the book. 

And Rowan was SO SO adorable. I loved when he was being so gentle and caring. It made me melt. We didn’t get as much relationship with Rowan and his family, but I like how Harper showed that Issa and Rowan had good, but different, relationships with their parents. 

Oh, did I mention that this was an enemies to lovers romance? No? It is. And it is well done. One thing I really appreciated about this book is that miscommunication isn’t a huge trope, but done here, it was  done right. I was very impressed with Harper for that. 

This isn’t what I would call a super spicy book, it has a few spicy scenes, but by and large the book is focused on the mystery and the relationships between the characters. There are a few plot points that made me laugh, and I just loved how it was opposites attract romance too. Rival families…it pretty much hit on all the things I love. 

Harper is also a great writer. It’s bliss to read this book, because the cadence and the pace of the book. Also, there is an atmosphere to this book. It reminds me of a cozy mystery, but with witches. And diversity. 

There were a few important conversations had in this book regarding racism and prejudice (Rowan is a Black man). 

Talia and Emmy were back (briefly) in this one, so we heard how much they were into each other. It was adorable! (I really do plan to go back and read the first book…) 

I will say, Issa felt like such a strong character, but she hits a point in this book where she becomes overwhelmed. I loved the representation of anxiety and trying to deal with it on your own because you’re supposed to be “strong”. 

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I highly recommend that you add it to your shelves! I know I want to! 

P.S. the title is so cute too. I totally forgot I had DNF’d Paybacks a Witch until I requested this ARC, got approved and went to look. This is what happens when pretty covers and cool descriptions are briefly looked at, and not read all the way through. I guess I didn’t realize this was a sequel. 🙈

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Author: Ava Reid
Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for an arc in exchange for an honest reivew!

I was super excited to get an ARC of this book, I gave her previous novel 4 stars. This one is somewhat interlinked with that one, and touches on similar subjects. This one is dark fantasy and horror combined. I had hoped that I was going to absolutely love this book, however, it fell short for me in many ways, which is a bit unfortunate. There were some good aspects to the book as well, and I will discuss those aspects first.

Reid is a talented writer. I love her prose. It is able to evoke feelings, emotions, moods and atmosphere. It is essentially, a lush book that could be easy to get lost in. The writing is one of the best parts of the entire book to be quite honest.

I love her world-building. It definitely captures the imagination, and you can even imagine it was real. This I think it partly because it is grounded in truth. It makes it easier to believe.

The incorporation of the fairy tales was excellent and remains one of my favorite parts of the book. I love how they just meld into the story seamlessly.

Even the premise of the book was good, so what was wrong with the book overall?

I struggled a bit with the characters. I feel that I didn’t ever really become convinced by them or their relationships. I wish I had because I think it would have been more successful for me.

Secondly, I was bored. This is definitely a me problem. I kept getting distracted and wanting to skim read through this book. I felt that there was no advancement in plot or character development, and that some of it was repetitive. I kept hoping that the end of the book would make it better. It sadly didn’t. It did get more intense towards the end of the book, but didn’t make up for the pacing.

I am however looking forward to seeing what the author produces next!

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Author: Jennifer Saint
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, mythology, retelling
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?


Review

Overview

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book was high on my list of books that I wanted to read. I’m a huge fan of Greek Mythology, especially new and different takes on what we think we know about it. Madeline Miller’s Circe was excellent because we got to see the myth’s from a woman’s perspective, not that of the men who take up about 90% of the mythology. When we do get women in myth they are usually evil or temptresses or some other variety of a woman who is considered bad or wrong. Much like Circe, Ariadne takes the myth as we know it and turns it into a powerful look at sexism and empowerment.

Writing


This book was a delight to read on so many levels. Saint’s writing is excruciatingly beautiful and I fell in love with it from the very beginning. There is something so powerful about this writing, and I felt it in my bones as I was reading this novel. It is very prose filled with some dialogue, but the prose is powerful. Much of the dialogue focuses on stories and the myths that we’ve all come to know. One interesting thing is how Saint manages to loop in the other myths and explains how the relate to Ariadne. While the book is titled Ariadne, her sister Phaedra, has some chapters from her perspective as well.

Plot

The plot of the book revolves around Ariadne and her family. The choices she makes from helping Theseus and the Labyrinth to after. The book was very detailed in its plot. It stuck to the general feeling of the original myth but elaborates and adds perspective from Ariadne. The plot is almost backseat to Ariadne and her own power.

Characters

One thing I loved about this book is we know so little about the women in the myth. Saint has had to create and invent a personality and overall general character for Ariadne. Like many other women in Greek myth she lacks character. The goddesses have a little more, but here we see how powerful Saint is because her characterization is so lovely. From the moment you meet the women in this book you can see what positions they’re in, and how they have to fight. This book shows how women are manipulated for men’s purposes. Saint did it so wonderfully and it was well done – I cannot express how much I enjoyed it.

Pacing

The pacing of this book is slow. It doesn’t meander, but it definitely has a purpose to the slowness. And it is helped by the fact we flip between what action there is in the book.

Last Thoughts

Elaborating from myth and real Greece, Saint creates a world and captures the imagination of mythic Greece. The palace of Knossos is vivid in the imagination, and when you look at pictures it is easy to envision Ariadne and her sister there.

This book was just stunningly beautiful on so many levels and I absolutely feel in love with it. It left me breathless and engaged. I can’t put into words how much I adored this book.

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Author: Wendy Clarke
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: mystery
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Everyone in town said it was a mercy that she remembered so little. But there are some things Maya has never forgotten: that her mother was beautiful and kind, and she loved Maya very much. It’s what her father Stephen always tells her, about his perfect wife.

Years later, Maya still lives with her father in their cliffside home. Thankful for all the sacrifices he has made for her, she never pushes to find out what happened the night he lost the woman he loved. Even when she hears the whispers in town about him, and what they say he’s done.

But then Stephen introduces Maya to his new girlfriend Amy, and Maya starts to feel uneasy. With her soft dark hair and big blue eyes, Amy looks just like Maya’s mother. The more time they spend together the more Maya notices just how similar they are. And the tune Amy hums whilst cleaning the dishes is the same lullaby Maya’s mother sang to her when she was a little girl…

A thrilling and twisty tale, His Hidden Wife will keep you up all night, desperate to race through to its final conclusion. Readers of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and Lisa Jewell will be hooked.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an earc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So, the premise of the book seemed intriguing. It was why I requested it in the first place. However, I just didn’t enjoy the book. It was okay. The writing was good, and there was enough of a mystery to be entertaining. Yet, at the same time, the mystery felt a little disjointed. It was almost as if there was too much going on, and nothing felt really well developed.

The characters too, I didn’t really like. It felt like the book was aiming for unreliable narrators and just missed the mark with this one. It’s a shame, because I think it could have been a really good book.

There were some important points brought up in the book, but in the context of the whole plot…just felt odd and unnecessary, like, they were brought in to add more tension, but instead did nothing.

CW/TW: abuse, domestic abuse, murder, self-harm

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Author: Aiden Thomas
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal/supernatural, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave. 


Review

Thank you to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

First off there were a whole bunch of things I loved about this book. We get Yadriel who is an amazing character. He has such a sweetness to him that I adore and you really want all the best for him. Julian too is a great character. One thing I felt is I liked the characters more individually than I did together. One of my issues was the romance just didn’t work for me completely. There isn’t one thing I could put my finger on. But I loved them each on their own and felt it worked really well. Not to say the romance want cute, it was. I like insta romances but I felt that this one kind of fell a bit flat compared to all the other moving parts in this book. I suppose I wanted more of it? Just a minor thing I would have liked.

I think the world building is stunning! There is so much to love about it. I really enjoyed getting to know the different aspects of the world and how magic was explained. I loved those portions and I love how culture was worked in through the book. It all felt very cohesive and just…I loved it. I loved every minute of when we were getting Yadrial being a brujo I loved how he dealt with the issues of culture and being trans. It all worked so well within the novel and was done brilliantly. This is one of the best parts of the book!

I think my main issues were the pacing and writing. The pacing is where I struggled intensely because I felt there were portions I just didn’t love. The pacing felt a little less cohesive than I would have liked, and it made some sections a bit awkward for my personal tastes. And while the writing is good, I did think it could have been a bit better. Those are both me things though! In the long run I think the writing was good, and that while I didn’t like portions of the pacing it didn’t take away that much from the book. Which is why it is a solid 4 star rating from me!

The plot of this book (and the bad guy) was pretty obvious, but that really didn’t bother me at all. It’s not a bad thing to have guessed the plot and it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyable reading experience. The plot was well done and I think it tied in well with many of the issues presented in the book. We have both action plot and character plot pushing the story forward.

Overall, I felt that this was an excellent book and one that I will definitely being recommending to everyone! I think this is going to be one of those enduring books that people will want to continually go back to and enjoy immensely.

Also be sure to check out some of the #OwnVoices reviews as well – they’ll have insight into the culture as well as the trans experience that I don’t have!

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Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.


Review

This was a giveaway win from Goodreads! Thank you to the publisher!

I really liked Sky in the Deep. I thought The Girl the Sea Gave Back was good! So I was tentatively nervous going into this book, because I was worried how it would be compared to the others. So starting Fable I wondered how I would feel…if I would love the book or if this was going to be one of the ones I had to give up. However, I was drawn in from the moment that I started this book. There was something about it that caught me and made me want to read more minute by minute.

Young’s writing has only grown and improved since Sky in the Deep and she has more than proven her talent with this book. Her writing was inviting and warm. You felt for Fable and you could just envision what was happening. The way Young crafted the story worked really well for me, and left me wanting more. The way it ended…suffice to say I can’t wait until I can read the next book in the series.

Fable was a great character, and I really loved her strength and determination to become more and to succeed. She was fierce and fiery and I loved every minute of her journey. I especially loved the complicated friendships that she developed, but also the relationship with her family. I felt that that was one of the underlying themes of the book: family and friends. I like how Young took to that theme and it stuck throughout the whole book.

I even enjoyed the plot of this book, although much of it could easily be considered a spoiler, so I don’t want to talk about it extensively. One aspect of the plot that I liked is that there were several hurdles that Fable had to overcome, and none of them were obstacles that made me roll my eyes and groan. In fact, I rather thought that the journey was amazing and a great experience in and of itself. This is definitely more of an action packed book than the previous one I think.

There also seemed to be a faster pace to this book which I enjoyed A LOT. I think there is a lot to be said for Young changing the pacing of this book to a faster speed. It worked.

Finally, I think the world building was good. We never get a lot of it from Young (partially because limited book lengths and as the start to a series!), but just enough to help us see the world or understand it. I would have liked a little more world building, but honestly, it was good as it was.

Young’s romances are not my favorite parts of the books, but they are enjoyable. I felt it was done so much better in this book. Like 90% better than previously and I am looking forward to seeing how that romance develops.


In the end I am really excited for the next book in the series because I am very interested to see where Fable goes from here.

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Author: Erica Waters
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror, paranormal, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.

Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.

But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.

In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.


Review

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Do you like atmospheric books? Do you like music? Folk music? Blues? Do you like queer characters? Bi characters? Do you like paranormal books? Books with ghosts? Creepy books? If you answer was yes to any of the above questions, then this book should be on your radar. This book had all of those things, and I highly suggest you check it out if that appeals to you. It certainly appealed to me, and I really enjoyed the book. I think it was absolutely well done from beginning to end. There is little more I love than an atmospheric book that can draw me in!

The Writing
Part of what worked so well for the book is Waters’ writing. Waters has a way of invoking images into your mind, and mind you, I’m one of those readers that has a tough time seeing pictures in my head. Yet somehow, I felt like I was seeing pictures. I felt that I was there, that I could hear the music, sense the unease…there was something entirely provoking about the writing and it is very difficult to put my finger on how to explain it. Suffice to say, I think the writing was powerful. I enjoyed the descriptions and the dialogue both.

The Pacing
The pacing of the book was fabulous for the most part. I felt there were a couple of moments in the entire book that I didn’t quite get, but generally I felt the pacing was nice. If you’re looking for fast paced, this isn’t it. No, this is a gorgeous slow build of a book. You’re lured in and seduced as you get more and more into the book. It very much feels like you’re holding your breath waiting to see what is going to happen next…and at the same time you’re not sure you want to know!

The Plot
The plot of this book really worked for me. I like a good ghost story, and a plot that revolves around a main character solving a mystery to do with ghosts. I felt that this catered to me in so many ways. I felt like this book was perfect in the plot aspect. I never lost interest, no, instead I was curious. I was constantly guessing at what was the right answer. I loved that. The plot is hard to talk about without giving too much away, and this book is a great experience.

The Characters
We have a bi character! A bi character who I thought was done SO WELL. I cannot emphasize that enough. There were multiple relationship issues in this book, but I felt that they were dealt with in a respectful manner, and I loved how it turned out. Every character came off the page and felt vibrant and alive. I really enjoyed that about this book. The characters were ones that you felt a vested interest in. And you wanted them to “win”.

Overall
An amazing book, and one I would recommend, especially during the summer months if you’re looking for a book with a creepy vibe!

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Author: Estelle Laure
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: historical, mystery, paranormal
Age Group: young adu;t
ARC?: yes

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for a copy of the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book looked interesting to me both from synopsis and from the cover. The cover is so beautiful, and I was excited to start reading it. I will say this, I have never seen/read The Lost Boys or the Craft, so I had nothing to compare it to. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into in regards to that. Anyways, overall, it was okay. I really didn’t love it, or more specifically, I really liked the beginning of the book, but by the time we got to the middle I was no longer interested, and by the end I was bored.

The Writing
So, I think the writing is excellent. There is little I have to complain about the writing. I think the format of the book was lovely, we get past and “present” in this case 1987. So sometimes it made me blink to realize it wasn’t in present day. Although I feel like there could have been some benefit of it being set in present day. Overall, I think the writing was good and it worked.

The Pacing
The pacing was good at first, and then about halfway through the book it felt like everything changed, and then the book lost its momentum. It just felt awkward to me, and I didn’t enjoy the pacing all that much.

The Plot
Part of the problem with the pacing I think, comes from the plot. The plot is there, but I felt that a) the first part of the book was more entertaining before we even get to the meat of the “plot” and b) the actual plot took place in the last 20% of the book. Which is why the pacing felt awkward to me. If the book had been more plot focused I think it would have worked better. As it stands, it feels like it was supposed to be plot and character driven, and unfortunately, I think it fell down in the character section as well.

The Characters
I liked Mayhem at first. I think she was the best character of the lot. The rest of them were just…I don’t know. I felt that if the plot wasn’t actually going to be the main focus, and the character driven arcs were, we should have had more character development. We don’t really get that. For the most part the characters are static, and it is just okay overall. I liked Mayhem, and I think she was a good character. Overall, I felt that it was lackluster in terms of characters. I didn’t particularly really like anyone aside from Mayhem and to an extent Kidd.

Overall
It was an okay book. I think 2.5 stars, closer to 3 is about what I would rate this book. So strong at the beginning, and then it fell off. It was a huge disappointment to me. I was excited for it, but it just…didn’t do anything. I felt lost, and underwhelmed overall.

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Author: Kalyn Josephson
Series: The Storm Crow
Series #: 2
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.


Review

I gave the first book in this series three stars. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. However, I was very excited to see where the second book would take us in the world. I thought that it had all the potential in the world to be an amazing book. I was right. This book was absolutely stunning from beginning to end. I absolutely enjoyed it. So much more than the first one. I know this is a duology, but I am so not ready to leave these characters behind yet.

The Writing
I love Josephson’s writing. There is something so endearing about it to me. It resonates, and it makes me so happy to read. I flew through this in two hours. I could not put the book down. I was sucked in and drawn in. It’s how she writes the characters, and the plotlines…just it all worked so well together. It felt so wonderful. Everything was alive and breathing for me in this book. I loved the writing so much.

The Pacing
I had some issues with the pacing in the first book, but honestly? This one I had no problems at all. This book was action packed to the brim, and it is the perfect type of book for me. the plots that were going on, the character development, all of it felt well paced to me, and I was enjoying to because nothing seemed too rushed or too slow. There was purpose.

The Plot
I enjoyed the plot of this one much more than the first one. Not sure why the plot and I didn’t work in the first one (I found the evil queen Razel and arranged marriage really boring) but the plot really worked in this one. It felt like it undid what I didn’t like in the first one and made it so much better. Of course, lots of stuff goes down in this book, and I literally do not want to talk about any of it for fear of spoiling anything that happens. It is worth it to read without any preconceived notions.

The Characters
THIA. I love Thia and Kiva and their friendship. I feel that it works so well becomes it helps form the basis of the book. It is steady and there, and I love a good friendship. And theirs is written so well. I am highly impressed by that. Also Auma and Kiva? *insert heart eyes* (See that notation? I love them. I want to see a story all about them!) Thia is just an amazing character in this. I feel like she really grows and starts to come into herself in this book, and it works for her. She becomes a stronger person.


Another thing that I didn’t like in the first book but liked in this one was Ericen and Thia’s friendship and its development. I liked it a lot better in this, it went well with the story.


There are a lot of characters in this, and honestly, they’re all great. Even the bad ones. I liked everything about it.

The World building
Again, I think the world building is really good in this series. Flying crows? Yes. HECK YES. One of the best parts! And I like how the world is set up, but it isn’t too detailed so you’re not getting tripped up or trying to figure anything out. It works!

Overall
AMAZING BOOK. I can’t wait to see what else Josephson has in store for us, because I know I will be looking for more books by her in the future!

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Author: Kaylynn Flanders
Series: Shielded
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.


Review

Thank you to Netgalley for an e-arc.

You know what, I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. It was advertised as similar to a Sorcery of Thorns, but it isn’t really. This book is unique in and of itself. I think it does follow the mold of a fantasy book, and it does deal with libraries, but it isn’t the same, and you should not be thinking this is going to be another Sorcery of Thorns. It isn’t. However, I liked it just as much. (And I will admit, one part tore my heart out, and I’m not sure I can still believe it if its true…)

The Writing
The writing was lovely. I have no complaints in regards to the writing. I think there is something to be said for prose that flows well and isn’t inundated with description for a book like this. This book is very much action focused and it is go-go-go all the time. And yet it worked really well with Flanders writing style. I was impressed by it all. I couldn’t put the book down…I got obsessed and read it in one night. When I’m sleep deprived at work, I’m going to blame this addicting book.

The Pacing
Again, I loved the pacing of this book. I am sometimes in the mood for fast paced books, and sometimes in the mood for slow paced books. This one is a fast paced one. Something is always happening. Action everywhere! Do not expect there to be too many boring tea parties and balls in this book my good friends, but do expect lots of heroics, awesome sword waving girls and magic. In other words, yes, I liked the pacing.

The Plot
Now, I love this magic plot. And the library portions. All of it really. And I LOVED the take on the princess and the betrothal and everything else. It just all seemed to work together. I never felt that any of it was coming out awkwardly, and I wasn’t cringing every ten minutes. Were there certain parts I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” at as loud as I could yet.

Also, P.S. I got partway through the book and said “HAH I’M RIGHT” and then went “Uh-OH” and anyways, suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised all the way through with the plot. Yay good plots!

The Characters
JENNA. Let me tell you, she reminds me very much of Tamora Pierce’s heroines in some ways. She has the strength and likeability of them. She is flawed, but also good. I really loved her, and I think her journey in this story is great.

Enzo is as well. Ren too. Honestly, I only hate the villains as I was rightfully supposed to. But I like the characters. I feel for them. I wept tears and I rejoiced. I lived vicariously through Jenna and her amazing-ness. Yes, I liked the characters.

Let me just say, I think this book is great because the story doesn’t just revolve around romance.

The World building
One word: fabulous. I am really intrigued by this world. I do believe that what we’re give in terms of knowledge is more than enough to satisfy me. I never felt it was too much or too little. The lands are a part of the story yes, but so is the magic. And they’re woven together beautifully. I love it.

Overall
If you can’t tell, I loved this book. LOVED IT. I cannot wait to purchase it so I can get that gorgeous cover on my shelf…and now I’m thinking of the horrific wait for the next book because I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

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