The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) – Kalyn Josephson (ARC)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Review:

I was lucky enough to grab an advanced readers copy of The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson from the Source Books booth at Book Expo! Huge thank you to Source Books and Kalyn Josephson!! So I’ve noticed a crow theme with some of my latest reads (The Storm Crow, The Merciful Crow, Godsgrave, and of course I have to include Six of Crows even though it wasn’t a recent read) and I am all for it!

The Storm Crow takes place in the Kingdom of Rhodaire, where magical crows with elemental powers are involved in all aspects of life. Thia, is the second born princess and is training to become a crow rider. But everything changes the night of the annual crow egg hatching. The neighboring kingdom of Illucia attacks the Rhodaire capital of Aris and kills all of the crows. Many people die in the attack, including Thia’s mother, the queen. The people of Aris are lost without the crows. They have depending on them for everything for so long, that it’s difficult for the society to function. Thia’s older sister, Caliza, is now queen and is forced to make an alliance with Queen Razel of Illucia. Caliza agrees to the engagement of Thia to Razel’s son, Ericen. Thia is desperate to find a way out of the engagement and to help the people of Rhodaire. She finds a crow egg and becomes determined to hatch it to help Rhodaire defeat Illucia for good.

The story started off so strong. The first few chapters started off with a bang and pulled me in immediately. Unfortunately the story kind of plateaued after that. It was still good, but slow and not a lot happened until the very end. This probably won’t make sense but even though I found the plot slow, there were elements of the story that happened too quickly. For example, it seemed like Thia was in Illucia for about five minutes before the big ending. This also connects to the relationships. This review is spoiler free so I won’t include any details, but the romances progressed way to quickly. Thia met a man and was in love with him within a few chapters. It all happened too fast and almost felt forced. But speaking of romances, I did love the representation of a LGBTQ relationship. It was only alluded to so I hope there is more in the next book.

The plot was also fairly predictable. The ending felt a little rushed and was a tiny bit disappointing, but I’m still curious to see what happens next.


Now to what I loved about The Storm Crow!

I absolutely loved the magic system. The giant crows with elemental magic was beyond cool! In Rhodaire, there are eight types of crows and each has a corresponding power . . .

  • Shadow Crow
  • Battle Crow
  • Wind Crow
  • Water Crow
  • Earth Crow
  • Storm Crow
  • Fire Crow
  • Sun Crow (Healers)

This was such a fresh and original magic system. Props to Kalyn Josephson for creating a new, unique world that was so fascinating!

My absolute favorite part of The Storm Crow was the accurate and beautifully done representation of mental health and depression. I can’t say enough about how impressed I am by Josephson’s depiction of depression. It was so well done. Josephson shows that depression is a huge part of life and it is not a choice. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, it was so meaningful to see such a beautiful depiction. Depression will always be a part of Thia’s life, but it isn’t her whole life.

I have several quotes that I absolutely have to include . . .

“Yet even as I had the thought, it felt distant and detached, as if it’s come from another person. Trying to hold onto it was like trying to hold smoke with my bare hands. I knew what I needed to do, but working up the will to do it felt like trying to fight my way above water in a depthless ocean. It was so hard not to drown.”

“This is how it was. One moment, I was moving forward, and the next, I couldn’t move at all. No matter how important the day or what I needed to do, the feeling come and refused to leave.”

“There had been nothing shameful about my pain, nothing I’d needed to hide or hide from. I’d been afraid to face what the pain he meant, that my life as I’d known it was over, that I had to choose a new path.”

“I had survived the loss and the depression thick as mud that came after it, and I would keep surviving them.”

“I am more than my emotions, more than my depression and fear.”

“That heavy feeling might never leave me, but I could live with it. I’d survived, and I would continue to survive.”

Talking about Thia’s depression brings me to her friendship with Kiva. I adored Kiva and Thia’s friendship. The way the two women support and love one another is just amazing. I especially appreciate how supportive Kiva is when dealing with Thia’s depression. She is a perfect balance for Thia. Kiva pushes her, but also understands when not to push. She fully accepts and loves Thia. Once again, excellent job to Kalyn Josephson for writing a powerful and supportive female friendship.

One last thing that I loved about The Storm Crow . . . the glossary in the back of the book! I love when authors include glossaries. It is helpful to keep the world building straight and it also provides so much more fun information!


Overall, The Storm Crow was a fairly predictable story that started out strong, but plateaued in the middle. Despite this, I totally recommend it due to the awesome and creative magic system with the crows, and the amazing representation of depression and mental health. The Storm Crow ends with a cliffhanger and I am definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next.

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson is out now! Go check it out!!

A Heart So Fierce & Broken (Cursebreakers, #2) – Brigid Kemmerer (Advanced Reader Copy)

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom. 
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

Review:

I was lucky enough to meet Brigid Kemmerer and receive an advanced readers copy of A Heart So Fierce & Broken at Book Expo! Huge thank you to Bloomsbury and Brigid Kemmerer!

So here’s the thing . . . I liked A Curse So Dark & Lonely. It was a simple, easy, and fast-paced read that was very predictable. It was fun, but overall just good. To me, there was nothing immensely special about the story. I did enjoy it though and I was looking forward to reading the sequel. 

I have very similar feelings about A Heart So Fierce & Broken. It was incredibly engrossing and addictive, but once again I found the story predictable and simple. Again, it was just good. It was a nice easy read that was a good palate cleanser in between more complex books. I will say that Kemmerer has a gift for writing incredibly addictive stories! I flew through both books in this series. 

A Heart So Fierce & Broken picks up a few months after the events of A Curse So Dark & Lonely. This story focuses on Grey and a new character, Lia Mara. I knew going in that this story was primarily about Grey, but I was expecting at least some POV chapters from Harper. There was exactly one chapter from Harper’s POV. I was disappointed by this, because I really enjoyed her character in this first book. She was so smart, snarky, and fierce. Also, as a NICU nurse, I love seeing differently abled people represented in popular culture. I care for a lot of premature babies who end up with Cerebral Palsy, so it was really cool to see CP represented in a lead character. Although I missed Harper’s POVs, I did absolutely love hearing the story from Grey’s POV. I adored Grey in the first book and I love him even more now. You know who I didn’t like in the first book and now hate even more? RHEN! He was definitely meant to be a villain in this story.

The other main POV was a new character, Lia Mara. Lia Mara is the eldest daughter of Karis Luran, the queen of Syhl Shallow. Lia was a nice romance (that’s not a spoiler because it’s obvious from the synopsis) for Grey. I liked the idea of her character, but she was just too one-note. There was nothing about her that stood out. I obviously loved that she strives for peace, but that seemed to be her only defining character trait. However, one of my favorite scenes (and quotes) of the whole book was with Lia Mara and Grey where Grey is totally supportive of her . . . “You did not think you could do it, and then you did. That is more than just physical strength.”

There were a couple other of new characters that I really liked. Tycho was my absolute favorite new addition to this world. He was just the sweetest and such a good friend to Grey. I also was very intrigued by Isiak, the scarver. He was super cool and interesting, but I found the scarver history kind of confusing. I am hoping that the next book delves into the scarvers more.

The world of A Curse So Dark & Lonely definitely grew in this book. We get to travel to the adjacent kingdom of Syhl Shallow and explore a little of its land and customs. I definitely want to explore more of the world outside of Emberfall. Fingers crossed for more world exploring (including the scarvers) in the next book.

A Heart So Fierce & Broken ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. I wasn’t completely surprised by the ending, but I am totally hooked. I want to see where the story goes next! 

Thank you again to Bloomsbury and Brigid Kemmerer for this awesome ARC! 

A Heart So Fierce & Broken will be released January 7th, 2020. A Curse So Dark & Lonely is currently for sale at all major retailers! Go check it out!