The Unmarked Witch (Unmarked, #1) – Miranda Lyn [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

ALL RAVEN WANTS IS PEACE. BUT IN A MAGICAL REALM PLAGUED BY DECEPTION, THE ONLY THING HER WORLD KNOWS IS TURMOIL.

A land where witches wear their spells like tattoos is no place for a woman without a single magical mark—except for Raven, whose unblemished skin contradicts the truth of her power. Surviving under the scowls of her fellow witches has carved indelible scars into her mind over the years—just as the day she watched the Dark King’s men murder her grandmother in cold blood.

But the Dark King’s reign of terror is far-reaching, and Raven’s grandmother won’t be the last witch to die under his rule. After the death of a coven leader heralds the start of the infamous Witch Trials, Raven finds herself dodging death to triumph. The journey quickly descends into perils far greater than she’d ever imagined, including a war on her heart from a man she’d only ever known as a villain.

Still, trust is always fragile in kingdoms ruled by magic, especially when love enters the fold. Yet, something else is awry in the land of spells and shadows and Raven must decide whether she trusts her gut or her heart.

The Unmarked Witch is the first gripping book in the seductive and intriguing duology, Unmarked.

Review:

Huge thank you to Miranda Lyn for sharing this e-arc with me. The following review reflects my honest reading experience. 

I am honored to be a part of Miranda’s street team for The Unmarked Witch! It has been so much fun to be a part of this incredible group of book witches!! FOREST COVEN FOREVER! 

The Unmarked Witch follows Raven Moonstone, a witch competing to become the leader of her coven. This story had everything . . . strong women, friendship, romance, magic, and lots of action. Plus all the twists and a cliffhanger ending!! I loved this book!!

The magic system in The Unmarked Witch was so cool and unique! I found it totally fascinating! In this world, the witches wear their magic on their skin as markings. Each marking represents a different spell. There is no limit to the types of magic too! For example, there’s spells for unlocking doors, slicing, familiars, fire, and so much more. Raven is different though because she has spells, but no markings. This makes her a bit of an outcast, but she owns it and is so fierce!

The Trials were my favorite part of The Unmarked Witch. I had no idea what to expect from the tasks and I was blown away. They were so intense and exciting! Each Trial tested the witches in a different way. This was such a great way to explore the world, different covens, and magic system. I loved traveling to each of the covens!! Shout out to Forest Coven because WOW. As soon as I read the description of Forest Coven I fell in love. I think it was meant to be that Miranda placed me in Forest Coven for the street team. Forest Coven sounded perfect for me!  

Another thing I really loved was the relationships between characters in The Unmarked Witch. Especially Raven and Kirsi’s friendship. The bond these two have was so beautiful and I loved how they support each other through it all. Both women are strong, fierce, independent, and so loving towards one another. Raven and Kirsi are friendship goals!! I also could not get enough of Raven’s relationships with the Dark King and Grey. There was so much banter!!! I loved it!! Plus the romance was totally swoon-worthy. It’s definitely a slow burn/enemies to lovers situation which is my favorite! I’m also a sucker for the whole discovering your archenemy isn’t what they seem. Miranda writes these tropes so well!

I could not get enough of The Unmarked Witch! This book was fast paced and kept me engaged throughout the whole thing! It was such a page turner and I couldn’t put it down! The ending was full of twists and has a pretty major cliffhanger. I need book two in my life asap. It’s going to be a long wait!

If you like fantasy, witchy vibes, unique magic systems, and well crafted characters, then I highly recommend you check out The Unmarked Witch.

The Unmarked Witch is set to be released September 20th, 2022. 

Does this sound like a book your interested in? Head over to my Instagram and check out my bio and highlights (forest coven + unmarked witch) for links to preorder and all the details about joining your own coven!

The Phoenix Priest (The Blood & Water Saga, #2) – Cassidy Clarke [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Elias Loch has nothing left to believe in.

After the loss of his battlemate, all he wants is to go home to Nyx and lose himself to grief. But when the Goddess of Death summons him to Artem, a kingdom of fire and steel, he finds himself plunged into a series of trials to earn him and his princely companion an audience with Artem’s Empress—trials that will force him to confront what it truly means to have faith in his goddess…and himself.

Finnick Atlas is playing a game against the gods, and he’s used up all his cheats.

Burdened by his new title and the two gods walking his halls, he needs to be at the top of his game to keep control over his kingdom. But with a maddening magic threatening to steal what’s left of his sanity, a goddess puppeting his little sister’s body for nefarious ends, and an arranged marriage with the Queen of Lapis looming on the horizon, he’s running out of sleeves to slip aces into. Luckily, a new friend from the Lapisian delegation may just be the key to winning all his games…if he can trick a worshipper of the Trickster Goddess.

Soren Nyx can’t seem to die.

Trapped inside her own body, she has only one goal left: to keep Anima, Goddess of Life, from seeing into her memories and finding her family’s weaknesses. But retreating into the depths of her own mind has unintended consequences, and with the help of an old friend, Soren must navigate the lost memories of her childhood as Soleil, all with one question in mind: will she finally give in to the death that’s been chasing her since girlhood, or will she rise again as someone new?

Review:

This review will contain minor spoilers from The Saltwater Heir.

Huge thank you to Cassidy Clarke and the team at Sapphire Ink Press for sharing this e-arc with me! The following review reflects my honest reading experience.

I cannot express to you how excited I was to receive an advanced copy of The Phoenix Priest! The Saltwater Heir was one of my top reads from last year. It’s also an all-time favorite read. The Saltwater Heir ended with so many twists and such a major cliffhanger that I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel. I’m so happy to say that The Phoenix Priest was an excellent follow-up! Cassidy Clarke has done it again!

The Phoenix Priest picks up right where The Saltwater Heir left off. Elias and Kallias are off to Nyx, Finn remains in the palace, and Soren is currently sharing her body with the goddess Anima. The story is told through these multiple points of view and it is so well done. Each POV really added depth, growth, and perspective to the story and the characters. For example, I really wanted to just blindly hate Anima. However, the author did an excellent job of using her chapters to paint a bigger picture and actually make me feel for her. She’s still not my favorite character, but I definitely understand her more. And speaking of Anima . . . there is much more interaction with the gods in The Phoenix Priest! It was so cool to learn more about them and their powers. I can’t wait to find out even more as the series goes on!

My favorite part of this series is the relationships between the characters. This is done a bit differently this time because the Atlas siblings are scattered throughout the world. I did not really care too much for Kallias in the first book, but man did The Phoenix Priest change my opinion of him. I totally love Kallias, and his friendship with Elias was one of my favorite parts of this book. I loved watching their friendship grow! These two men go on quite the journey, both physical and mental, together. Elias especially is dealing with his unimaginable grief and a deep depression. I thought that the author did a great job of writing Elias and his despair. Mental health can easily be used as just a plot point or an attention grabber, but Cassidy Clarke incorporated it into the story beautifully.

Finn stole my heart in The Saltwater Heir and he still hasn’t let it go! My sarcastic, fun-loving prince is a bit broken in this book. He is processing his grief and trauma all while dealing with the pressures of being a royal plus insane gods and goddesses. Finn still has his wit and cleverness, but he is much more vulnerable and fragile this time around. This book added more depth to all the characters, but especially Finn. I feel like we are just starting to peel away some of his masks. I just wanted to jump into the pages and give him the biggest hug! And he really needs a hug because his journey in The Phoenix Priest is a rollercoaster.

If you read my review of The Saltwater Heir you know that I love this world that Clarke has crafted. This gorgeous and creative world expands in The Phoenix Priest and we get to discover and learn about so many new places! I found the mountain city in Artem so fascinating, and I was in awe of the Mirrors from Lapis! It looks like we are going to explore even more of this awesome world in the next book and I am so excited!

Now, I bet you’re wondering why I did not give The Phoenix Priest five stars. I absolutely loved it, but the first third-halfish of this book was slow. It took me a bit to really get into the story. However, once it got going I was totally hooked.

The Phoenix Priest ends with another great cliffhanger. It’s not nearly as shocking as The Saltwater Heir, but it is super impactful. This ending really sets up the next story. Our characters are once again scattered and they all have quite the journey ahead. I cannot wait to find out what happens next in book three!

The Phoenix Priest was released April 22nd, 2022.

PS: This awesome series is available on Kindle Unlimited!

Oathbound (The Royal Rose Chronicles, #1) – Victoria McCombs [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Beware the waters. The dangerous deep brings ruin to all.

Emme has spent her life avoiding anything to do with pirates. But the fates are cruel, and now a hidden sickness leads her to partner with pirates for the one thing that can save her—a cure on an island none are certain exists.

The pirate captain’s secrets are darker than the deep and threaten to kill them all. His obligations are tinged with betrayal, for his oathbind must be fulfilled. To ignore it is to invite peril of unimaginable destruction.

As the adventure unfolds, the sea takes more than she expects and the sea gives more than he wants.

Review:

HUGE thank you to Victoria McCombs and Book of Matches Media for sharing this e-ARC with me. The following review reflects my honest reading experience.

I am a massive fan of pirate adventure stories so I knew I had to get my hands Oathbound. This book was seriously so good!

Oathbound has everything! There’s pirates, sea monsters, mermaids, mysterious ships, rival crews, ghosts, treasure, romance, and major suspense plus some seriously high stakes. This with a super mysterious and eerie story had me totally hooked! I was on the edge of my seat! McCombs did such a great job with the world building and creating such a eerie and mysterious atmosphere. This was one of my favorite parts of Oathbound. I loved how spooky and creepy parts were. Especially the black ship slowly stalking the Royal Rose. It was so creepy to imagine the ship getting closer and closer. I could totally see the scene in my mind! I also loved watching Emme grow more comfortable on the ship and start to love the sea. It’s actually funny how much I enjoy these types of stories and scenes because in real life I am petrified of the ocean. It’s so fun to read these scenes like these in Oathbound because I get to live vicariously through the characters and experience the ocean without actually having to go.

The ending of Oathbound was so intense and SO. GOOD. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was so surprised. There were so many great twists. And that cliffhanger?!?! I need book two!!

Here are some other miscellaneous things that I really loved and have to mention. . .

  • The tattoos!!
  • All the different supernatural-esc monsters and creatures the crew encountered.
  • The relationships between the characters. Especially Emme + Emeric, Emme + Arn, and Arn + his crew members.

As you can tell, I highly recommend Oathbound. I loved this story and all the twists. I cannot wait for the sequel!

Oathbound is set to release February 15th, 2022.

Court of Dragons (Dragon Isle Wars, Book 1) – Frost Kay [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

As a daughter of the Dragon Court, Wren knows three truths: never show weakness, pay the tithe, and never trust the elves.

When the enemy strikes on the eve of her wedding, Wren has no choice but to fight. Captured, she’s dragged before the elvish king and given two choices.

Death or marriage.

She submits, biding her time as she plots and spies, determined to strike at the heart of the elvish royalty and take back her family’s throne once more. But the more time she spends with her dangerous and achingly handsome husband, she finds herself wavering.

Only the strong survive the hash moors of the Dragon Isles, and she can’t afford to question her loyalties, leaving only one final choice.

Strike hard and fast. Never waver. It’s his heart or hers.

Review:

Huge thank you to Book of Matches Media & Frost Kay for sharing this e-arc with me. The following honest review reflects my experience reading Court of Dragons! 

When I read the blurb for Court of Dragons I knew I absolutely had to read it. I mean what’s not to love . . . enemies to lovers, arranged marriage, slow burn romance, court politics, and dragons!! I am so excited to say that I absolutely LOVED Court of Dragons! It most definitely lived up to the awesome blurb and gorgeous cover! 

Court of Dragons tells the story of Wren, a princess of the Dragon Isles. Wren had a near perfect life . . . a loving family, an upcoming marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and a dragon companion. All of that is torn away when her home is attacked by the Elves. Wren loses everything and is taken prisoner by elvish Prince Arrick. My heart ached for Wren and all she lost. I really liked Wren. She had lost so much, but still managed to find strength to fight. I loved that she was able to let herself cry and feel her grief.

I absolutely loved the tension between Wren and Arrick. The two enemies are forced into marriage by Arrick’s truly evil father, the Elf King. Arranged marriage and forced proximity are some of my favorite tropes featured in fantasy romance! This plus enemies to lovers and slow burn. SWOON. I will say that Court of Dragons is mostly the build up of the relationship between Wren & Arrick. I have a feeling the actual romance is coming in the upcoming books. My favorite part of this slow burn romance is that Wren does not immediately forgive or jump on Arrick when she began to acknowledge her attraction to him. I really like that the author did not make this into an instant love situation (which often happens in books in this genre). I liked watching their relationship slowly develop. And the tension was so good! I definitely need more interaction between the two of them in the next book. I can’t wait to see what happens next with these two.

The reason why Court of Dragons was a four star read for me was that it felt too short. The story was not long enough and felt a bit rushed. I will say that the ending did work really well. It has me dying to get my hands on the next book!! I need more of this world and these characters. And more dragons!!!

Court of Dragons is set to be released November 11th, 2021.

Remember the Stars (Tales of Selyento, Book 1) – Eris Marriott [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

All Clarisse wants is to be free. Her life has been governed by abuse, control, and the Church of Light. Tired of ritual exorcisms and condemnations, she’s at the brink of exploding.

Her power is a curse—the reason she can’t be free. Clarisse never asked to be in the center of a centuries-long battle between Terrence, a Reaper-wolf gone rogue, and Death, himself.

If she has to spend one more minute under the controlling thumb of her parents and the Church of Light, she’ll die.

In order to escape, she must choose a side: Death is convinced that mortals wielding power is a recipe for disaster and damnation. Terrence believes magic is a mortal’s key to freedom, enlightenment… maybe immortality.

Will she follow the light of the stars? Or will she let herself fall into the grasp of the shadows?

Trigger/Content Warnings: graphic depictions of abuse, violence, and mental manipulation

Review:

Huge thank you to Eris Marriott and Book of Matches Media for sharing this e-arc with me! The following review is my honest opinion and reflects my reading experience.

I hadn’t heard anything about Remember the Stars prior to working with Book of Matches Media. I was super intrigued by the cover and synopsis. This cover is definitely one of my favorites. It is seriously gorgeous!

Remember the Stars is a young adult dark fantasy story that tells the story of Clarisse, a young woman with magic who has been abused her entire life. It is the first book in a new series called Tales of the Selyento. This story was told in two parts . . . the first is Clarisse’s journey to free herself from the abusers in her life + the second is Clarisse trying to decide what path to take and who to trust. I will say everyone needs to take the time to read the trigger/content warnings prior to reading Remember the Stars. I have included the warnings with the synopsis and at the end of my review.

One of the reasons I was so intrigued by the blurb for this book was the darker themes and cult-like elements of the story. It sounds so weird, but I am totally fascinated by true crime and cults. I thought that Eris Marriott did an excellent job of incorporating the cult (The Church of Light) into the story. She did such a great job showing the manipulation of the cult and all of the people/creatures in Clarisse’s life. There were definitely scenes that were difficult to read . . . again please check out the trigger/content warnings. I will say that I struggled with Clarisse and Terrence’s relationship. The whole thing felt very toxic and full of manipulation, but I think that was the author’s intent.

One of the most unique parts of Remember the Stars is Clarisse’s magic. It sounds so pretty!! It also seems to have no limit in terms of what her magic can do. Although, there are consequences for magic. This is a major part of Clarisse’s journey and it definitely kept me on my toes!

I have a couple of qualms . . . actually just one major one . . . the arachnid centaur demon creature. That is something I definitely did not need in my life lol. The author did too good of a job depicting that image!

Remember the Stars was already released and is available for purchase today! It’s also on kindle unlimited!!

Trigger/Content Warnings: graphic depictions of abuse, violence, and mental manipulation

A Dance with the Fae Prince (Married to Magic, #2) – Elise Kova [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

Cinderella meets The Cruel Prince in this stand-alone fantasy romance about a human girl and her marriage to the prince of the fae.

She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?

Review:

Thank you to Elise Kova & Book of Matches Media for sharing this awesome e-arc with me. This honest review is based on my experience reading!

A Dance with the Fae Prince is the second stand-alone novel in Elise Kova’s Married to Magic universe. It is not at all necessary to read A Deal with the Elf King to dive into this book.

A Dance with the Fae Prince is a fantasy romance inspired by Cinderella and the tales of Psyche & Eros. This fun adventure is full of fae and all kinds of magical creatures. I am a sucker for any story featuring fae so I absolutely loved how much fae content there was in ADWTFP. Elise does such an incredible job of painting the picture of the fae world and all the different characters. From the first moment we see the group of fae dancing around the fire I was totally captured by Elise’s vivid descriptions and imagery. There are so many great characters, but Raph is definitely my favorite fae. He’s such an adorable and mischievous young fae boy!

Ultimately, I thought that A Dance with the Fae Prince was just okay. The story was very slow and not much happened throughout the book. Despite the story being slow, the actual progression of events was strange. A lot more time had actually passed than I thought. For example, at one point Katria describes how she’s been in the fae world for weeks. I honestly had no idea it had been that long. It seemed like it should have only been days. The pacing was just off. The plot itself was also very predictable. I wasn’t surprised by any of the twists or the ending.

There were some very powerful quotes that I did really love . . .

“I vow then that I will never let this new husband or anyone else make me feel small. I will try with all my might to stand tall. I will never live cowering again.”

“Love is the closest thing we have to meaning in this world. The love of a mother for her children, the love between friends, the love of a husband and wife, love for who we are and all those who strove before us to hand us the world we have now — love is why we live, why we fight, why we carry on when things get tough . . . it is not always easy. But it is our reprieve from true hardship, not the hardship itself.”

“Because now you know this is how you should have been treated all along. Because you know that if one person sees you, respects you as they should, then there’s no excuse for anyone else not to. The fault does not lie–has never lain–with you, but rather the shortcomings of those you have been surrounded by. You were always worthy.”

Overall I enjoyed A Dance with the Fae Prince. It was nothing super exciting or original, but it was fun. If you’re looking for a quick read featuring all sorts of magical creatures then I’d definitely check ADWTFP out!

A DANCE WITH THE FAE PRINCE IS SET TO BE RELEASED AUGUST 19TH.

On These Black Sands (Aisling Sea, #1) – Vanessa Rasanen [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

AN HEIR ON THE RUN

In one month, Aoife Cascade will turn twenty and take her seat on the Council of Cregah, an honor she’s been preparing for her whole life. But when she lets a secret slip to her mother with devastating consequences, all her plans for the future crumble. Believing her people to be better off without her, she flees Cregah, stowing away aboard a pirate ship bound for dangerous waters.

A PIRATE CAPTAIN WHO NEEDS HER HELP

Captain Declan McCallagh is young compared to the pirate lords, but after twelve years on the grueling sea, he has earned a well-respected ship and the attention of the lords, who’d like nothing better than to see his ruin. All he wants is to leave the Aisling Sea-and his past-behind him. But when his sister demands he find the enchanted dagger her rebel faction needs to overthrow the ruling Council, he’ll have to decide whether to cast off all family ties or take the perilous voyage to waters guarded by sirens, only passable with the help of the last remaining fae, currently imprisoned by the Council.

With murder and betrayal at every turn, can Aoife and Declan learn to rely on one another?

Or will the secrets they carry destroy their people-and each other?

Review:

Massive thank you to Vanessa Rasanen and Book of Matches Media for sending me this e-arc! All opinions are my own.

So I had been hearing rumblings about On These Black Sands for a while and I was definitely intrigued. And then the fates aligned and I was able to sign up for the ARC tour with Book of Matches Media. I was so excited to be chosen and to get my hands on an early copy of this incredible book.

On These Black Sands is a fantasy pirate adventure full of snarky characters, swoon-worthy pirates, and an absolutely fascinating world that I am dying to learn more about. There’s swashbuckling adventures, political intrigue, romance, betrayal, and some truly crazy twists!

On These Black Sands is primarily told through two perspectives: Aoife and Declan. Aoife is a naive young woman and former heir whose entire world has just been shattered. Declan is a young pirate captain desperate to prove himself and keep his painful memories at bay. These two characters have a magnetic pull to each other. Their connection was evident from the first time they meet and it only grew with each interaction. On These Black Sands is an excellent slow burn romance. It takes a while and we really only get a taste, but I can’t wait for more of Aoife and Declan. One of my favorite things about their relationship is that there’s an instant attraction and connection, but they don’t act on it. No instant love here! Aoife and Declan spend countless hours just talking and getting to know one another. This builds on their initial connection and creates such a beautiful bond. Some of my favorite scenes were just Aoife and Declan together in the captain’s quarters. I adore their sassy banter!! Plus there’s an “only one bed” trope which is one of my favorites! Not to mention . . . Declan is totally swoon-worthy!

There are also a few side characters who I am dying to get to know more. AKA TOMMY! I can’t wait to get more of him (and the rest of the crew) in the next book. There’s also Declan’s sister, Cait, who has a few of her own POV chapters that were super intriguing. I really want to know more about Cait and her rebel group, the rogues. My one complaint about On These Black Sands is that I wanted more. Cait’s chapters and story arc were all very vague. I feel like I still don’t really know what her purpose with the rogues is and who they really are. I’m guessing that this is all coming in the upcoming books.

On These Black Sands is definitely a “set-up” book. What I mean by this is that there is a whole lot that is introduced and that I am dying to know more about. There is action, adventure, and more, but there is a lot of world-building and set up for the rest of the series. I was totally captivated by this story and I cannot wait to continue on this adventure with Declan, Aoife, and the crew of the Siren’s Song. There is so much more coming in the rest of the series. I am especially looking forward to more of the fantasy elements (the fae, magic dagger, etc.) coming into play.

The ending of On These Black Sands is epic. The twists and cliffhanger are crazy and have me so dang excited for the next book in this series. That cliffhanger is perfect. I don’t know how I am going to wait to find out what happens next. Curse of being an early reader, I guess?

Some random things that I loved about On These Black Sands:

  • The colorful and vibrant towns. Vanessa’s writing is so descriptive and vivid. I loved the imagery!
  • The Irish influence!! My last name is McCarthy so I love the Irish inspiration! I will say that I am so grateful that Vanessa included a pronunciation guide.
  • Anxiety and panic attack representation. I love seeing mental health rep in fantasy books. As someone who also struggles with generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks, I truly appreciated the way Vanessa depicted Aoife’s anxiety.

On These Black Sands is a fantastic book! I was hooked from the very beginning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! If you love pirates, a good slow burn romance, well written characters, and fascinating world building then you should definitely check out On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen!

On These Black Sands is set to release August 10th, 2021. Preorder your copy today!!

The Heir (The Royal Three, #1) – Benét Stoen [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️✨/⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Three rulers.
Two sides.
One plot for revenge.
Welcome to the Kingdom of Lavdia.

In a village all but forgotten by the country’s rulers, Finn leads two lives. One of a simple country doctor, and the other of a smuggler with cargo of a rare variety: Wielders, a nearly extinct race of people born with the ability to control Magic. With their rights being threatened by the very people in power meant to protect them, the Wielders see Finn as their last chance for a better life. But when Finn is abducted and blackmailed into the service of a vengeful royal, his loyalty, and his heart, will be put to the ultimate test.

On a throne miles away, Andromeda, selected at birth to inherit the role of Mother Queen and continue her family’s royal line, has waited years for her chance to exact revenge on those who stole her freedom and tore her family apart. But she can’t do it alone. With the help of a handsome and intriguing young doctor, she will right the wrongs committed against her, and forge a path of a most gloriously scarlet retribution.

With the fate of their kingdom hanging in the balance, these two unlikely allies must navigate an intricate web of political rivalries and long-buried secrets in order to achieve their goals. But as hidden plots unfold and the true rot at the heart of the country is revealed, what starts as a quest for justice spirals into a desperate game of survival.

This first installment of an epic new trilogy from the author that brought you “His and Mine” will leave you breathless and haunted long after the final page is turned.

Review:

Huge thank you to Benét Stoen for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. I received an email from Benet with the first chapter of her new book, The Heir, and I was totally hooked!

This is a difficult one for me to review because I really enjoyed the concept and the story, but I didn’t love how it was written. I truly did enjoy this story! The concept behind The Heir is totally unique and definitely captivated me. This story was a quick and easy read!

My main issues with The Heir all revolve around the development and pacing of the story. The entirety of the plot felt very point A to point B . . . almost like an outline. It felt like everything that happened was very clinical. Thing A happened then thing B then C with nothing happening in between. I wanted more interaction between the characters, more daily life, and much more world-building. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think all of the plot points were exciting and super interesting. I just wish there was more in between. This caused me to feel very disconnected from the characters. I knew them in each event, but never outside of this. What does Finn get up to when he’s not helping Andromeda? Does Angelus ever explore? What were his journeys like to check on Veronica? Again, the best way I can describe The Heir is that it was like an outline . . . all the plot points laid out with none of the extra content added in between. I just wanted more!

I will say that I am very impressed with the author’s ability to write mental illness. There are characters who suffer from depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideations. Stoen wrote this in a respectful way without any judgment. There were definitely scenes that were difficult to read though. Check out my trigger warnings at the end of this post.

I also was not sold on the pacing. The plot seemed rushed. This was especially true for the ending. Everything became kind of jumbled at the end and I’m not sure if the author intended this or not. The story felt like it took a hard left into a different direction when Andromeda began to see things.

The Heir felt more like a first or second draft rather than a final finished book. I loved the author’s ideas and concepts, but I think it wasn’t executed in the best way. This is all my personal opinion and it seems like most on goodreads have absolutely loved this book!

That all being said, I did like the cliffhanger ending! I definitely want to know who was behind it and what it all means. I am curious to see what happens next. I really did enjoy this story and the unique world + concept.

The Heir TRIGGER WARNINGS: depression, suicidal ideation, sexual abuse/rape, self harm, PTSD

The Heir is set to be released July 14th!

Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1) – Elizabeth Lim [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

A princess in exile, a shapeshifting dragon, six enchanted cranes, and an unspeakable curse… Drawing from fairy tales and East Asian folklore, this original fantasy from the author of Spin the Dawn is perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone.

“A dazzling fairytale full of breathtaking storytelling.” – Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval.

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

Weaving together elements of The Wild Swans, Cinderella, the legend of Chang E, and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Elizabeth Lim has crafted a fantasy like no other, and one that will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Review:

Huge thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s and Netgalley for providing this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. I was a huge fan of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim so I was thrilled to see she was coming out with a new book! Six Crimson Cranes immediately grabbed my attention with that absolutely G O R G E O U S cover! I could seriously stare at it all day. Major props to the cover artist!

Overall, I really enjoyed Six Crimson Cranes! It is part fantasy part fairytale that features East Asian folklore and tells a truly beautiful story. Elizabeth Lim is a fantastic storyteller. My favorite part of Six Crimson Cranes was the imagery and setting. Every single scene . . . from the snowy mountain view in Iro to the nettles on Mount Rayuna and even Raikama’s garden . . . was stunningly crafted. I am in awe of Lim’s ability to create a scene and truly pull the reader in.

I also really loved Shiori’s interactions with the dragons plus her relationship with her brothers. I was initially a bit concerned about this story because there were several plot points that seemed to be very similar to those in Spin the Dawn. Both books feature a female lead with brothers + the female lead is on a mission to craft/sew/weave a magical object in order to save her family. I’m happy to say that the similarities ended there.

The reason that Six Crimson Cranes was only 3.5 stars for me was the pacing. The first part of the book was good, but it didn’t really capture my interest. It wasn’t until Shiori arrives in Iro that I was fully hooked by the story. The climax and last part of the story were so exciting and had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t surprised by any of the twists or the ending, but I still was totally captivated. However, the last line of the book totally blew me away because I did not see that coming.


Six Crimson Cranes was a really good story that featured some truly beautiful scenery. If you are a fan of Spin the Dawn then I definitely recommend this one. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book!

SIX CRIMSON CRANES BY ELIZABETH LIM IS SET TO BE RELEASED JULY 6TH, 2021.

The Saltwater Heir – Cassidy Clarke [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Princess Soren of Nyx is no stranger to loss after a decade-long war with the neighboring kingdom of Atlas. But with her best friend slowly succumbing to a cruel Atlas poison, she hatches a reckless plan: kidnap the enemy prince from the battlefield and use his life to barter for the antidote.

But when that prince calls her by a different name…the name of his sister, whose death began the war ten years ago…everything changes.

Stolen away to Atlas, trapped behind enemy lines, Soren must navigate a kingdom she knows nothing about, surrounded by a family she doesn’t remember, and work to hunt down the antidote only Atlas possesses, all while strange memories fight to take over-memories of a different life, a different home, a different girl.

And memories aren’t the only thing awakened by Soren’s return. Dark, forbidden magics begin to stir, threatening both her new life and her old. With death stalking in every shadow, the lost princess must fight harder and sacrifice more than she ever dreamed to save what she holds most dear.

Review:

Huge thank you to Sapphire Ink Press and Cassidy Clarke for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

When I first heard about The Saltwater Heir through Sapphire Ink Press I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis. I signed up for the cover reveal and was then blown away by this S T U N N I N G cover. With that cover + synopsis I knew I absolutely had to read The Saltwater Heir!!

The Saltwater Heir is Cassidy Clarke’s debut novel and it is phenomenal! This book is magical, unique, and totally captivating. This was just the fantasy refresher I needed. A lot of YA fantasy feels the same these days, but TSH blew me away. The writing is stunning and the world building is so well done. The Saltwater Heir is NA fantasy but so much more . . . there’s mystery, romance, and familial bonds. All set in an epic world that is full of magic and lore!

The Saltwater Heir tells the story of Soren, the princess of Nyx. Through a series of events, Soren discovers that she is actually the long thought dead princess from the rival kingdom, Atlas. Soren must deal with her new identity and the life she knew, plus get to know a whole new family and kingdom all while trying to save her best friend. Soren’s memories slowly awaken, but dark magic also begins to stir in Atlas.

The Saltwater Heir is told through multiple points of view . . . Soren/Soriel, Elias, Kallias, and Finn. Sometimes too many POVs can be distracting and pull the reader away from the story, but this was absolutely not the case here. There was absolutely no break in the flow. Each POV added so much to the story and allowed me to get to know the characters so much more! Each POV offered a different perspective to the events happening in the palace which really elevated the story. My favorite POV is definitely Finn. He’s also my favorite character. I saw a review that described Finn as Nikolai Lanstov meets Loki and this is so perfect. Finn is so loveable and witty. I looked forward to every scene that involved him.

I also really enjoyed Soren/Soriel’s POV and character. I especially love her relationship with Finn. The Atlas siblings are all fantastic and I love the dynamic between them, but there’s just something extra special about Finn and Soren/Soriel. I definitely have fallen the Atlas siblings!

The Saltwater Heir also features a mix of present day with flashbacks and memories. I really liked how Clarke wove in these memories into the story so seamlessly. A huge part of TSH is Soren’s journey to discover her identity and come to terms with her past and present. She has to find a way to love and accept both parts of herself . . . the Nyxian raised with the Atlas born. I loved going on this journey with her and I truly felt like I was there. I really felt like I was with all the characters . . . Finn as he explores the city streets, Kallias as he struggles with his duties, Elias as he comes to term with his fate. Every single character’s arc and journey is vital to the story!

Really quick before I wrap things up, I have to touch on the world-building and imagery. This world is beautiful! Atlas, with its beaches and festivals was especially gorgeous. I could totally picture everything as it happened. I definitely want to visit! Which brings me to the downright creepy part of The Saltwater Heir . . . necromancy! Clarke did a brilliant job writing the scenes with the army of the dead. She depicted it so well that I was totally creeped out! Especially a certain scene in Soren’s room! I am so impressed with Clarke’s world building and ability to create such strong imagery!

The last part of The Saltwater Heir tore my heart out and put me through an emotional rollercoaster. I truly did not see the twists coming. I figured out a small part of the big reveal, but I had no idea the extent of it. My jaw kept dropping with each twist! Even though it hurt, the ending was totally epic. And the cliffhanger has me dying for the sequel!

As you can probably tell I LOVED this book! The Saltwater Heir is a fantastic debut (seriously I’m so impressed with Cassidy Clarke!) that is a refreshing YA fantasy full of magic, twists, and incredible characters. I highly recommend this book!

THE SALTWATER HEIR IS SET TO BE RELEASED JUNE 25TH, 2021.