Review: Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Malice HouseMalice House by Megan Shepherd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a very successful start, Malice House dropped off a cliff for me around 75% of the way in. It’s unfortunate, I hate to say it, but it happens…

This story follows an artist named Haven Marbury. Haven’s father, a very famous author, has recently passed away. Because of this, Haven travels from her home in New York City to his property on the West Coast. She has inherited his possibly haunted house and everything in it.

Having recently suffered through a very traumatic break-up, with barely two pennies to rub together, the idea of having a place of her own, far from her ex, is actually a blessing.

Once at the house, Haven meets with her father’s 0ld-caregiver, a rather disturbing woman in her own right. A woman that in the past has refused to spend one single night at the property.

Unusual happenings begin pretty much right away. It’s a big house and definitely spooky. Additionally, it’s bringing up a lot of mixed feelings for Haven.

Sifting through her father’s belongings, Haven discovers an unpublished manuscript called Bedtime Stories for Monsters, which is quite different from his previous works.

It’s dark and twisted, right up Haven’s alley. She has an epiphany. She needs money. Her father’s name on a cover will sell any book. She’s an artist. She’ll illustrate this book and pitch it to publishers as a father-daughter posthumous collaboration.

Unfortunately, a local group of bibliophiles that her father was a part of, the Ink Drinkers, start continuously trying to insert themselves into the process of deciding what to do with the unpublished manuscript. Haven probably should have kept that discovery to herself.

After that, things start to get really weird. Haven feels like they’re crazy, she wants them to stay the heck away from her. It’s her father’s work. They have no say over what she does with it, or do they?

There’s an attractive, though suspicious, neighbor. There’s potential poltergeist activity at the house. There are monsters coming to life and attacking. There are crazy locals and a dark, ill-feeling atmosphere.

As mentioned above, I was super intrigued by this in the beginning. I love the idea of fictional stories pulling through into real life. Monsters jumping off the pages and wrecking havoc. Are you kidding?! That’s amazing!

There were a few fun twists and as it began to come together as to what was happening, I lifted an eyebrow. Okay, Megan Shepherd. I see you. You are a Horror Gurlie. Me too!

At some point though, it kept going and went too far. It got so convoluted that it was hard to follow. I’m not sure what could have improved, I’m not claiming to be an author here, but it completely lost me by the conclusion.

I liked Haven as a character and enjoyed watching her discover some fairly significant family secrets. I just wish the pace could have been more even. The monstrous elements did build steadily, but they didn’t stop at a coherent point. It just devolved into chaos.

The more I think about this, as I am writing this review, the more disappointed I get. I am serious when I say, I really enjoyed the beginning. There are so many elements in this to love, especially if you are a fan of darker fiction. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t pulled through to a solid conclusion in my opinion.

With this being said, just because I wasn’t crazy about the ending doesn’t mean you won’t be. If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a shot. You could find a new favorite read within these pages.

Thank you to the publisher, Hyperion Avenue, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this one didn’t blow me away, I would definitely pick up more Megan Shepherd novels.

View all my reviews

Review: Fevered Star (Between Earth & Sky #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Fevered Star is the second book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s epic Adult Fantasy series, Between Earth and Sky. I believe this is slated to be a trilogy, but holy smokes, would I take more.

As this is the second book of the series, I really don’t want to delve into the finer points of the plot in too much detail.

I definitely wouldn’t want to spoil anything about this wonderful story for anyone; so I will stick mainly to what you can discover via the publisher’s synopsis.

We do continue to follow our four mains from the first book, who are all scrambling to figure out the directions their lives are to take after the fall of the great city of Tova.

Serepio and Naranpa have both risen to a higher state of being, now the living embodiments of Gods at odds with one another. Even though they realize this is their fate, they both struggle to hold onto their humanity.

Xiala, my favorite character, has been swept up in the tide of change as well. True to her nature, she’s on the move, but everything in her being is still tied to the strange and enchanting boy she befriended on her last journey, Serepio. Is he lost to her forever?

You know the opening credits of Game of Thrones, where you are flying over a map of all the different areas in the world and watching cities rise, gears turning, an evolution of an empire happening before your eyes?

That’s what this book is like. The game pieces are moving and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the characters I have come to know and love.

This is such an impressive work of fiction. I love how Roanhorse has incorporated indigenous myths and Pre-Columbian culture into this story. It’s like nothing I have ever read before.

The world is beautifully displayed within these pages and continues to be built out in epic proportions. I definitely recommend the audibooks. I have listen to both and have been completely swept up in the narrative both times; absolutely transported.

I’m really looking forward to the third book in this series and may actually reread the first two just prior to its release. I love them both that much. It would be a piece of cake.

If you love Epic Fantasy stories with intricate world-building and tons of political maneuverings, I would definitely recommend picking this series up!

View all my reviews

Review: For the Throne (Wilderwood #2) by Hannah F. Whitten

For The Throne (Wilderwood, #2)For The Throne by Hannah F. Whitten
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


For the Throne is the final book in the Wilderwood duology by Hannah F. Whitten. This Adult Fantasy story follows two sisters, princesses Neve and Redarys, known as Red.

In their kingdom tradition claims the first daughter is for the throne while the second daughter, Red in this case, is for the Wolf of the Wilderwood.

In the first book we follow Red as she journeys into the Wilderwood to fulfill that obligation. Once there she finds that the Wolf is much different than she expected.

He’s not a vicious beast, but a man who she comes to know and love. It was a slow burn story, but one that I thought was good and also a great set-up for a second book.

Red has a type of earth magic that really came alive once she entered the Wilderwood; I enjoyed watching that power blossom. The setting was fantastic, I loved the dark atmosphere and reading about the lore behind this world.

Neve, the first daughter, is left behind in their kingdom when Red enters the Wood. Neve will eventually take over the throne as queen. She’s fine with that, but she’s not fine with sacrificing her sister for that purpose.

She wants Red back. She just needs to figure out a way to make it happen.

Although she had a smaller role than Red in the first book, I was most intrigued by Neve’s perspective. She was adept at scheming and I never knew what lengths she was going to go to next to reach her goals.

In this book, Neve plays an equal role in the narrative to Red. Actually, I feel like she’s sort of the star of the show in this one as she evolves into a new type of queen.

In this second book though it’s not just Neve trying to save Red from her fate, but now Red feels equally compelled to rescue Neve as well.

Neither one feels like their sister is in the right place and their love for each other keeps them highly motivated throughout it all.

I would say there is much less of a romance element in this one. There’s still a little there, particularly between Neve and the individual she is forced into an alliance with, but personally I didn’t mind the less romance.

I definitely preferred this narrative over the first book, however the story still failed to ever truly capture me. It moved so slowly…

While I can fully appreciate that this is a good story with a well-built world and characters, it just wasn’t for me. I liked it, it was fine, but it wasn’t captivating enough for me to give it a higher rating.

I do know that a lot of Adult Fantasy Readers will adore this one though. If you think the premise sounds like something you would enjoy, you absolutely should pick it up. Particularly if you like slow-burn romance and dark atmospheres.

Thank you to the publisher, Orbit Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

View all my reviews

Review: Book of Night by Holly Black

Book of NightBook of Night by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Throughout her childhood, Charlie Hall was trained by a family friend in the art of deception.

Young Charlie proved adept at every task that was thrown at her. Charlie ultimately became one of the most successful con artists around, but leaving that part of her life in the past, as an adult she works a normal job as a bartender.

Charlie’s world resembles our own, but it’s so much more interesting. It’s full of dark, mystifying concepts such as shadow magic and other things I never quite understood.

One night at Charlie’s work a violent incident occurs and someone ends up dead. This event opens up channels into Charlie’s past. She has a mystery to solve.

Book of Night is Holly Black’s adult debut and I would say one of the most anticipated releases of 2022.

I finished it a little over a week ago and have put off writing this review because I knew it would be a tricky one.

This novel starts out fairly slowly and it does contain a lot of flashbacks to Charlie’s childhood.

Initially, I wasn’t sold on that past perspective, but eventually I did come to enjoy it and understand why it was important to the development of Charlie as a character.

Once the murder mystery begins, it really begins to pick up. I definitely would say I was more captivated by the second half of the book than the first.

At almost 2-weeks post-completing this novel, I will admit, I remember close to nothing about the plot. There were quite a few characters, but the only two I remember by name are Charlie and Vince.

I did enjoy how morally grey the characters were and I especially connected with Charlie. I thought she was a great main and I look forward to learning even more about her.

The magic system was interesting, although never fully explained. I definitely do not have a 100% grasp on the way this world works, but I am super intrigued by it.

The tone of this reminded me a lot of Ninth House and I would say I did feel quite similarly about that book.

In short, while I can’t sit and explain every plot point of Book of Night to anyone, I can say I enjoyed my time reading it. So much so, in fact, that I will willingly and happily reread it prior to the next book being released.

I would say if you enjoy dark Urban Fantasy stories with morally grey characters and a dangerous mystery at its core, you should absolutely pick this one up and give it a shot.

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

I’m so happy to have read this and look forward to continuing on with the series!

View all my reviews

Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Nettle & BoneNettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A hearty hello to one of my new favorite books. Seriously, Nettle & Bone was the EASIEST FIVE STAR RATING I’VE GIVEN ALL YEAR!!!

I absolutely adored this story from the very first moments. T. Kingfisher positively swept me up into the humorous, enchanting fantasy quest of my dreams.

Nettle & Bone follows Princess Marra of the Harbor Kingdom on a quest to save her sister. Marra is the third-born daughter in her family. The first born was married to a particular Prince. It didn’t end well.

Now the second-born daughter, Kania, is married to that very same Prince and Marra suspects that he is hurting her. Vorling, the Prince in question, has his sights set on a male heir. If this second sister can’t produce one for him, guess who is next in line?

Marra! This isn’t her main concern though. I mean, yes, that would be absolutely terrible. This guy is basically Joffrey Baratheon reborn.

Regardless, Marra’s only concern is getting Kania out of danger. She is literally willing to do anything in order to free her, including commit murder.

Unsure how to even begin, Marra enlists the help of a Dust Wife. I won’t go into what exactly a Dust Wife is, just trust, this one is one of the coolest characters ever written!

The Dust Wife asks Marra to complete three impossible tasks and then she will help her. Before long, the two set off on the road to the Northern Kingdom, along with the Dust Wife’s hen, who happens to be possessed by a demon.

Thus it begins, the most perfect quest. They gather traveling companions along the way, such as a former, and arguably sexy, knight, as well as a Fairy Godmother.

It’s safe to say that I love this story with the same passion, and frankly, for the same reasons, that I love The Princess Bride. Kingfisher is delivering all the classic Fantasy Quest tropes I adore, while glazing the entire tale with a healthy layer of humor.

Additionally, I enjoyed how she was able to mix real-life themes into this story. For example, partner abuse, which we all know is very real, the way that was explored in this fantastical setting was quite interesting.

As I mentioned earlier, from the very start I was hooked on this story. Previously, I have only picked up Horror stories from Kingfisher, but this proves her talents know no bounds. She crushes any genre she writes in.

I am so happy to have found a new book to add to my all-time Favorites list. I will definitely be picking up a hard copy of this and rereading it at some point in the near future.

As an aside, I did listen to the audiobook and highly recommend that format. The narration was fantastic and kept me dialed in the entire way through.

Thank you so very much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copies to read and review.

It was such an enjoyable reading experience and the good news is, this isn’t it from Kingfisher in 2022. I’m so excited to check out What Moves the Dead very soon!!

View all my reviews

Review: In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi #1) by Rory Power

In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi, #1)In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In a Garden Burning Gold is Rory Power’s Adult Fantasy debut and I would argue she has brought her own unique stamp to that space. We love to see it.

There’s no denying that Power has a wickedly delightful imagination and a beautiful style of writing. Additionally, in the YA space, I’ve loved her body horror and vivid imagery.

In a Garden Burning Gold is a complex story following twins, Rhea and Lexos. The twins are gifted with special powers and use those to help their father rule their small country.

The twins have two other siblings, Chrysanthi and Nitsos. These children also have unique talents of their own, but they’re not close to as powerful as Rhea and Lexos. Therefore they are but a footnote in their father’s eye.

Rhea controls the changing of the seasons, but in order to do so she must select a consort and ultimately end their life in order to switch from one season to the next. That’s a heavy assignment, as you can imagine.

Lexos controls the stars and tides. Together, Rhea and Lexos have always been each other’s main allies, but what happens when they are no longer on the same side?

As I mentioned above, this is a complex story. The world-building takes up a lot of time and I still don’t feel like I understand everything that was involved in all of the political maneuverings.

Lexos and Rhea are in separates places throughout most of the story and they are both interacting with numerous side characters. I had a difficult time keeping any of these characters straight.

Honestly, I was barely holding it together for the first 75% of the book. Around that point there’s a shocking twist that dropped me back in and didn’t let up.

Prior to that point however, it was just okay for me. It was pretty writing, I could see that it was a good story, but I personally didn’t feel connected. The point behind it all felt very elusive to me.

Fortunately, the experience really amped up towards the end. There were some startling revelations that I would love to explore further. Therefore, I will absolutely pick up the next book when it releases.

So, even though it may seem like I was underwhelmed by this, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think this is a solid start to a very complicated story. Power is a gifted writer and I trust that she is going to up the stakes even further in the next book.

Overall, I would recommend this to Fantasy Readers who enjoy lush world-building, slow burn, political and familial drama based stories. I know that even though this one didn’t capture me from the very start, that there are a lot of Readers out there who will be engaged with it from the very first chapter.

Thank you to the publisher, Del Rey Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to the sequel!

View all my reviews

Review: Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Black Sun slapped me in the face. I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. I expected to enjoy it, sure, but this absolutely transported me to another world.

This lush, epic Fantasy is inspired by civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas. I loved the incorporation of those aspects. It was like nothing I had ever read before.

Following multiple-POVs, Roanhorse was able to seamlessly transition from one perspective to the next without disrupting the flow of the narrative. I thought all the different angles were handled so well.

There’s an ancient prophecy that you get to watch coming to fruition right before your eyes, as all the puzzle pieces move into place just in time for a rare celestial event; a solar eclipse on the day of the winter solstice.

The Sun Priest, basically the highest religious position of this ancient land, has stated that this event will bring about an imbalance in the world.

As the story begins, you are introduced to the main characters, Serapio, Xiala, Naranpa and Okoa, who will play fundamental roles in this prophecy. They’re on the move, everyone is heading towards the holy city of Tova, where a great festival for the solstice will be held.

The tension builds at a nice steady pace over the course of the story, but as you approach the end, hold onto your hats, it feels like it is all going to explode. I was shocked an awed by it all.

I loved the level of intrigue, plotting, back-stabbing and danger that Roanhorse brought to this story. It’s multifaceted and fascinating.

Even though this is a complex story, set in a fully built-out world, it never felt overwhelming or info-dumpy. That’s a hard thing to do. To create a world like this, done this well, takes real skill. I doff my cap to Roanhorse.

I’m so excited to get my hands on the next book in this series and am extremely glad it is going to be releasing soon. This first book definitely ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I don’t want to forget a thing!

This was one of the easiest 5-star ratings I have given this year. I am so happy I finally fit this one into my schedule. A complete delight!

View all my reviews

Review: Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

Flowers for the SeaFlowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

For me, this reading experience was very similar to my time spent with The Deep by Rivers Solomon.

My first reaction upon completion with both novellas was, what in the heck did I just read?

Followed shortly thereafter by thoughts such as, that was gorgeous writing, this is beautiful and important, and finally, I wish I had a better understanding of it.

Flowers for the Sea is Dark Fantasy novella centering around Iraxi, a headstrong, powerful woman trapped on a claustrophobic-feeling ark sailing the high seas.

For a good portion of the story she is struggling through the last moments of, what seems to be, an unwanted pregnancy.

Iraxi’s emotions take center stage as she works through anger, pain, revenge and motherhood. It’s a lot.

A story set at sea, with a sea creature aspect, this is an intriguing premise and the writing shows so much promise. I would love to read more from Zin E. Rocklyn; hopefully at some point in a longer format, so I can really settle into their style and ideas.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with an Audio-ARC to listen to and review. I am really happy I had the opportunity to check this one out. It was memorable!

View all my reviews

Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so hooked on this series. The characters, the intrigue, the brutality, the world-building; it’s all exemplary.

Off the charts. Sensational!

Before They Are Hanged is the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s series, The First Law. If you are unaware, the first three books in the series are a connected trilogy, while books four, five and six, are all standalone novels that take place in the same world.

I have been intimidated for years by this series; by Abercrombie actually. Even though I had heard nothing but great things about his writing.

I’m not quite sure what all that was about, but now that I have completed the first three books, I would count this as one of my favorite series ever. Yeah, it’s that good.

In this second book, I was super pumped about the fact that we were going on a quest. Bayez, the First of the Magi, gathers a group of traveling companions and they head out across the world in search of a mysterious ancient object.

Quests are one of my favorite tropes. I love to go along for the danger and adventure of the road. This group, oh my goodness, they were ill-suited to one another at first, but as with many traveling groups before them, they eventually began to grow on one another.

The quest is just one of the many storylines going on in this installment, however, so there is plenty here for everyone. Even if you are a monster and a quest isn’t your most favorite thing.

Throughout I was continually impressed with the world creation. I was learning so much regarding the structure and functioning of this world, all while maintaining my high level of interest. It was in no way info-dumpy, or dull.

The characters, as well, particularly our mains, are totally fleshed out. I have never loved such a brutal group of utter bastards more. I am seriously so attached to them; it’s a wee bit concerning actually.

The stakes were raised so high over the course of this narrative. I knew by the time I turned the final page, I needed to get my hands on the third book as quickly as possible.

10 out of 10, recommend to all Epic Fantasy fans, Grimdark Fantasy fans and Heroic Fantasy fans. In short, Fantasy fans unite!!

View all my reviews

Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The First Law series has been on my radar for a long time. It’s one of those Fantasy series that seems to stand out as a favorite amongst Readers.

After completing this, I can absolutely see why.

With a lush, Grimdark Fantasy setting, extremely well-constructed characters, magic and a ton of intrigue, I was fully immersed within this story when I was reading it.

Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I had no clue where the story was going, but was perfectly content to sit back and let Abercrombie’s genius wash over me.

In this first book, the main cast of characters is introduced and we watch as the spheres of their worlds begin to merge.

Logen, Bayaz, Glokta and Jezal were all incredibly compelling. Each one of their stories was one that I wanted to know more about. Often, I feel like character work can be uneven; like there are characters you are more drawn to than others. In this case, I loved each and every one of them!

There is a lot of ground work being laid in this novel, but in spite of that, it never felt like a slog. It always felt exciting and important.

I really enjoyed the level of magic that Abercrombie included. It wasn’t overdone, or relied upon too heavily as a plot device, but I feel like we are just scratching the surface of the powers available in this world.

I love how this ended up, with the intrigue higher than ever and it appears we are heading out on a quest. One of my favorite tropes in Fantasy.

I cannot wait to get to the next book!!!

View all my reviews