Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…”

REVIEW:

I picked up Kingdom of the Wicked after seeing it all over Bookstagram. I was definitely sucked in by the premise and very excited to read. I’m honestly still not quite sure where I land on Kingdom of the Wicked. There were a lot of things I really loved about this book, but it still had its problems.

Emilia is a great female lead and really comes into her own over the course of this book. This is a revenge story, and it was great to read a complicated female lead. Emilia is driven to find out who murdered her sister and will do anything she has to solve this mystery. Her and Wrath’s chemistry is there from the very beginning. Their banter and bickering is amazing and creates such an interesting dynamic. It becomes obvious that they both develop a soft spot for each other, which will be exciting to see handled as the series continues.

The world-building involving the witches and demons was very exciting and well done. However, the world-building of 19th century Italy was really lacking. I felt like the author would throw in an Italian word just to remind the reader. It also took me a while to get into this book. I actually enjoyed the setup, but then once Emilia summoned Wrath I felt like the pacing fell apart. It did pick back up once a little further, but ultimately overall felt like a setup for what is to come.

Overall, I do think Kingdom of the Wicked stands out from other YA fantasy series. I’m excited to see where the series goes and I do think it has a lot of potential.

RATING: 3.5/5

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February Releases to Get Excited About

I can’t believe January is almost over. A new month mean new releases! There are a ton of releases happening in February, below are just a couple that I am excited for…

# 1 – A Court of Silver and Flames by Sarah J. Maas (February 16, 2021)

A Court of Silver Flames is the first spin-off book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.  It is set after the events of A Court of Frost and Starlight and is told in the perspectives of Nesta and Cassian.

I feel like this is on everyone’s TBR. I pre-ordered my copy just last week, and I’m starting to get more excited as the date gets closer. Honestly, for me this is kind of a mixed bag. I love this series because I love Feyre and Rhysand. I don’t really care about Nesta, so it should be an interesting read.

#2 – The Gilded Ones by Namina Foma (February 9, 2021)

Sixteen-year-old Deka seeks acceptance and absolution. Every year adolescent girls in the patriarchal kingdom of Otera prepare for the Ritual of Purity that determines whether they can join their communities as pure-blooded women or be cast out and branded impure monsters. Brown-skinned, gray-eyed Deka yearns to prove she belongs, but when her blood runs gold, she’s revealed to be an alaki—a near-immortal woman warrior—and is carted away to become the front line of defense for the people who’ve discarded her.

Honestly, this book sounds incredible and seems like the start of an exciting new fantasy series.

#3 – A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett (February 9, 2021)

“What is a Victorian lady’s formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry–it’s elemental.”

A Victorian bodyguard romance novel, sign me up! I am so excited for this book.

#4 – Muse by Brittany Cavallaro (February 2, 2021)

American Royals meets The Winner’s Curse in the first book of bestselling author Brittany Cavallaro’s new duology, set in an alternate history American monarchy where a girl grapples for control of her own life in the middle of a looming war.”

I really love takes on alternate history. This book sounds super interesting and honestly, the cover along sucks me in.

#5 – A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (February 23, 2021)

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.

A new exciting fantasy series, that helps to make the fantasy genre more inclusive.

#6 – Into the Dark by Claudia Gray (February 2, 2021)

“Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy….”

Lucasfilm launched their new series of novels taking place in the High Republic Days in January. I’m very excited for this new series and Claudia Gray has written some of my favorite Star Wars novels.

Now I’ll be adding all of these books to my ever growing TBR! Follow along on my Instagram!


Review: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…”

REVIEW:

I was excited to dive back into the Luxen world. I always get completely sucked into Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books even if sometimes they are somewhat predictable. The Darkest Star hit a lot of the same beats as Obsidian (The first book in the Lux series), but I still enjoyed it.

The Darkest Star is set 4 years after the events of the Lux series. It was interesting to see how the world has changed since the big Lux invasion and the trauma the world as a whole is dealing with since everything changed. I figured out the big twist involving Evie pretty early on, but still enjoyed how it was handled. I also felt like the ending was kinda blah. We had this big and suspenseful build-up and then just nothing. Obviously, the book is setting up for the series to come but I wish the ending had built to a better climax. I also grew frustrated with the running pattern of someone sitting down with Evie, telling her a bunch of things, then something big happens, so they sit Evie down again and tell her okay we didn’t tell you everything before so here is more of an info dump. After it happened like 3 times, I was just annoyed because it felt lazy.

I also enjoyed the little peeks at what Katy, Daemon, and Archer were doing sprinkled throughout the novel. There is a part of me that hopes they will have a bigger role to play further in the series.

Overall, I enjoyed The Darkest Star. It is a great edition to the Lux series and I’m excited to see what happens to this new cast of characters.

RATING: 3/5

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Review: The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.”

REVIEW:

The Dating Plan was my Book of the Month choice for January, and just what I needed. The first week of January was chaotic to say the least. So every time I went to pick up a book, I was pretty distracted and couldn’t focus. I needed something more lighthearted. This book was perfect.

The Dating Plan has fake fiancé’s, fake marriage, and a woman who loves a good spreadsheet. Daisy is a software engineer, nerdy, but still sexy which was wonderful to read. Liam and Daisy have wonderful chemistry and their banter was perfect. Both of their families are well-rounded and feel incredibly real. (Daisy’s Aunties steal the show.) This book was everything I could want in a romantic comedy. I did find some of the plot, especially toward the end, a bit predictable but it didn’t really hinder the story for me. Sara Desai’s sense of humor is incredible and is a definite highlight of this book.

This book sucked me in with its gorgeous and colorful cover, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Dating Plan was an early release as a part of Book of the Month. It will be available to the general public in March. I definitely recommend it if you are a RomCom lover.

RATING: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday – January 13th, 2021

It’s Wednesday which means another WWW Wednesday. I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share on your own blog!

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Fire Falling by Elise Kova (Book #2 in the Air Awakens series). Super excited to see what happens next in this series. It has similar vibes to the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. So if you are looking for something to fill that hole, I recommend this series.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished The Dating Plan by Sara Desai. It was my January choice for Book of the Month and an early release. It goes on sale to the general public in March. I absolutely loved this book. It was exactly what I needed to start off the year, and a distraction from the chaos of the first week of January. I definitely recommend this book!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think my next read will probably be The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout. It is a spinoff of The Lux series, which I finished last year. I’m excited to see where this spinoff series goes. Honestly, though my mood has been all over the place so far this January and I haven’t really been able to stick to the books I’ve been picking.

Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading?

Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3) by Laura Thalassa

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“For Callypso Lillis, the fae magic that now runs through her veins is equal parts curse and good fortune. For the very thing that bonds her to Desmond Flynn, the King of the Night, also makes her vulnerable to the Thief of Souls, a man who wants to break the world … and Callie along with it.

But it’s not just the Thief whose shadow looms over the Otherworld. Des’s father is back from the dead, and he wants revenge on the son who sent him to the grave in the first place.

Des and Callie must figure out how to stop both men, and time is running out. Because there are forces at play working to tear the lovers apart once and for all … and unfortunately for them, death is no longer the worst thing to fear.”

REVIEW:

So I picked up Dark Harmony right away because I just needed to know how this series ended. While the strong points in this series remain, I was disappointed with how this book ended.

Dark Harmony starts off with a bang. Callie is dealing with the fact that she was on death’s door, but has now been brought back to life and made fae by the lilac wine. After a conversation with Des and coming to an understanding with Des, screams begin to erupt around the castle. The sleeping soldiers have awoken, it is an ambush. War has come to the Otherworld, and Callie and Des need to figure out how to stop the Thief of Souls.

Callie and Des’s relationship is the strongest thing about this series. I love that their relationship isn’t cookie cutter, there is a darkness to it. They are partners and you can feel their love throughout this book and series. However, their all consuming relationship actually hurts the plot of Dark Harmony. Don’t get me wrong, I love smut as much as the next person but Callie and Des go on a vacation while a war is happening. The Thief of Souls is targeting Callie. Callie and Des are the only two who are going to be able to stop him. Two kingdoms have fallen and the sleeping army is destroying the Otherworld, yet Callie and Des just keep going for random romps around the world. It just felt so completely unbelievable. I also couldn’t really deal with every time the Thief of Souls appeared, telling Callie all the ways he wanted to rape and torture her. Like we get it, he’s despicable.

The ending doesn’t really make sense, and feels like a cop-out. This might change once I sit on this book for a couple more days. There still wasn’t any character development for Temper. I wish we had gotten a bit more of the outcome of the Otherworld, now that evil has been vanquished. I do absolutely adore how the Epilogue ended.

Overall, this was a disappointing ending. There was so much build up into how all powerful the Thief of Souls was, that the final resolution didn’t live up. I still love Callie and Des, their relationship is the soul of this book.

RATING: 3/5

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Review: City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?”

REVIEW:

Alright, I have to be honest it was a real struggle to read and finish City of Ashes. I think the flow was much better than City of Bones, but overall I just didn’t like this book.

Jace is not a likeable character, and look I know that these first three books are largely based off a Harry Potter fanfiction that Cassandra Clare wrote. That Jace was Draco, but here’s the thing Draco wasn’t the romantic lead. I just have a big problem with him in general. I don’t really understand how no one has taken Clary under their wing and started training her. Like obviously, there are much bigger things happening in the world with Valentine wanting to start a war; however Clary keeps involving herself in these issues. It would probably be helpful if she knew a bit more about fighting and the Shadowhunter world. Also, there were too many Simon is dead fake outs in this book.

Let’s get to the real problem though…it’s the incest! Everyone is under the impression that Clary and Jace are siblings. It has been revealed at the end of the previous book. Obviously, it is a bit awkward them having kissed prior, but we can write that off. We can’t write them off making out in the fairy kingdom, super gross. The absolute biggest problem I had though was in an honest conversation that Clary is having with Luke about his relationship with her mother, she thinks “I do still love Jace, damn society I’m going to be with him anyway.” She then runs to Jace to declare her feelings, when Jace tells her, “We are brother and sister. We can’t do this.” Cassandra Clare, are you implying that I should also feel devastated along with Clary? Because that’s what the tone of this book suggests, and I really absolutely hate it.

Look, I straight up didn’t like this book and honestly I’m really hoping that it gets better from here. I knew about the faux incest plot going into this series, but I didn’t think there would be this much emphasis on it, my mistake. I’m going to power through this next book and hopefully we start to see some improvement.

RATING: 1/5

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WWW Wednesday – January 6, 2021

Happy New Year! It is the first Wednesday of the new year, which means another WWW Wednesday. I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share on your own blog!

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Dark Harmony by Laura Thalassa. It is the third book in the Bargainer Series. I am completely loving this series! It is a fantasy romance, so I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for their next read after From Blood & Ash or the ACOTAR series.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu. This was the first Shadowhunters novel I actually really enjoyed. I had some issues with the first three Mortal Instruments novels. This book didn’t focus on Clary and Jace which is probably why I enjoyed it. I’ve been reading the Shadowhunters novels in the order that Cassandra Clare suggests, which gave a nice break from the Mortal Instruments series. I plan on taking a break from the Shadowhunters novels for all of January, but we will see if that changes.

What do you think you’ll read next?

My next read will be Fable by Adrienne Young. I’m super excited to read this book! It has been all over bookstagram, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things. Also I’m obsessed with the book cover. It is absolutely stunning. I received it for Christmas and I hope it lives up to the hype!

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought!

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January TBR

Happy 2021! I hope everyone is having a safe and healthy start to the new year. Obviously a lot of 2021 is going to look like 2020, but don’t worry we still have books to keep us company!

I am a mood reader by nature, but I also have a ton of unread books sitting on my shelves. So I need to plan out at least some of my reads for the month.

#1 – Fable by Adrienne Young

This book has been all over bookstagram and I’m very excited to start reading this.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

#2 – The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

As I’ve said before I’m a sucker for a good romance novel, and look at that gorgeous cover. This was my Book of the Month choice for January and I think it will be a nice little interlude between the amount of Fantasy novels I read every month.

“Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiances might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.”

#3 – The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I am super excited to return to the Lux universe, and start this series. I really enjoyed the Lux series, and the world was so different than the things I normally read.

“#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.”

What are you reading in January? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2) by Laura Thalassa

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Siren and soulmate to the King of Night, Callypso Lillis survived the clutches of Karnon, the mad king, and his twisted prison. But the nightmare isn’t over. Callie wears the physical reminders of her time as a captive, and mounting evidence suggests the Thief of Souls is still out there.

When a fae celebration thrusts Callie and her mate, Desmond Flynn, into the Kingdom of Flora, they take their investigation with them. But under the bright lights and striking blooms of the realm, they find there are more immediate issues to deal with. No place is more uniquely savage than the great fae halls, and no amount of bargains can save Callie from royal intrigues.

Fairies play dangerous games. Some want love, some want vengeance, some want flesh, and some want things too unspeakable to utter. One thing is for sure: no one is who they appear to be. Not even Des, who only grows more enigmatic with every passing secret.

But the Kingdom of Flora has its own secrets, from bleeding trees to branded slaves and missing guards. Something is stirring in the land of all that grows, and if Callie isn’t careful, it will claim everything and everyone she loves—and her along with it.”

REVIEW:

It seems like once I pick up a book in The Bargainer Series, I can’t put it down. Just like Rhapsodic, I spent a couple of late nights reading A Strange Hymn. Just like the first book, the topics of rape, sexual assault, and abuse, in general, are recurring topics throughout this book.

A Strange Hymn picks up right where Rhapsodic left off. Callie has been rescued from the Kingdom of the Fauna, but now has to come to terms with the both mental and physical ramifications of her abduction. Callie also finds herself having to adjust to the fae world. Being Desmond’s mate means a lot of change for Callie, in a world that considers her an outsider. On top of that, Callie and Desmond still don’t have answers to the mystery surrounding the female soldiers trapped in an eternal sleep.

I really love Callie, she is able to be both strong and vulnerable. We really see her work through some stuff in this book, and I do think that Desmond is a good partner for her. I do wish he was a bit more forth-coming at times, but I get that he is a centuries-old fairy who has some trust issues. One of my big issues with the first book was that, for me, there wasn’t enough world-building. That problem was solved in this book. We were given a ton more detail about the Otherworld.

One issue did still lingers for me and it is that outside of Callie and Des, the characters aren’t very well developed. Temper is a big problem for me. She is Callie’s best friend, but she just feels like a caricature of a sassy best friend. Another issue was that I felt like this book moved a lot slower in the beginning. With Rhapsodic, I was hooked from the start. A Strange Hymn took a while to get to the action, but once the plot moved to the Flora Kingdom I was hooked.

Overall, A Strange Hymn is exactly what I’m looking for in a fantasy romance book. A strong heroine, a handsome romantic lead, and a good amount of smut. I have already downloaded Dark Harmony and will be reading it soon.

RATING: 4/5

If you have Kindle Unlimited, the entire Bargainer Series is available there!

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