Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim | a review showcasing my love for this duology

Hi everyone!

I hope everyreader has been staying safe, healthy, and well during these times. ❤ I’m so excited to review UNRAVEL THE DUSK, the sequel – and conclusion – of Elizabeth Lim’s series, The Blood of Stars, which has inspirations from Chinese culture. I remember enjoying the first book, SPIN THE DAWN (and you can find my review here!), but the sequel blew me away. Maia steps aside from her seamstress role of the first book on an adventure to save her country, and herself.

If this format looks a bit different to you, that’s because this was originally supposed to be a blog tour stop. However, I decided to rescind my tour stop given recent events related to the tour company. Nonetheless, I’m happy to bring attention to this wonderful conclusion!

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Unravel the Dusk
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars #2
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Maia Tamarin proved her skill as a tailor when she wove the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but it will take more than a beautiful gown to hide the darkness rising up within her. . . . The stakes are higher than ever in this breathtaking sequel to Spin the Dawn, perfect for fans of Six of Crows.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. Edan, the boy she loves, is gone–perhaps forever–and no sooner does she set foot in the Autumn Palace than she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace. When the emperor’s rivals learn of her deception, there is hell to pay, but the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red; losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, and in the meantime she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

I had the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars with me: three pieces of magic as old as the world itself. I just hadn’t known how to use them – until now.

UNRAVEL THE DUSK was a magical, fulfilling conclusion to this beautiful fantasy duology that seeks inspiration from Asian cultures. The most notable one is a reference to a well-loved Chinese folktale, which really resonated with me. Readers will love Maia’s story as she battles the demon within her and fights for her country and people!

Continue reading “Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim | a review showcasing my love for this duology”

Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven Review | When The Dragonshifter Hunter Becomes The Hunted

43401514. sx318 Dragon Unleashed
Author: Grace Draven
Series: The Fallen Empire #2
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Ace
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it’s far more than what it seems.

Dragas haven’t been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They’re wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him–unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.

Unbeknownst to both, the Empire’s twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire’s machinations and his own lethal birthright.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Check out my review on GoodReads over here!

3.5 STARS for a beautiful love story between a healer with Earth magic and a dragon that can bring lightning to his foes.

I was SO HYPED for this book, because I absolutely devoured the previous book of the series PHOENIX BOUND and adored it. While DRAGON UNLEASHED follows a different couple and storyline, it starts right off after the end of book 1. And let me say first: the energy is VERY different. PHOENIX BOUND is brutal and vicious, with a lot of action and violence. DRAGON UNLEASHED is about a healer, and thus has calmer moments, traveling, and dialogue, rather than straight-out battles. I would warn readers to be aware of that before starting DRAGON UNLEASHED, and with expectations that it’ll be like book 1. Different characters = different ways to outline the story. While I’m enjoying this world and lore, DRAGON UNLEASHED follows the same meandering pace that book 1 had, where the middle section dragged for quite some time without an actual progression in plot. I’m all about character interactions and development, but that seemed a bit stagnant as well. And while I love every page immersed in this world, I couldn’t help but feel my attention slip in the middle. Other than that, I enjoyed the rest of the book mightily and thought it was a solid sequel. Book 1 was definitely a bit more impactful for me, but DRAGON UNLEASHED was on the quieter and calmer side, and still as lovely and wonderful.

We begin with a hunt. Continue reading “Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven Review | When The Dragonshifter Hunter Becomes The Hunted”

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa Review | Beautiful Ending to a Beautiful YA Fantasy Trilogy

41733219. sy475 Night of the Dragon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Shadow of the Fox #3
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Check out my review on GoodReads over here!

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the finale to this trilogy since devouring book two, and I have to say, Kagawa delivers. It was easy to pick up the storyline again and this book eventually became an extended version of the final, epic battle between malicious yokai (monsters) and the safety of the world.

Quick note: If you haven’t read this series yet, I would recommend you checking out my review of book 1 over here. I gave it 4.5 stars and drew fan art! I also have a fan cast of the characters in my review of book 2 over here. This #ownvoices YA fantasy trilogy, inspired by Japanese folklore, follows a quick-witted kitsune on her quest to protect the dragon scroll that can release a dangerous wish into the world. Accompanying her is a super, diverse cast of characters that you fall in love with. Continue reading “Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa Review | Beautiful Ending to a Beautiful YA Fantasy Trilogy”

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke Review | Another YA Fantasy Rebellion?!

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Of Silver and Shadow
Author: Jennifer Gruenke
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: Flux
Get it Here: AmazonBook Depository

Synopsis:

Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.
One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Check out my review on GoodReads over here!

It’s tough to write a book about overthrowing an already-established rule. That’s why so many fantasies, YA or otherwise, are released in trilogies or a series. For Of Silver and Shadow to successfully write a well-planned rebellion, with multiple parties involved and fleshed-out characterizations, in one book? That’s really impressive to me, and one of the reasons why this book and I just clicked. I don’t think the premise is anything special: random thief girl is a silver wielder in a kingdom where only royals can wield silver. Rich rebel leader persuades her to help their cause for money, and she goes begrudgingly because she needs that money for a hidden altruistic reason. On the other side, we have the POV’s of a trained soldier battling against her heart (with another female soldier) and her loyalty (to the crown), and a young prince that doesn’t know where he wants to go/what he wants to do in life. The background is tried and true, but the narratives that Gruenke writes are just plain GOOD. Honestly, the story could have been longer to flesh things out, but my love for stand-alones (assuming this is) made this the perfect length for me.

We start with the rebels.

Continue reading “Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke Review | Another YA Fantasy Rebellion?!”

From Blood And Ash Review by Jennifer L Armentrout | Taking Paranormal Aspects To Another Level

52831200. sy475 From Blood and Ash
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Release Date: March 30, 2020
Publisher: Blue Box Press
Get it Here: Amazon

Synopsis:

Captivating and action-packed, From Blood and Ash is a sexy, addictive, and unexpected fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Laura Thalassa.

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Check out my review on GoodReads over here!

Imagine throwing in the most addictive parts of paranormal romance books and high fantasy… that baby would be this book, FROM BLOOD AND ASH. If you get get through the heavy monologues and repetitive thoughts of the first half of the book (kudos to Poppy’s first person POV), the book proves to be an entertaining read. But borrowing elements of your standard paranormal books out there make the ‘big twists’ underwhelming. Then again, who reads Armentrout when you’re NOT looking for a special snowflake and a broody love interest? (Also, characters noting the beauty of special snowflake and love interest at least more than 5 times in the book.)

Continue reading “From Blood And Ash Review by Jennifer L Armentrout | Taking Paranormal Aspects To Another Level”

Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser Review: Magnificent Conclusion to A Quiet YA Duology!

34519536Whisper of the Tide
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Series: Book 2
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.

For now, Caro is landlocked, helping Markos reclaim his throne after nearly his entire family was assassinated in a political coup. Without any financial or military support, Markos is desperate for allies, and Caro has fought off more than one attempt on his life. When a powerful Archon offers his army in exchange for Markos’s marriage to his daughter, Caro must choose: Her love for Markos, or the fate of Akhaia? And more importantly: How much is she willing to risk to defy the sea god’s wishes and chart her own course?

With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Note: This is the sequel to Song of the Current, which you can find my review here. It may contain slight spoilers!

Whisper of the Tide was a stunning sequel! I came in with high expectations, and was honestly ready to give it a 3 star midway through the book, no joke. What changed my mind? I could say that the events that happened were pretty awesome, or the resolution was sooo satisfying and lovely, or how the stuff that had me side-eyeing were properly addressed. But I think plain and simple, Tolcser breathed life into Caro’s character and made her resilient, flawed, and just great in general. I adored her from start to finish, mistakes and all. And I hope fans of the book come into Whisper of the Tide with an open mind and heart to Caro’s flaws. Continue reading “Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser Review: Magnificent Conclusion to A Quiet YA Duology!”

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik Review | Another Fairy-Tale Fantasy Hit!

36896898Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

“A moneylender’s daughter, even a bad moneylender, learns her numbers. I wrote and figured and wrote and figured, interest and time broken up by all the little haphazard scattered payments… And when I had my list finished, I took all the knitting out of my bag, put my shawl on, and went out into the cold morning.”

And thus begins Miryem’s beginning as a cold moneylender, and eventually the queen of the cold.

This was another winner from Naomi Novik! After reading and adoring Uprooted when I first started reviewing books (you can find my review here), I was exceptionally eager for Spinning Silver and I was NOT disappointed. While the books are not connected at all, they follow a similar fantastical theme, with the most recent being fairy-tale based. Both books are amazing for different reasons, and I can’t wait for readers to pick up and love Spinning Silver like I did.

Continue reading “Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik Review | Another Fairy-Tale Fantasy Hit!”

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk of Air #1)

26032825The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of Air #1
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review
So the most important question for this book to me is… hype – worth it or nah? For me, the answer is in the middle. There are some parts I liked about The Cruel Prince (namely, the main character), and other parts that fell very flat with me. This book follows the tangled politics and court intrigue of the High Court of Faerie and the human girl that resides there and is ready to rise up in the ranks. There is a bit of a romance (honestly, hardly anything and I’m disappointed that people place so much on it), an intriguing father-daughter relationship, and sisterhood that pushes past certain boundaries. It’s a pretty large book, but in the end I’d say it’s worth the read. Continue reading “Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk of Air #1)”

ARC Review: Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

30339493Isle of Blood and Stone
Author: Makiia Lucier
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Ulises asked, “How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers.”
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. “It’s bound to be a goose chase. You know that?”
“Or a treasure hunt,” Ulises countered, “and you’ve always been good at those.”

Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.

The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Isle of Blood and Stone comes off to me as one of those quieter YA fantasies that are hidden gems. It’s not fast-paced, nor does it have tons of thrilling action. But the characterizations fuel the story as we follow on an 18-year old mystery that needs to be solved. Despite the sedate pace, I enjoyed the emphasis in the story on maps and following the political intrigue within St. John del Mar. There’s a marked focus on character relationships and heading into danger, as well as fantastical elements that add flavor to the story. I’d recommend Isle of Blood and Stone to fantasy readers who don’t mind less action in favor of characterization and solving mysteries. It’s for sure a deviation from the princes and princesses route that YA fantasies like to take. Continue reading “ARC Review: Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier”

Mini-Reviews: Paranormal and Fantasy Romances With A Twist

Both of these books were exciting, thrilling romances with an additional fantastical element to the plot. One takes place in a magical setting, while the other in the undergrounds of a vampire lair. Ultimately they were both 3.5 stars – an awesome, fun, and fluffy time, yet with a bit of pacing issues and lots of cheesy factors. Here we go! Continue reading “Mini-Reviews: Paranormal and Fantasy Romances With A Twist”