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Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles

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ARC was provided by NetGalley & Wednesday Books in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (August 25th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Alcohol and drinking, mind manipulation, controlling/possessive behavior, trauma, misogyny, mentions of blood and injury, missing persons, grief/loss, death of a parent

“For in the world of magic, a woman’s place lies in the quiet shadows of labor magic, the encouraged path. The safer one. Because the ones who dare most often disappear.”

Dearest friends, with this being one of my anticipated release for 2020, I wanted nothing more than to love this book with every fiber of my soul. The question is, did I fall in love with this book? Yes, yes I did! It captivated my attention from the very first page and left me craving more. It’s no surprise that Where Dreams Descend has made it onto my top books of 2020! I am in love with this book, Janella’s writing, and I can’t wait for all of you to pick this book up!

Kallia has been a showgirl at Hellfire House for most of her life. With a deep bond with the head of the club, Jack, and everything at her finger tips, how could she possibly want anything more? Until a flyer lands in her possession about a competition happening in Glorian where magicians compete to be the next headliner for the Conquering Circus. With an everlasting dream, powerful magic, and an ambitious desire, Kallia will start to uncover all the lies and manipulation keeping her caged at Hellfire House. When she finally flees Jack, she’ll learn just how dangerous Glorian really is for a magician especially as her fellow competitors start to disappear and everything she’s longed for is threatened.

♠️ Kallia – The Star, our main heroine, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost. Truly proud of her powers, how hard she’s worked, with a dream to one day preform in Glorian. A cinnamon roll in every way, trying to break free from the chains and cage Hellfire House placed upon her.

♠️ Jack – The Master, controlling and mysterious, the enigmatic keeper of Hellfire House, and more than one lie told to keep the show going. Using manipulation and deception to keep Kallia caged at Hellfire House, protecting her from the dangers of the the outside world.

♠️ Demarco – The Magician, a mysterious man, the brooding judge with a past that won’t stop haunting him. He is a broken, soulful boy who used to be a powerful magician and now he’s the strictest one to prevent others from making the mistakes he made. Also, he’s unable to resist the pull of Kallia’s energy and her fiery passion.

I say this all the time, give me a book with morally grey characters and it’s a sure guarantee that I will fall in love with your book. Where Dreams Descends delivers just that, characters who are morally grey. No matter if they were a main character or a side character, I fell in love with so many of them and I truly can’t wait to see more of them. And while I’m talking about our lovely characters, we have to talk about Aros! Aros was a fiercely loyal character to Kallia. Despite their original interaction, I truly believe Kallia saw the true potential and all the best qualities in Aros. I never mattered if Kallia told him her secrets, he was always right by her side especially in the times where she needed him the most. He was a witty, charming, and such a soft character who delivered so much for me, as a reader.

Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge with Cinderella and Repunzel elements? Yes please! The writing style is lush with vivid descriptions, mysterious wonder, with an atmosphere so captivating, so familiar that it will hook you from the very beginning! I was in a complete trance of tension and anticipation as I submerged myself into this story line. Angeles has the kind of writing style that I love. One that catches you from the first page and makes you want to power read the whole book in one sitting. She laces her book with a story and plot laced with hints, clues, and truths that reveal just enough, but doesn’t show our author’s full hand. Leaving us, the readers, to theorize, wonder, and visualize what’s in store for us next. With so many questions unanswered and a cliffhanger of an ending, book two is bound to deliver a good time.

“It was wrong to justify what sort of hurt mattered and what didn’t. Anything that left scars came from hurt. Only now was she realizing the scars she bore and had trained herself not to see.”

I also want to talk about a lot of the content warnings in this book. Of course, please make sure you practice self-care and self-love when reading anything with content warnings. Even though there are clear elements of fantasy in this book, I want to say how accurate the representation is for being in a relationship or having a connection to someone who uses mind manipulation or essentially brainwashing as a tool to aid with their control and possessive behavior. I don’t want to go into too many details, but as someone who has lived with someone who has that kind of behavior, it’s an accurate representation. Ever emotion, every feeling Kallia feels due to the things Jack subjects her to, this is what it feels like to have that kind of presence in your life and to have them coming back after only short amounts of time from the last you saw them.

And of course, there’s the romance that blooms! This was the factor that surprised me the most. Even though it’s right in the description, it still took me by surprise and I still fell madly in love with it. I do wish we had more of it though. The romance was there, but there truly wasn’t enough for this to be labeled as a romance. So I’m hoping in the second book we’ll be seeing more of the romance elements that we’re all dying for!

Overall, I’m honestly shocked. It feels like an eternity since I read a ya fantasy that really reminded me of why I love the fantasy genre so much. Even after finishing this book, I’m still asking myself why I’m so surprised when it has so many elements that I love. This book is bound to be on so many readers’ top books for 2020. With this being one of my anticipated releases for 2020, I’m happy to say this was everything I wanted and more. If you’re looking for a darkly dramatic book that’s own voices then I can’t recommend this book enough to you!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abduction, captivity, talk of cancer, terminal illness, loss of a loved one, murder, death, grief, torture, trauma/PTSD, abuse, a pedophile comment, attempted sexual assault (by Lilith), thoughts and attempts of suicide, a lot of ablest speech (always in a negative light from the villain)

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

Friends, I truly wanted to love this books with my whole heart. I mean, it’s a retelling and a Beauty and the Beast retelling at that. And we all know I love a good retelling, but despite many good elements this book offers, I couldn’t give this book five stars. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that book two will be better.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that has the crown prince sealed into a Groundhog’s Day effect, where he’s forced to repeat the same season to find a love that will break the curse. But at the end of each season, should the prince fail to find love and break free of the curse, blood will be spilled and terror will descend upon the people of the kingdom. However, after three-hundred seasons, this will finally be the last season.

⚔️ The Characters ⚔️

⚔️ Harper – The Belle. Eighteen years old and living with high functioning cerebral palsy, Harper isn’t living the easiest life before she’s captured. Living with a mother who has cancer and can’t afford medical treatment, a father who vanished after stacking a high debt to crime lords, and a queer brother (Jake) who takes on the burden of providing and protecting the family. *Side Note: There are many forms of cerebral palsy, I can’t confirm if this is accurate representation. However, if you are an own voice reviewer please send me a link for your review so I can boost your voice and feelings about the representation!*

⚔️ Rhen – The Beast. The prince of the kingdom. I mentioned above that his goal is to bring a girl back to his kingdom and make her fall in love with him. Should he fail, he turns into a different beast each season and destroys anything and everything in his path. Then a new season will begin and the curse repeats itself.

⚔️ Grey – Rhen’s guard commander, the only living person left in the castle. He takes his job very seriously, loyal to the bone, and the only one with the ability to portal between worlds. With all that being said, Rhen bestowed the task of capturing the girls and bringing them back to the castle.

⚔️ Lilith – The enchantress. The one who cast the curse over Rhen and his kingdom.

⚔️ Freya – An underrated character of this book! A single mother of her own child and taking care of three of her sister’s children. A character that hit so close to home in every single way. I would love if she received her own novella or series because she is a true gem in this whole book and deserves her own happy ending.

All these characters will come together to set the scene for the rest of this tale and to deliver a different story of Beauty and the Beast. You will see Harper become a warrior princess and decide if she’ll save this kingdom from impending doom, Rhen decide if he truly wants to spend his last season withering away in a castle or if he’ll step up to save his people, and watch how things come into place.

Throughout this entire book, there’s a heavy element that opens up the discussion of responsibility. More specifically about taking responsibility for things you don’t have control over. Whether that be deteriorating health of loved ones or people doing bad things to you and the people you care about. There were so many scenes sprinkled throughout the book that open this discussion and I truly believe it’s important to shine light on that. Some things are out of our control and I think it’s very easy to just take responsibility. If you don’t who will, right? But sometimes it’s not our responsibility, when do we say enough is enough, and I like how it opens up so many discussions around this topic because so many fall to this default.

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”

I also want to talk about the mental health representation in this book. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of mental health representation and struggles throughout this book, and I encourage any reader to practice self-care while reading this book. There were a lot of scenes in this book that were extremely hard to read through. More so from Rhen’s perspective of the book. Rhen undergoes a great deal of trauma and I believe with my whole heart that it is important to say that the trauma and PTSD Rhen suffers is very accurate, valid representation. Not all trauma comes from wars and sometimes it comes from someone mentally breaking you repeatedly, watching the people you love and care for have harm dealt to them. It touched very close to home and I really wanted to shine light on that because in society we don’t often talk about trauma or PTSD and the best way to break the stigma is by talking about it more. I also liked seeing the representation for mental strain, guilt, and the waves of grief we see Harper go through in the first couple of chapters of being separated from her mother and brother. One thing that isn’t often talked about is the guilt and mental strain someone can feel when they’re miles away from a loved one who is terminally ill. Seeing that representation with Harper in the first couple chapters of this book, it hit close to home and I know for many readers this will also hit home. There will be a lot of hard moments to read through in this book, but the representation of mental health is so accurate and I hope more readers will shine light on it.

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t give this book five stars. What really hindered my thought process and impacted my reading was the odd pacing and length of this book. There were chapters in this book that felt like it was just dumping information or details while there were other chapters that felt like they went by too quickly. I don’t often say this, but for the length of this book, I think the author could have introduced either Grey’s or Lilith’s perspective, have that three point of view situation, and I would have enjoyed it far more. Normally, I don’t like more than two point of views, but I truly believe the author could have really made this interesting with adding that third perspective instead of just giving us Harper and Rhen.

Overall, this was definitely a unique spin on Beauty and the Beast. I think if you’re a lover of Beauty and the Beast or retellings then you will probably want to add this to you list. And this is a trilogy! So there’s two more books right after this one and you bet your apple pie I’m rooting for Grey and Harper to end up together, someway, somehow. However, I don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series. I haven’t heard enough about the second book to consider picking it up. Maybe in the near future I will though, you never know. I am a sucker for a retelling!

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection ❤️

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The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, death, grief, scene of depression, anxiety, scene of body shaming, verbal abuse, scene of assault, alcoholism/alcohol abuse, trauma/PTSD, scene/talk of terminal illness

“She was a girl held together by knitted yarn and magic.”

Dee Moreno hasn’t had the easiest life and things just got worse when she gets the news that the boarding school has to give up her scholarship. Without the proper funds and a family who refuse to help, Dee has run out of options. So naturally the logical thing to do is make a pact with a demon. But everything comes with a price, Dee just doesn’t know it…yet.

Friends, I adore Emily Lloyd-Jones’ writing and the tales she weaves. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to love this as much as I was hoping I would. However, I’m pleased to say that Emily has a fantastic way of tugging on my heart strings and capturing my attention when I least expect it! I loved the characters, I loved the way my emotions were heightened at the end of this book, and there were so many moments that truly caught me off guard. If this tells you anything, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future works by Emily because I truly love the way she creates a story and I love the she can pull me in to her stories.

The Hearts We Sold is about a girl named Dee who has run out of all options. Her parents aren’t the best support system, she about to lose her scholarship at the boarding school she goes to, and her college funds her grandmother left her are locked away until she turns of age. With no other options, Dee seeks out the demon from the hospital she volunteers at. She makes a pact with the demon; in exchange for funding to stay after her boarding school, she will leasing her heart to the demon for two years and joins his heartless troops in sealing portals/rifts.

Heartless Troops

❤️ DeeMain character, worked hard all her life to attend her boarding school, comes from a toxic home life

❤️ JamesArtist, childlike and quiet one of the group, this is his second troop

❤️ CalProdigy and genius, bomb expert of the group, has really fascinating theories, gave up his heart for a noble cause

❤️ CoraTroop leader, very secretive, never talks about her pact with the demon, gets her heart back in two months

Important Side Characters

❤️ DaemonContacts the troop with information on the rifts/portals, secretive, cares about humanity and his troops

❤️ GemmaDee’s roommate and best friend, lesbian, and a total badass

❤️ RileyReplacement for Cal, bomb expert, transgender, Gemma’s girlfriend

“I chose this.”

I loved a lot of the themes in this book. There is a heavy focus on parental abuse throughout this entire book. I think this is one of the first fantasy books that I’ve read that address how parents can be verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive. It really shines a light on how abuse comes in many forms and the toll it takes on the people involved. There are bits and pieces of physical abuse throughout this book as well, however, it doesn’t out shine the other forms of abuse. This book also shows how abuse and alcoholism can go hand-in-hand with one another. As someone who has lived a similar home life that our main character Dee has, I can say that this accurately depicts the reality many children in the world face. How parents will choose the addiction of the bottle over the well-being of their family. It’s very rare that I see this is fantasy or even in YA in general. Knowing there’s a book like The Hearts We Sold is out there shining a light on that sparks some hope in my soul.

This book also hits home with shining a light on how your parents’ problems aren’t your responsibility and that sometimes you have to make the choice of choosing yourself over family. It really stresses the importance of getting away from that kind of environment and situation. It also shows how not everyone can get away (Dee wasn’t even able to leave her family right away either), but you can’t allow yourself to be stuck taking care of your abusers. However, this is the reality for many out in the world. I truly wasn’t expecting this book to hit the reality I underwent as a child and teenager. There were so many of these moments that were highlighted and weren’t easy to get through. I sobbed so much because it was like looking through a window to my past and for many who read this, your own reality.

And of course, we have to talk about the amazing representation in this book! I stated above about Gemma and Riley, but they truly great characters. Not just for their lgbtq+ representation, but also their background as well. Gemma comes from a very supportive family and she even had a great coming out. While Riley’s life highlights the struggles many transgender teens face with parents not being understanding or accepting of their choice. We also have great anxiety representation. Throughout this book, Dee is in a constant state of anxiety and really shows how the the little things can be triggering for someone with anxiety. I really loved the representation and being able to see the anxiety take on many forms throughout this book.

“She reached down, found his hand with hers. Their fingers tangled, wrists pressed together. No pulse between them.”

The ending of this book was probably my favorite thing throughout this whole story. The way everything unfolded was so beautiful and so heart wrenching that I was in tears when I finished this. Not to mention, I truly believe that just from the way this book ended, a sequel could be written. I truly was a beautiful surprise and I think many readers will fall in love with how it ended.

I also have to say how happy I am that this book subtly shows the found families element into this book. It’s very subtle, but it’s there and this books shows how important it is to have that. I loved that The Hearts We Sold put a spotlight on how important it is to have people in your life who truly love you unconditionally. Watching Dee realize that, it was one of the best things to watch unfold in this book.

However, there’s two things this book had that really prevented me from giving this book a five star. I will keep this as spoiler free as I possibly can because I do feel that these two pieces are spoilers. One of the heartless troops undergoes a great deal of trauma and stress. This whole situation ends up leading to a chain of events that turn out really shitty. This character’s actions are never addressed and the other heartless troops just have to conclude that even though this character did a terrible thing, literally having a psychological breakdown and going off the deep end without trying to think things through, they have to support that character and just accept that they’re all in it together. These events bring a whole new level of the heavy mood this book already delivers. If all of this had played out in another way, I think I would be okay, but all of these chain events just really left me with mixed feelings and I couldn’t see past all the horrible actions that were taken by the one character.

“This was how normal people survived their own fairy tales. They became their own kind of monster.”

Overall, I truly did enjoy this book. I really loved how Emily included the bits of Lovecraftian world-building into this book, I loved the detail that was spent on Dee’s relationship, and I really loved the bit where Gemma pulled out an axe! There was just some really great things about this book that I truly loved and it left me feeling very soft. I definitely think many readers will like this book for the fall season, but also struggle with some on the contents within this book. Either way, I hope more readers give this book a chance!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends ❤️

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Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle, #1) by Adam Silvera

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one. murder, grief, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, abandonment, graphic violence, scene animal/creature fighting/abuse, death of a creature, body shaming, paranoia

ARC was given by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (January 14th, 2020)

“Your humanity is what makes you heroic, not your powers.”

It’s no secret that I love a book that has good mythical beasts especially if they’re dragons and phoenixes. This book had me hooked and fully excited to see how phoenixes would be woven into a ya fantasy. Top that off with a super hero element, you had me. However, while I was overly excited for a book full of magic and mythical beasts, I did become exposed to a lot of negative reviews early on. So when I had finally received an arc of one of my anticipated books of 2020, I was a worried about picking it up. Friends, I truly wish I could say that the start to 2020 kicked off with a good start, but this wasn’t the book for me and my heart is incredibly heavy admitting that. I truly wanted to love this book with every fiber in my being, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

Infinity Son follows the perspective of four characters throughout this entire story. I will leave a breakdown below. Emil and Brighton have always dreamed about becoming heroes someday, but at some point, Emil reached a point of wanting all the fighting to stop while Brighton only wants to join in the fray of it all. Among all this chaos and fear, a gang of specters have been rising from the shadows and getting bolder every day, making peace nearly impossible. Then one day, Emil and Brighton get caught up in a situation that leads to Emil developing his own powers and nothing will be the same ever again.

Different Classes

🔥 Humans – Just like you and me!

🔥 Celestials – Born with magical powers. Example; the ability to heal any wound, controlling wind or fire, etc…

🔥 Specters – Steal powers, violently takes the essence of magical creatures

POVS

🔥 Emil – The “chosen one,” ability is that of a phoenix, wants nothing except for the war to stop and there to be peace

🔥 Brighton – Power hungry and thirsty for fame, brother to Emil

🔥 Maribelle – Member of the Spell Walkers, wants vengeance for the death of her parents, hates the leader of the Spell Walkers

🔥 Ness – Specter, shape-shifter, mysterious, wild card of the story-line, love interest to Emil

Each character plays an important role in the development of the story and offers their own experience and personal view of the events taking place. With so many character point of views, it’s very easy for a lot of the details and plot to get muddled together. There’s also a lot that happens in each perspective that causes a lot of the povs to be more character driven than actual story-line or plot driven. All of this aside, every reader will find someone they’re strongly drawn to regardless if they’re a side character or one of the main characters.

Characters aside, I love the story telling built around phoenixes and hydras in this book. As I mentioned before, I love phoenixes and a lot of the details the wove around the phoenixes, the way they live and rebirth themselves, and just the symbolism of what they stood for in this book just took hold of my heart. Same for the hydras. Hydras are a species of dragons and they appear all throughout legends, stories, mythology, and of course, MTG. They symbolize power and strength, and they were no exception in this book. I wish we had received just a little bit more with the background and relationship between hydras and phoenixes, but I won’t complain with what we got. However, I do want to point out that there is a scene in this book between and phoenix and a hydra that is very similar to animal fighting in the real world. While these are mythical creatures, I wanted to point this out because there are details of how the creatures are handled and treated. It’s even to the point that Emil is even internally recognizing that both creatures are terrified and are being forced into a situation that has been caused naturally.

I want to take a moment to truly appreciate Prudencia. I loved her as a side character and I loved the way she showed her love, her loyalty, but also how we got to see her moments of fear, sadness, frustration. Also, I just know in my soul she is going to play a much bigger role in this series and I can’t wait to see her bring her full potential to the table. She’s such a treasure and she’s one hell of a friend to Emil and Brighton.

I also have to mention that I love the way therapy and seeking help is handled in this book. I loved that there was an open invitation for Emil and his family to seek guidance and counseling to navigate the tough, emotional strain they were all put under. I also liked that we get a few scenes of therapy session and how it was normalized and worked in to everything else happening in the book. And I really loved how Emil decided to have a private session and voice his struggles, his concerns, and his fears. That was one of my favorite scenes because Emil is so vulnerable, but we see him realizing and deciding he can’t work through this on his own.

And of course, I have to mention the wide variety of family dynamics. We get so many diverse family situations in this book and I loved every second of it. We have an aunt and niece dynamic, a widowed mother of two, there’s an adopted element thrown into the mix, there’s so many and I don’t want to spoil them all because some of them do play into the plot. But it was so great reading about so many different families in this book. It truly made my heart warm even if many of the situations weren’t the greatest.

I also want to point out ow much I loved Emil and Ness near the end of this book. More specially there’s a scene where Emil is body shaming himself and Ness says the most wonderful things. The whole scene is very pure, very raw, and becoming comfortable with one another. It just made my whole heart swell with so much love and appreciation. Despite everything this book does (and it’s a lot), this scene had me awing, crying, and I never wanted that scene to end with them parting. I loved it so much. And just so you know, their connection is very slow burn and that good enemies to lovers trope.

“You should only feel beautiful to yourself. And only be with someone who gets that you’re beautiful because of who you are.”

Despite all of the good this book has and even though there are many, many moments that I loved and wanted more of, there were also a lot of things that I didn’t enjoy and even now am still bothered by. For starters, I mentioned before this book is a four character pov, but I’m not a fan of 4+ character pov. I feel like important details get lost because the majority of a book is spent building up the characters and then we’re getting backstories when we should be getting more of the story-line or hitting a plot twist, something should be happening. It was also really troublesome because we have two povs that go from being a unique povs to being completely laced with hated, jealousy, anger, immense vibes of craving power; especially near the end where it seemed like these two povs really showed their true colors of absolute hostility. It just left a never ending bad feeling with my reading experience.

Now, I understand every television show or book has one, but I thought it completely unnecessary to have Brighton act like a complete fool and make idiotic decisions for two-thirds of the book. For the majority of the book, Brighton was making extremely poor choices to the point of it putting the team or mission in jeopardy, the situations being frustrating because he’s so hot-headed and won’t listen to anyone, and it made me not want to read through his parts throughout this book. The same thing with Maribelle. Majority of the book we have Mariabelle either being disrespectful to the Emil or the team captain and being spiteful towards her or we just get parts of her completely obsessing over the death of her parents instead of seeing her being productive and helping the team. They were both frustrating and irritating characters to the point of them being my least favorite parts of the book, and any scene with them in it had me dreading their parts.

And we need to have a serious talk about Emil’s character development. There are many times in this book where Emil could have had potential character development, but instead we just receive development of his powers. For the majority of the book or at least two-thirds of the book, Emil spends it having panic attacks in thinking he’s going to die or he’s talking about how much he doesn’t want to be a solider in this war. The only time we really see Emil setup in this book is during events that something happens to his brother. I also have to address that Emil never once steps up and calls anyone out on side characters pressuring him to do things he doesn’t want to do. For example, near the beginning of this book therapy is made an options, but Emil didn’t want to go to therapy because he was internally trying to work things out. Instead of the other characters leaving him be, his own brother and best friend trick him into going to therapy and forcing him to sit through a session. Situations like this, Emil could have taken charge, told everyone to back off or just leave him to figure it out, but instead Emil just silently endured these situations instead of speaking up for himself or standing his ground. Despite all of this, Emily is still a great character and one of pure heart, but he definitely deserved more moments for development that were outside of his powers.

I also want to point out to those who read comics often or have read them enough will find that this book seems like a comic book written in a ya fantasy format. What I mean is this feels like a graphic novel or comic turned into a thick book when this feels like it could have done really well as a comic. Also, there are large parts of this book that feel very familiar to situations and scene that have happened in the Marvel and DC Comic universe, more specifically with the Justice League from DC Comics and X-Men from Marvel. Due to that feeling, the last third of this book became very predictable and was a very familiar story-line/plot that I’ve seen a lot in those type of graphic novels before. So that last third of the book really left a lot to be desired especially since this book seemed so unique and original in the beginning up until that part.

Aside from all of this, the biggest issue I had with this book was this constant feeling of hopelessness throughout the book. Once it hit about 50%, it was like a switch got flipped because there was an immense sense of dread and hopelessness. And following that, the way this book concluded left me feeling drained and left me feeling terrible. So much happened at the end and it was like one terrible thing after another. There was no ending on a good note or even a climatic cliffhanger, it left on a terrible note of darkness, dread, death, and spite. Not the kind of ending I was expecting and definitely not a satisfying one.

Overall, this was just an okay book for me. It wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t the greatest. For me, this book left a lot to be desired and I had my hopes pretty high for this. While I’m sad that one of my anticipated releases of 2020 didn’t live up to my expectations, I truly enjoyed a lot this book offered. There were many things that I loved seeing like the different powers and the phoenix history, the different family dynamics, the great moments of vulnerability Emil shows, the talking and displaying of “it’s okay to go to therapy and seek out ways to work things out,” there were so many more great points this book offered. I will definitely continue this series. I believe this series is going to be a trilogy and I’m excited to see how these characters grow and develop. More importantly, I’m ready for more phoenix and hydra action!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

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Content\Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, sexual content, anger issues, death, murder, talk of torture, poisoning/drugging, forced marriage, talk of a female sacrifice, scene of implied sexual assault/rape, trauma/PTSD, violence, physical assault

“I was no one’s sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”

I can’t believe what I just read. I laughed, I crying, I cringed, and I nearly ripped my book in half reading, devouring this book. Honestly, this was everything I needed to keep me out of a terrible reading slump and this book might be the most polarizing book that I have read thus far in 2019. There was so much good, there was so much bad, but overall, I loved reading this book and I think I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on Serpent & Dove.

Our tale follows our main character, Lou who’s a witch on the run from her coven, forsaking magic and living off whatever she could steal. However, due to a series of unfortunate events, she lands in the hands of the Archbishop and a Chasseur by the name of Reid Diggory who becomes Lou’s newest protector and husband. With the war between the church and the witches on the horizon, Lou is faced with the most difficult choice she’ll ever have to make in her life and love makes fools of us all.

I loved Lou as a character right from the very beginning. She’s very cunning, incredibly intelligent, she has so much sass, and I was living for every moment with her. I also really loved how Lou’s scent was cinnamon and how it ties back to her love for cinnamon rolls. It just made me truly happy. What I connected most with Lou was the way she hid the scar on her neck. It clenched my heart in such a hard grasp and I couldn’t stop yelling at the pages “I understand!” I also really loved her friendship with Coco. Just from what you read in this book, the amount of love and the fierceness of the desire they each have to protect one another is just a friendship after my own heart. I’m a firm believer of protecting your loved ones with a large amount of loyalty, fierceness, and love; their friendship added ten years onto my life. Speaking of Coco, I’m obsessed with her! I truly wished we had received greater detail of Coco because she is such a bright flame in this book. She’s a blood witch and the way she fights just catches my breath every time.

I also really enjoyed the magic system in this book. Lou is a Dame Blanche witch which means their magic comes from the land and with their magic coming from the land there must always be balance. So if you take something then you must give something back for what you’ve taken. For example, if Lou wanted to unlock something then she would have to break a finger or there’s a scene where a witch is burning at the stake and to easy the witch’s pain, Lou took the pain away by transferring the pain to herself and her own body. You also have Coco who is a Dame Rouge witch or a blood witch and for the magic she does, everything requires blood. So that could mean Coco pays the price with her own blood or she may require the blood from an animal or another person. For example, in the beginning to keep track of Lou and Bas during a heist she required a drop of blood from each of them. There were so many other moments where we really get to see the magic system at work and I truly loved every moment.

I also want to take a moment to appreciate how some of these characters are morally grey. Characters like Reid and Lou are both morally grey who struggle between what’s right, what’s wrong, and everything in between. I love morally grey characters and how they respond to the events and the world around them. It makes them more relatable and it truly allows room for fear and shock because as the reader we can see ourselves and our own actions in a morally grey character over a character who’s painted in black and white. One character named Ansel. He’s a Chasseur “in training” and we see so many amazing points and those morally grey characteristics coming out. Those characteristics really come through when Lou disappears and Reid is lost in his own inner turmoil. Even though he is a Chasseur, he boldly states multiple times how Lou is his friend and how he doesn’t care if she’s a witch because he’s seen her personality and true character in the times where it counts. Ansel is a precious cinnamon roll who needs to be protected and I would give up my soul for him.

“Our lives reflect our hearts.”

With all of this good, of course there will be flaws. Before I truly get into the problematic material, if you have read and finished this book then I definitely recommend checking out the video made by Jeese at Bowties & Books. They have a lot of good points, address a lot of the issues, and a lot of my own thoughts align with the things they have to say. Now, onto the issues!

As much as I love a lot of the things in this book, my biggest issue is the lack of Indigenous representation and the poor way the culture and history is represented. It’s no secret that I take a lot of pride in my Native American heritage and I even tried to convince myself that maybe I was just being overly sensitive and just need to recognize that this is a fantasy world, but the bottom line is that no effort or attempt was made to do research or include actual Indigenous people who had their land historically stolen. This book puts a heavy emphasis on how the land was stolen from the witches and how a long time ago foreign countries came to the land of the witches and stole their land by force, hunted them down and killed them, and colonized their land. The whole entire thing made me extremely uncomfortable because even today a lot of people forget that foreign countries came and invaded the United States, stole the land from the Indigenous people, wiped out many tribes in the colonization of the United States, and what remaining tribes there are now live on reservations. So in my opinion, if you’re going to write about history that actually happened then there should have been research, there should be actual representation of the culture and the history that you’re pulling from, and there should be more inclusion of characters that are from that culture.

My other top issue is the way Reid treats Lou a lot of the times. Reid gets very possessive and clingy of Lou and the situations that really draw attention are the scenes where he has his hands on her and adds enough force that it’s described as a tight grip, but not to the point of physically hurting her, followed up by giving her commands which then get looped back to them being husband and wife. There’s also a moment in the book when Reid gets bothered by Lou hugging a character, by the name of Pan, for hugging too long even though they’re long time friends. While Reid and Lou do have many moments that are sweet and endearing, seems like they’re becoming closer, and let’s be honest that sex scene was 11/10, but Reid has severe anger issues and has used his anger openly towards Lou that has caused her to flinch in response and there was a really weird, uncomfortable scene with Lou concerning consent and marriage. All of this mixed together spells for toxic behavior and a relationship that clearly needs improvement.

There were many other things that had irritated me or made me cringe, but those were the two biggest issues I had with this book that I can’t stop thinking about. And I think it’s important that we recognize and acknowledge these things so they can be corrected and fixed in future books to come.

“There are some things that can’t be changed with words. Some things have to be seen. They have to be felt.”

Overall, I think I’m the odd one out with this book. Since this book has released, it has become a very polarizing book. I know so many friends who have hyped this book and I have a couple friends who ‘dnf’ this book, and odd enough, I fall smack dab in the middle with it all. There were things that I loved and things that I found very problematic with this book, but I still enjoyed my time reading this book and I don’t have any regrets. And I think no matter where you fall with this book, your thoughts and opinions are valid. I did buddy read this book with a wonderful friend and she had an amazing time reading this book. I think my critical reading came through and hindered my reading experience a bit, but I firmly believe you can read a book with problematic material and still enjoy your reading experience. So I liked this book. Isn’t wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t super outstanding, it was a book that made me want to keep reading with it’s fast pace. I think if you’ve been debating on picking this book up, I say go for it!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review ❤️

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Graphic deaths, graphic violence, grief, talk of suicide, talk of cheating, scene and talk of domestic abuse/violence.

“It shouldn’t matter what your parents did, just what you do as a person.”

Once there were twelve lovely sisters, sheltered and raised in the manor of Highmoor, but was once a home filled with love and chatter is now filled with loneliness as four of the sister have had their lives cut short. One death is more tragic than the last and there’s whispers that a curse has fallen upon the family of Highmoor. When some ghostly vision are soon brought to life, Annaleigh starts to suspect that her sisters haven’t died by accident. With the help of the mysterious Cassius, Annaleigh will uncover the truth behind the deaths of her beloved sisters.

Oh my gosh readers, I’m absolutely in love with this book in so many ways! I was really nervous on where I would fall with this book due to all the hype, but I’m happy to say that this book is worth all the hype you’ve been hearing. There’s so many wonderful elements, true sibling bonds, curses, and talk of gods and demi-gods! What more could you want in a book?! I’m just so head over heels for this book and I can easily say that it has made it’s way onto my top books for 2019!

We follow a main character named Annaleigh who becomes disturbed by the ghostly visions that are come to her youngest sister. Soon, Annaleigh is trying to uncover the secrets that are lying within the house and the people among it, and possibly the curse that looms over Highmoor. I loved Annaleigh as a main character! She was such a breath of fresh air when it comes to so many things. Throughout this book she never let anyone tell her how to feel and she stood her ground in what she believes. And the way she loves her siblings, regardless of how unreasonable they are or how they treat her, it was something I resonated with so much. I truly lived for Annaleigh’s character in this book.

“All the dreamers are castle-bound. At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind, Revealing fantasies soft or unkind. Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams. Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”

Speaking of characters, Cassius was a pleasant surprise! I never thought a character like him would be introduced into the picture, but I loved the way his personality and Annaleigh’s personality meshed so well with one another. They had such a great amount of chemistry. Whether they were interacting at Highmoor or they were interacting on the mainland, they really clicked for me. The way the two of them interacted was so good and their little moments together was such a highlight especially as the reading pace begins to pick up. He really becomes an anchor for Annaleigh and his presence was just a calming experience through the eerie and darkness of this book. I think he is definitely my favorite character out of this whole book.

And if I haven’t sold you on this book yet, with Annaleigh being her true self and the mysterious Cassius, then the atmosphere is definitely one you’re not going to want to miss. The deaths are terrible and tragic, the funerals are just as unnerving, and if that isn’t enough to send a chill down your spine then the thought of ghosts haunting a manor and the general history of the manor will. I constantly had a chill slithering up my spine as a read this book. There are so many parts throughout this book that are dark and twisted that will have you gaping as scenes unfold before your eyes. The atmosphere was rich with paranormal events, secrets and lies, and a creepy setting you won’t forget.

My only true issue with this book was one of the side characters by the name of Camille. Camille is currently the oldest living sister to Annaleigh and she’s to inherit Highmoor when their father dies. At first, I didn’t mind Camille’s character and I kind of shrugged her behavior off, but then her behavior and her actions became very repetitive. Camille is a very selfish, entitled character who constantly wants to go to the ball to find a man. She also never takes the times to listen to her sister and brushes it off as her being crazy or wrapped up in all the grief. Her behavior would happen at such inappropriate times that it almost became a distraction from the main story line. I think many readers will be furious or annoyed with her character and I definitely think her character has the potential to cause a person to stop reading this book altogether.

“Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was constantly on my toes trying to figure out who was behind everything or was it all some strange dream. I was fully engulfed in the story line and plot of this book. Plus that romance, it was subtle, but I was living for every moment between Annaleigh and Cassius! I really wanted to go into far more details than I have with this review, but I whole-heartedly believe this is a book you should know very little about. And besides, if you’re looking for a book to read during the autumnal season then I highly recommend this book.

Buddy read with Robin from Paperbacks and Planners

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of abusive parent figures, captivity, grief, loss of loved ones in the past

“I always thought they were so sweet together.”

Dearest reader, I completely fell head over heels for Mooncakes! From the black cats to the witchy magic, to unconditional family love and found family love, to the struggles of becoming the person who you want to be and on your own time, to wise butt-kicking grannies, to the cutest F/NB relationship I have been waiting for, my heart is so full and I’m so in love with this graphic novel! My heart is so full!

When news of strange activity happening in the woods reaches Nova, she ends up following a white wolf into the forest. Not knowing what to expect, she certainly wasn’t expecting a demon horse to appear out of nowhere fighting her childhood best friend and crush. Teaming up together (and some witch-tastic grandmas), Tam and Nova will help one another, but find each other all over again. And soon, they’ll uncover the dark intentions lurking in their own town and real power of werewolf magic.

Aside from all the paranormal and magical goodness happening in this book, the characters will have you falling in love. Our first main character is Nova who’s Chinese-American who’s still coping with the death of her parents, while also living with her two grandmothers (they are seriously the cutest), and is also hearing impaired. And our second main character is Tam who’s also Chinese-American, is nonbinary and a werewolf who grew up with Nova, but recently left their family for mistreatment and for unkindness.

If you still haven’t fallen in love yet then let me add on with both of our main characters are young adults who are still learning and discovering things about themselves, both together and separately. Both Tam and Nova are dealing with hurt from their parents and even though they’re both two different kinds of hurt, they’re both supporting one another through their struggles and challenges with unconditional love. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces and it’s so beautiful to watch these two characters connect with one another is so many ways. It’s beautiful, powerful, and my heart is still melting and sobbing from how this graphic novel concludes.

Overall, I’m always here for a queer book with magical elements and paranormal activity, sprinkled with lots of family bonds and unconditional love. This was everything I wanted for the fall season and I’m so glad that I picked this book up! The representation was fantastic, the artwork is absolutely stunning, and magical/paranormal elements are so good. If you’re looking for some cute, full of meaning and underlying messages, and something quick to pull you out of a reading slump then you need to read this book before the fall season is over with!

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The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, grief, death of an animal

“The living had a tendency to make promises they could not keep.”

Nothing stays buried forever.

Ryn only cares about two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And both seem to be hanging by thin strings. The existence of a gravedigger is slowly being pushed aside and Ryn’s family is barely scraping by in their small village. There’s just one catch…the dead don’t always stay buried. Some say an ancient curse is the cause of the bone houses rising, but when a mapmaker by the name of Ellis arrives in town, things will never be the same again. The bone houses are becoming more aggressive and only Ryn can put a stop to their terror. Teaming up with Ellis, Ryn sets out on a journey to put an end to this curse and stop the bone houses, once and for all.

Readers, I loved this book immensely. I devoured this book and I never wanted to put this book down. Anything that has any for of necromancy, I am always here for it and this book is no exception. There’s necromancy, a subtle romance, and a hilarious goat that can’t stop, won’t stop! I’m hear for all of it and now I’m convinced I need to read more work by this author. I never anticipated this to become one of my favorites of 2019, but here we are and so excited to tell you about it.

Our story is split between two perspectives. We have the perspective of seventeen-year-old Ryn who’s a gravedigger and loves her family with her whole heart. She’s a strong-headed lady who would do anything to protect her family and their graveyard from falling into the wrong hands even if that means bargaining and taking jobs to guide weary travelers through all kinds of danger. There’s also the perspective of Ellis, a simple mapmaker who has found his way into Colbren. Unfortunately for him, his first night arriving to the village ends up with him being attacked by a bone house. Fortunately for Ellis, he meets our daring heroine Ryn. Ellis has a mysterious past and there’s more to him that meets the eye. With Ryn being backed into a corner from the bone houses venturing out of the forest to trying to prevent her family from losing their home, Ryn quickly accepts the offer of being Ellis’s guide for his map making the minute he mentions it. Thus our unlikely pair being their journey.

“Pain doesn’t make a person weak or strong, pain just – is. It’s not a purifier, it’s a part of living.”

This book was everything my heart needed for the month of October. There is a main theme of family means everything in this book. Ryn is very family focused from protecting her siblings to waiting for her father to return one day, Ryn would do anything for them. I also really loved how open Ryn was about her fear of losing the ones she loved and cared about. I definitely saw myself a lot in Ryn’s character. Ellis has no idea who his parents are. On this journey he’s trying to track down his parents and where he came from. We also have a goat who rose from the dead as a bone goat to follow Ryn and protect her from any harm that may find them on their journey. There’s just a strong sense of family throughout this book and it made me so soft, sappy, and a little weepy. I’m a very family oriented type of person and I would do anything for my own family. So reading this book was like a piece of my soul imprinted on the pages.

We also get amazing chronic pain representation in this book. Our main character, Ellis, has an old injury that he has to cope with. When the pain from this old wound flares up, he has to use willow bark to help. Ellis also talks about all the various treatments he had to undergo while under the care of his prince. My heart ached so much for Ellis. As someone who suffers from chronic pain and has family members who also suffer from chronic pain, Ellis was so relatable and a lot of the details that are talked about are very accurate. Chronic pain is one of the more lesser medical conditions that get talked about especially in books. The fact that we get so many moments of Ellis battling the pain, taking into account his medical supply, and the scene of him trying to tell Ryn about his injury and his pain, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

I also have to take a moment to talk about the goat in this book. I swear, this goat was a hilarious highlight of this whole book. This goat follows Ryn and Ellis on their journey to protect them from anything that may want to cause them harm. This goat pops up at the most ridiculous times, but at some of the most important moments as well. This goat scales a wall in the mine sideways, but acts like a guard dog while Ellis was in immense pain. I loved this goat and is was a great little bit to keep the mood light at times. I’ll admit, I was really rooting for that goat to be magic!

I am going to add a little breakdown right here, spoiler free. This book is broken up into three parts and this breakdown will help you get an idea of what each section holds.

💀 The LivingThis sets the scene. We’re introduced to Ryn and her siblings, their financial situation, and details of the town. We also learn about the bone houses. We also met Ellis in this section. Ryn offers him guidance throughout the this section and eventually offers to be his guide into the mountains.

💀 The DeadThis is where the journey begins. Everything that happens to Ryn and Ellis on their journey happens in this section. Ryn and Ellis also begin to reveal more about themselves to each other. We learn about Ryn’s Uncle and Ellis reveals his chronic pain and injury. Also, a lot of battle along the way and some subtle romance brewing!

💀 The AfterThis is Ryn and Ellis after the bone houses have been stopped and the curse has been lifted. Both of our main characters are figuring out what the future holds and what it means to keep on living.

“I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.”
“And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.”

There are only two things to this book that I think many readers will have issues with. The first issue is the dialect. There’s a very “olden time” dialect that gets spoken throughout this book and if you’re not used to seeing or hearing dialect like that then I think it will be challenging for any reader. The other issue is the ending of this book. Without going into spoilers, I’ve talked about this with my buddy reader and a few other readers who have also finished the book, who felt that the ending was very predictable or hinted to far too soon in the book. Now, this wasn’t the case for my reading experience. I was so fully caught up in the moment, the action, and how everything was unfolding that it didn’t really register with my reading experience. However, that is something to be aware of if that’s something that might impact your reading experience.

Overall, I loved this book with my whole heart and soul! It was the perfect book for me to read right now and I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off or set it aside. It truly is a wonderful book to read for the spooky season and even in the fall in general. There’s so many wonderful, hidden messages in this book and it will truly warm the heart. Plus necromancy! Who can refuse a book with necromancy happenings taking place?! What a read for this spooky season!

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection

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Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/murder, graphic content, trauma, talk of gender dysphoria, minor transphobia

“It gets better. It never gets easy, but it does start to hurt a little less.”

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have been disappearing under all the right conditions with all the love and care they could hope for. Slipping through cracks, fading into the shadows under their bed, falling deep into the pits of a well, or stumbling through the back of the wardrobe… only this time they find themselves some place new, some place magical. But these lands come with a price and besides, what magical realm has use for a miracle child who’s used up all their luck…

Every Heart A Doorway follows the journey of Nancy, a pale girl who wants nothing more than to tumble back down her door. A door that leads to ghosts and for her, a life of being the perfect statue. She’d not the only child who lands at the home for Wayward Children. Oh no, plenty of children under Eleanor’s care understands the longing and desire to go back through their door, just like Nancy does. But Nancy’s arrival isn’t the only thing that shakes things up. Something evil begins to lurk in the shadows and when tragedy strikes, Nancy will find herself teaming up with outcasts yet some new friends to solve the reason behind the dark deeds brewing at the Home for Wayward Children.

“Death was precious. That didn’t change the fact that life was limited.”

If you would have told me I’d be thrown down a rabbit hole and become obsessed with this series, I probably would have awkwardly chuckled and ate some popcorn. Now, I’m in so deep. So deep that I already ordered the next two books in the series because I know I’m going to binge read the daylights out of this series! And I already have the fourth book lined up in my cart! It was so good and I still can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read Every Heart A Doorway!

Seanan McGuire is a legend from packing this book with so much representation! I can’t begin to list how many books I’ve read that barely had any representation, if any at all! Not only does McGuire give us a main character who’s asexual, but we get a second main character who’s transgender. Take my soul now! Not to mention, this book abolishes gender roles, but we also get a scene where transphobia is shut down with assertiveness and then there reinforcement of love. It was so wonderful read and simply wonderful.

If you were expecting a book of romance and fairy tales then this probably won’t be a book up you’ll be into. Basically, this book is a murder mystery that takes place inside the Wayward Children boarding school. This boarding school is home to many (seventy some children) children who have traveled through doors that are portals to magical worlds or realms. These children have spent so much time there that they come back changed and they no longer fit into society. You wouldn’t either if all you wanted to do was go back to the place that made you finally feel like you found your place in the world. Home is where the heart is.

“You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

I’ll admit, this book did a few blows to me. As I already mentioned, this book is pretty diverse with it’s characters. But the thing that gut punched me every time was the content of trauma in this book. It’s such an important topic and often times, not many books like to address trauma or acknowledge how important addressing trauma is. In this book, you have all these kids who feel completely displaced and they no longer feel like kids. These kids travel to these mystical realms and it changes them, and unfortunately, it leads to them suffering from PTSD. The worst part is they don’t even have the support they need from their loved ones. Most of these kids’ loved ones don’t believe their children and instead have their children shipped off to this boarding school to get “fixed.” My soul breaks for these children because I have been there and I’m still right there. And Seanan McGuire just hit the nail on the head with trauma because in reality, most kids don’t get the support of their loved ones when they go through traumatic events and they get shipped off to get “fixed” when all they need is someone to say they understand and they’re here for them. Thankfully, we have a character like Eleanor because she may have the ability to open any door at any given time, but she stays in the real world to care for these children who may never go back to their magical worlds.

“We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

Not every child was from the same realm though. Many children at the boarding school were from different doors that led to different magical realms and those realms didn’t always get along well with other realms. Our main character Nancy actually comes from the realm of the Underworld (and yes, we get a name drop of Persephone, my Queen!). The Lord of the Dead makes a promise to Nancy that Nancy will return, but only if she’s “sure” or when she’s truly ready, but being back in the real world throws her some curve balls and suddenly she’s starting to have doubts. As I mentioned, other children at the boarding school had very different realms compared to Nancy. Some children come from places similar to Candyland while others may come from realms that sound more like a world ruled by Dracula to lands that are battle grounds for fairies and goblins. One can never truly know what they’ll find on the end of a mysterious door.

“This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.”

Overall, I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this book. Other than the fact that I wish this book didn’t end so soon. For a book so short, it really packed a punch to my gut and as I had already mentioned, I already ordered the next two books in this series. I think anyone who loves a good mystery and loves fantasy should read this book. If you get the opportunity to read this series and you still haven’t read this series (like me) then let me be the person you need, to tell you to go pick this series up and then come gush about this book with me!

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There Will Come a Darkness (Age of Darkness, #1) by Katy Rose Pool

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ARC was given by Henry Holt and Company via Macmillion in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (September 3rd, 2019)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/mass murder, talk of decapitation, talk of burning people alive, war themes, violence, starvation, trauma/PTSD, grief, loss of a loved one, abuse, torture

“In a moonlight room overlooking the City of Faith, a priest knelt before Ephyra and begged for his life.”

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. 
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

Synopsis from GoodReads

The Four Bodily Graces

🌻 Grace of Heart: Enhances strength, agility, speed, and senses; Wielded by: Elite fighters
🌻 Grace of Blood: Give and takes energy to heal or harm; Wielded by: Healers
🌻 Grace of Mind: Creates objects imbued with unique properties; Wielded by: Alchemists & artificers
🌻 Grace of Sight: Senses and locates living beings; Wielded by: Scryers

Main Characters

🌻 Ephyra – The Assassin, Sister to Beru
🌻 Beru – The Innocent, Sister of Ephyra, dying
🌻 Jude – The Protector, The Keeper of the Word
🌻 Anton – The Gambler
🌻 Hassan – The Prince, trying to reclaim his kingdom

Alright, first off, I completely and utterly recommend this book if you’re a lover of Wicked Saints or Shadow of the Fox. I say this because both of these books have made my top books for 2019 and so has There Will Come A Darkness. There’s also a very similar theme that all three of these books have in common and I’m living for it! I’m going to do my best to make this as reader friendly and spoiler free as possible, but I’m so in love with this book and I want everyone to go pre-order this book immediately. So if you’re not a fan of reviewers who gush about the things they love, this review might not be for you and that’s okay! I still hope you look into this beautiful debut for this trilogy! And if you’re still here then let’s get started!

“She sucked in a breath, shaking herself slightly. Her amber eyes, always disarming to Hassan, held something in them he hadn’t seen there before.”

If you were expecting a book from one or two perspectives, then you thought wrong! Pool uses the five perspectives of the five main characters and delivers an outstanding job of it. Normally, I’m the type of reader who doesn’t like more than three point of views, but Katy made each perspective interesting and shows how some of the characters over lap with one another. It worked really well with this story and I think if the author hadn’t wrote this book in the five perspectives then this book wouldn’t be as captivating and interesting as it is. And with there being so many different point of views, it’ll be easy for readers to learn their favorite and see who they’re truly rooting for while reading.

Now, I said this in Wicked Saints, but I’m back to do it again with There Will Come A Darkness because this little nerd needs to gush a little. I mentioned it before, but let me expose myself again, I love a book that has characters with special characteristics. As I mentioned in previous reviews, I do a lot of D&D and various other RPGs, I do cosplaying, and I do LARPing in my spare time. So, whenever there is a book with characters of certain character classes with special abilities or powers; sign me up, put that book in my hands, and don’t disturb me for the next week or so! I will be in a hole binge reading those books. That’s absolutely what happened with this book. I was so invested in all the characters, in the plot, it felt like I was watching this divided world fall to it’s knees. I was extremely partial to Ephyra and Beru. Immensely for Ephyra because her grace is used for healing and helping others. You know I’m a bit bias when it comes to my clerics and healers. Watching her walk that thin line with her grace, it was heartbreaking and it made me really reevaluate the characters I play. I don’t think a character has imprinted on me in such a way in a long time and to truly become an all time favorite character. I loved these characters with all my heart. Each character will remind the reader of something familiar and every time something would happen or they’d show a little bit of their personality, it was like a blanket of familiarity wrapped itself around me.

And speaking of these characters, I have such an immense love for each of them. None of these characters are good or bad, they’re morally grey and I loved every ounce of humanity they showed in this book. Watching them tread water between light and dark, watching some walk a thin line between doing just enough and doing something terrible, and reading them go through the emotions of things being too much to the moments of hope. I love when characters can display their humanity because it represents reality so much more than characters who are just good or just evil. Even though this book has an obvious villain or threat, all of our main characters tip their own scales of right and wrong. They are neither good nor bad, sometimes they do something they shouldn’t, or they find themselves fighting with the ones they care about most, or even find themselves doubting everything they are, what they represent, and if they really are the answer to making a difference. I truly believe that any reader will find themselves attached to one of these characters based off their personality, their actions, their inner thoughts, and doing what they believe is right even if it may be wrong at times. For me, Ephyra is the one character I’m attached to more than all the others. The bond she has with her sister and everything she does for her sister, how could I not get attached to her. But all the characters are just as good and I catch glimpses of familiarity in them as well. I think any reader will.

“Our Graces aren’t just our power – they’re our connection to the world. Without them we’re just…ash.”

Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down. There are so many good elements infused in this book that made it nearly impossible to put it down. Even when I found myself putting this book down, I was still vibrating from the adrenaline and the need to know what was about to happen next. The pace is fast and I had to take moments to remind myself to breathe. Each page is another piece, another clue, another bit to fill a much bigger picture. I also think the few twists that were added into this book really stirred the pot and it left me wanting more. Wanting more romance, wanting more of the two sisters, wanting more gut wrenching moments – just in a state of wanting because what was given was so beautiful, so heartstopping, so delicious and I need to have the second book now! Please and thank you!

Overall, I’m still trying to catch my breath from this book. This book blew me out of the water, took me by storm, and I don’t know how I can read anything else until I have the next book, in this trilogy, in my hands. This book truly felt like it was made for me and each moment I felt like I was sinking deeper into this world. Pool is going to be an author to watch because her writing is so beautiful in the way she paints her worlds, her characters, and how she can weave everything into a book that will steal your heart and soul. This is the book that reminded me why I love fantasy so much and I think anyone who may be in a reading slump, in need of a fast paced fantasy, in need of a reminder of why fantasy is your genre… you need to pick this book up when it comes out. I think many readers will regret it if they miss out on this book. And I don’t know when the second book is coming out, but you better believe I’m buying myself time until it comes out. I can’t wait!

“But it wasn’t Jude who’d failed to live up to his destiny. It was Anton. By trying so hard, for so long, to escape it, he had nearly doomed the both of them.”

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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