Review: The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Asha has been raised on the lore of her kingdom of Firgaard. In it’s heart, it’s a lore of duality.

The stories of the Namsara, the bringer of love and light, and their opposite, the Iskari, the harbinger of death and destruction.

To her people, Asha is the Iskari.

A fierce warrior and slayer of dragons, Asha is treated more as a weapon, than a daughter by her father, the King.

Asha is lonely and feels helpless to control her fate.

She’s engaged to be married to a ruthless commandant in her father’s forces. She feels no love for this man and would do anything to escape that commitment.

When her father offers her a chance of gaining her freedom, she takes it. All she has to do is kill the First Dragon, Kozu. A dragon to whom she is inextricably linked.

Enter her fiancĂ©’s handsome slave, who shows Asha a kindness like she has never known, and you have the perfect mix for disaster.

Going into this novel, I had no idea what to expect. I have owned this book for years and hadn’t really heard any buzz about it.

I was so pleasantly surprised by the fluidity and engaging nature of this narrative.

I was hooked from the very first chapters, falling in love with Asha and her dark, tumultuous life.

In addition to my connection with Asha, I found the side characters and lore of the entire world to be extremely interesting. I loved how Ciccarelli included entire sections dedicated to telling the old stories that Asha had learned in her childhood.

The Last Namsara has romance, action, political intrigue, family drama and more than a few jaw-dropping reveals. In other words, it has everything necessary to keep you fully engaged throughout.

I haven’t read a lot of Dragon Fantasy, but to me, this was incredibly well told. The world felt complete. I could picture it all.

Overall, I was just so impressed with this and tickled pink that I happen to already own the entire trilogy.

I am hoping to start the next novel, The Caged Queen, soon. I cannot wait to return to this world and find out more about this intriguing cast of characters!!

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Review: Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3) by Danielle L. Jensen

Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gilded Serpent is the third installment in Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores series.

Coming in at just under 600-pages, Jensen definitely packed in a lot of information, action and startling revelations.

With this series, if you aren’t aware, you can read the first two books in any order. Meaning you can read either Dark Shores, or Dark Skies first, followed by the other.

I personally read them in publication order and would recommend that to others.

I felt like Dark Shores established the setting and functionality of the world perfectly. After reading that one, I had a strong hold on the type of series this was going to turn out to be.

It’s one that channels all the brutality of Ancient Rome, mixed with a fair amount of magic and heavy doses of political intrigue. Also, let’s not forget the sweet romance.

In Dark Shores, the action centers around Teriana and Marcus. In Dark Skies, we follow Lydia and Killian.

Gilded Serpent follows all four of these characters as their storylines begin to merge more and more.

Through the first two books, I became quite attached to all four of these main characters. Because of that, my excitement level for this release was heightened even more.

As I have mentioned in my previous reviews for this series, including the prequel, Tarnished Empire, I love this series and think it is incredibly underrated. All YA Fantasy lovers need to check this one out!

I did rate this book slightly lower than the first two books, mainly because it wasn’t as easy for me to follow, or stay as fully engaged with this one.

I think the length started to get to me, as well as the sheer volume of information that Jensen packed into this one. Also, I did have some issues at the beginning remembering what had happened at the conclusion of the first two books.

While I recognize that as a ‘me’ problem, I also feel an author including slight, subtle recaps is always helpful. I didn’t feel a lot of that here.

Regardless of that fact, however, I still really enjoyed my time reading this novel. The world continues to be built out. It’s dangerous, complex and full of compelling people, creatures and history.

I am really looking forward to the next book in this series. I am planning to do myself a favor and binge read the first three again prior to picking it up.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Teen, for making my dreams come true and providing me with a copy to read and review.

I truly appreciate it and will be singing this series praises for a long time to come!!!

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Review: Tarnish Empire (Dark Shores #0.5) by Danielle L. Jensen

Tarnished Empire (Dark Shores, #0.5)Tarnished Empire by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Tarnished Empire is a prequel installment to Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores series.

Released in January of 2021, this story was just what I needed to tide me over until Gilded Serpent released. I was hella satisfied upon completion.

In this story, we learn more about Marcus and the notorious 37th Legion, which he leads as Commander. If you have read Dark Shores, you will be well acquainted with Marcus.

You may recall him as a smart, powerful and fair leader. In this story, he’s not quite as accomplished, or respected, as he will be someday.

He and his men are assigned to squash the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. It’s a sticky situation with a lot of innocent people falling into harms way.

Agrippa, a soldier in the 37th, and a friend of Marcus, plays a central role in this narrative. He is a charming and engaging character who brought some light humor to the mix.

I loved Agrippa and was happy to hear that we are going to be getting more of him in Gilded Serpent!

His romantic interest, Silvara, is a washer woman, who also is secretly part of the resistance. When Agrippa and Silvara begin a relationship, it’s anyone’s guess what secrets will be shared between them.

Overall, I found this to be a good story. It kept me engaged and I really enjoyed the action scenes, as well as the behind the scenes political maneuverings.

I loved learning more of Marcus’ backstory, as well as more about the Dark Shores world in general. This is the type of world where every detail is interesting.

Jensen’s world-building is top notch. This series is currently underrated in my opinion. If you are sleeping on it, wait no longer.

Start this series!! It’s so good!

Personally, if we were to discuss reading order, I would recommend reading them in publication order. Even though this is a prequel, I would read Dark Shores and Dark Skies prior to this one.

I am picking up Gilded Serpent this week ((FINALLY)) and am so pumped to be back in this world with some of my favorite characters!!!

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Review: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hot dang!!! That’s how you write a Fantasy!

Believe the hype. Legendborn is next level. I am so impressed with Tracy Deonn and cannot wait for the second book.

Go into this knowing as little as possible, just let the story wash over you. It’s complex and layered. The characters are wonderful and the magic system is incredibly creative.

It’s everything I look for in a modern urban fantasy!!!

The mystery of it kept me completely engaged. I couldn’t put Legendborn down once I started.

With the heavy fangirling out of the way, let’s get to the most serious question…

WHEN DOES THE SECOND BOOK RELEASE!?

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Review: Malice by Heather Walter

MaliceMalice by Heather Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, an evil fairy cursed a line of Princesses to die. The only way to break the curse, true love’s kiss.

You may be thinking you’ve heard this story before, right?

I’d say, not quite like this. in Malice, Heather Walter has put her own darkly creative spin on the beloved tale, Sleeping Beauty.

Alyce is a Dark Grace, living in a house of Beauty Graces since she was just a young girl.

While the wealthy of Briar set appointments with the other Graces to enhance their beauty, they go to Alyce for more sinister potions and tinctures.

Alyce has never fit in with the other girls and is frequently harassed by them; particularly by the beautiful and talented, Rose.

As deplorable as their treatment of her is, Alyce grows used to it. She even comes to accept it, in a way.

That’s why when she crosses paths with the last Princess, Aurora, and Aurora shows her kindness, Alyce isn’t quite sure how to react. Why would the Princess want to be friends with her? It doesn’t make any sense.

In the midst of all of this, Alyce actually stumbles upon, and befriends someone else. Kal, a man magically imprisoned in a tower, who promises to teach her how to harness her powers.

Through her meetings with him, Alyce begins to learn more about her history, potential and the world outside of Briar.

The world Walter created within this story was absolutely immersive. I loved the magic system. Learning about the Graces and their powers, but also the interactions with Fae and the history of Briar.

It’s richly detailed, but in a way that stays engaging. Alyce was a fantastically created character. I felt her every emotion; also extra points for including her kestrel, Callow. Three cheers for animal companions.

I also thought the relationship between Alyce and Aurora was well done. It felt natural. The stakes were really high and it definitely pushed the drama of the story.

I did feel like the end dragged on a bit, but overall, I was so impressed with this. I would definitely recommend Malice for Readers who enjoy the darker side of fairy tales.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Heather Walter!

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Review: Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale) by Jen Calonita

Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale: Hercules)Go the Distance by Jen Calonita
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-stars rounded up**

Picking up directly after the events of the Disney animated movie, Go the Distance follows Megara as she fights for her right to be with Hercules.

After Herc regains his godship, the couple are ready to celebrate. As Hercules is called by his parents to return to Mount Olympus, however, they run into a problem. Zeus quickly points out that Meg cannot go, as she is a mere mortal.

Meg can’t believe it. After everything they have been through, is this how it is going to end?

Hercules is shocked as well and advocates to stay with Meg. He’d rather be with her than have a life of immortality alone.

His parents aren’t going to stand for that though; no way. Hera, seeing how happy Meg makes her son, offers Meg a deal; a way for her to earn her way into a spot on Mount Olympus.

All she has to do is complete a mysterious quest in 10-days. Unfortunately, the quest involves saving her ex-boyfriend’s, new wife’s soul from the Underworld.

Obviously, Meg has some mixed feelings on this, but she agrees nonetheless. We’re talking about eternity with the man she loves here.

Joining her for support is Philoctetes, better known as Phil. The coach to the Gods. If anyone can help Meg work through her quest, it is him. And let’s not forget Pegasus!! He’s along as well, to give Meg a helping hoof.

Meg needs to put her hurt emotions aside, as well as face her nemesis, Hades, again. She escaped his clutches once, could she be so lucky as to do it again?

I really had a fun time reading this story. I love Megara. She’s one of my favorite characters within the Disney universe. She’s smart, she’s snarky and she’s not constantly looking for someone to save her.

I enjoyed the backstory Calonita created for her. The loss of her mother, their relationship, her previous relationship with her ex-boyfriend and even Hades manipulation of her.

I thought the quest was fun. Having Phil and Pegasus along definitely made it more humorous. I loved watching both of them come to accept Meg for who she is.

Overall, I think this is a fun addition to this series. If you are a Megara fan, as I am, you should definitely give this one a shot!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always look forward to the new releases in the Twisted Tales series!!!

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Review: Namesake (Fable #2) by Adrienne Young

Namesake (Fable, #2)Namesake by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Namesake is the conclusion to Adrienne Young’s, Fable duology; a Seafaring Fantasy story with action, adventure and heart.

After the cliffhanger ending of Fable, our protagonist finds herself once again, separated from the one’s she loves, as she is used as a pawn in a rival trader’s scheme for power.

Just as she was beginning to find the place she felt she belonged, more challenges are thrown in her face.

On her new ship, she runs into an old acquaintance. A close friend of her parents, who she thought was lost forever.

In her struggle to return to the Marigold, and the handsome Captain she left behind, Fable ends up learning a lot more about her Mother, particularly her earlier life; some of it surprising, to say the least.

This story takes the plotting and scheming to a whole new level, as the different trading organizations in this world vie for power and position.

I really enjoyed watching Fable’s evolution as a character over the course of these two books. Although she has always been a fighter, she was fairly helpless in the beginning in a lot of ways.

She was used so often as a pawn in other people’s games, but as she grew and discovered her own power, she became a force to be reckoned with. She became like the center of a whirlpool, sucking everyone in around her.

Overall, I am so satisfied with how this turned out. It was really a lot of fun. I enjoyed the complexity that Young brought to this one, which I felt was lacking a bit in the first novel.

In my opinion, Fable deserves the world! She discovered so much about herself, that she didn’t understand before. I feel like with that understanding, she was able to become who she was truly meant to be. My baby bird has left the nest.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I really enjoyed it!

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Review: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Fable (Fable, #1)Fable by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Four years ago, 17-year old, Fable, was abandoned by her Father on a notorious island full of dangers and thieves. Her mother had just died, the victim of a terrible storm, and Fable was truly alone.

All her Father left her with were the parting words, you’re not cut out for a life on the sea. Fable disagrees, however, and has spent her time in the proceeding years trying to figure out a way back to him and into her rightful place on his crew.

She finally secures her means of escape with a companion she has met through trading, a young man named, West.

Him and his crew allow Fable to come aboard their ship, the Marigold, for the journey across The Narrows. As we all expect with a sea-faring tale, dangers lurk around every corner and the crew must band together in order to survive.

Fable is definitely a slow burn. It’s quite character-driven, but I did enjoy my time learning about Fable, West and the other characters on the Marigold. There’s a nice found-family element to it that I liked quite a bit as well.

This reminded me a lot of Daughter of the Pirate King. There’s actually more than a few similarities, although I do feel this story feels a bit more mature than that one. I do think if you enjoyed that book, you’ll enjoy this one too.

There are some light magical elements to this that I hope are built out a bit more in the second book. Fable’s ability at reading gems is unique and I want to know more.

This left off on such a great cliffhanger. I have already picked up the second book, Namesake and am excited to see how Fable’s story concludes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys an adventure on the high seas!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it very much!

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Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the NightDown Comes the Night by Allison Saft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wren Southerland is a magical healer and the niece of the Queen, but that hasn’t won her any favors. In fact, her Aunt treats her very poorly.

After Wren’s empathy causes her to make a mistake on the battlefield, she gets banished from the Queen’s Guard and sent back to live in a remote abbey.

Most upsettingly, this causes Wren to be separated from her best friend, Una, a Captain in the Queen’s Guard. She also happens to be the woman Wren loves.

Wren is kicking herself for her mistake and just trying to figure out a way back to Una. Certainly her Aunt will find it in her heart to forgive her.

While at the abbey, stewing in her misery, Wren receives a letter from Lord Alistair Lowry, inviting her to his home, in order to help him with a little problem.

His servants are sick and dying from a mysterious illness. One man is still alive, suffering and he wants Wren to try to heal him before it is to late.

She considers it a great opportunity and decides to take him up on his offer, traveling to the neighboring kingdom of Cernos, to Lowry’s estate of Colwick Hall.

((cue the gothic ambiance))

Her movements weren’t exactly approved by the Queen, so Wren finds herself a bit of an Outlaw. In her eyes, it is worth it though.

Shockingly, her new patient turns out to be someone she knows. Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria, her kingdom’s sworn enemy.

There’s political gains to be made here. Perhaps Wren can still work her way into the Queen’s good graces and be reunited with Una.

As she begins to get to know Hal, however, she starts to question a lot of her previous beliefs. Soon, Wren and Hal are working together to solve a murder mystery chilling enough for even the sturdiest of characters.

Down Comes the Night was such a pleasant surprise. A great debut for Saft!

There were so many aspects to this that I enjoyed, but first and foremost would be the atmosphere. Colwick Hall felt like the creepy, gothic mansion of my dreams. Reading this, I felt like I was there. I could smell it, feel the cold and dread what was hiding in every shadow.

Hal and Wren working together, watching their relationship evolve, was fantastic. They were complete opposites, but grew to understand and appreciate each other because of that.

I was genuinely afraid for them. The dangers they faced as the explored the secrets of Colwick Hall were palpable.

I also thought the magic was well done. Wren’s work as a magic-based healer was quite detailed and I liked that it was a bit on the gruesome side.

Saft definitely didn’t shy away from blood and gore, so if you enjoy that, as I do, you should definitely check this one out. You know who you are.

Overall, I think this is a very fun standalone YA Fantasy. There were a few little things that didn’t work as well for my tastes, but they were definitely overshadowed by the aspects I enjoyed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had a great time with it and look forward to reading more from Allison Saft!

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Blog Tour: The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, #1)The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Iron Raven is the first installment to a new trilogy set in the world of Julie Kagawa’s, Iron Fey series.

There have been seven previous full-length novels, as well as a handful of novellas, in this series. This is the first to feature Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck, as the narrator.

I must confess, I have never read any of the novels set in this world. In spite of that, I still had a ton of fun reading this story and loved all of the characters!

I’m sure for long-time fans of the series, this book is full of nostalgic content and it will be even more wonderful for them to read.

I was excited to pick this up because Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox trilogy is my favorite YA Fantasy trilogy of all time.

Her witty and vibrant writing style mesh extremely well with my tastes. In fact, after this, I am quite tempted to go back and read the Iron Fey series from the beginning!

This novel is a classic adventure story, complete with a dangerous quest, set in the lands of the Fae.

It begins with Puck chancing upon the King of the Forgotten, Kierran, who needs to get a message to his mother, Meghan, the Iron Queen. He is trying to warn her of a vicious monster currently wrecking havoc in the Between.

When the monster does show it’s face, it is unlike anything Puck as ever encountered. He’s injured in the process, as well as his new friend, the lady’s assassin, Nyx.

They set out together to find Meghan and engage her help with putting a stop to the monster’s reign of terror before it is too late.

I really enjoyed Puck as narrator. He is sarcastic and funny even in the most dire of situations. He is also a character struggling with past hurts and negative aspects of his own personality.

I always love a quest, as a hodge-podge team of traveling companions are constructed, you just know that you are in for an action-packed good time. That was certainly the case here.

Puck and Nyx are ultimately joined by Meghan, Ash, Coaleater and Grim, as they try to find out the truth behind the monster and what threatens the lands of the Fae.

They encounter some dangerous obstacles and a whole host of magical and mythical creatures along the way; all while trying to navigate their own interpersonal challenges.

I was completely swept up into this world. As always, Kagawa’s character interactions stole the show for me. I love her dialogue and laughed out loud numerous times.

The ending is a compelling cliffhanger, leaving off with a prophecy that definitely let’s the Reader know this adventure is far from over!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and and review.

I had so much fun with it and cannot wait for the next book to be released!!!

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