Tuesday 11 June 2024

Review: The Temptation of Magic by Megan Scott

As an Empyreal, Nicole has the ability to kill any deadly supernatural. But if her power ever awakened, the Wake—the organisation that governs supernaturals—would force her to be their loyal huntress. Or kill her, like they did her mother.

To stay safe, Nicole hides in a small university town, convinced the mythological art collection at a local manor contains a final message from her mother. But before she can study it, Kyan McCarter, the Wake’s most skilled Empyreal, arrives on his own hunt. When they discover his prey has stolen a painting for leverage, they’re forced to work together.

As the creature threatens to expose Nicole’s powers, her tenuous alliance with Kyan threatens her heart. If her true identity is revealed, Kyan will hunt her next. No one disobeys The Wake and survives. Especially when the art they’re seeking unveils a conspiracy that would change the lives of creatures and humans forever...

But Nicole may only be able to resist one: her wicked impulses, or a love that could repaint their world. And after a life of hiding her true nature, who could resist the temptation of magic...

📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 23/05/2024  

The Temptation of Magic was exactly what I needed to get out of my reading slump. It reminded me of the 90s YA paranormal books I used to enjoy reading.

I was immediately drawn into the book and found it hard to put down. The pacing was great and I loved the main character, Nicole. I found it easy to root for her, and the romance between her and Kyan was great as well. Fans of slow burn and enemy to lovers will eat this up. The tension between the two had me on the edge of my seat!

The world Scott painted was so fascinating and layered. I enjoyed getting to learn more about it as the story progressed. 

I would recommend this to both romantasy and paranormal romance lovers alike. 

Rating:

Sunday 12 May 2024

Review: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst

Kiela has always had trouble dealing with people, and as librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, she hasn’t had to.

She and her assistant, Caz, a sentient spider plant, have spent most of the last eleven years sequestered among the empire’s precious spellbooks, protecting the magic for the city’s elite. But a revolution is brewing and when the library goes up in flames, she and Caz steal whatever books they can and flee to the faraway island where she grew up. She’s hoping to lay low and figure out a way to survive before the revolution comes looking for her. To her dismay, in addition to a nosy—and very handsome—neighbor, she finds the town in disarray.

The empire with its magic spellbooks has slowly been draining power from the island, something that Kiela is indirectly responsible for, and now she’s determined to find a way to make things right. Opening up a spell shop comes with its own risks—the consequence of sharing magic with commoners is death. And as Kiela comes to make a place for herself among the quirky townspeople, she realizes that in order to make a life for herself, she must break down the walls she has kept so high.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 11/07/2024 

The Spellshop is the perfect cosy fantasy for fans of books like Legends and Lattes.

My favourite character has to be, Caz, the sentient spider planet. His back and forth with Kiela made me smile. I have to admit, being an introvert myself I found Kiela's personality relatable, from her awkwardness to her anti-socialness. The romance was very sweet, and if you're a fan of the he falls first trope you'll enjoy it. The food descriptions made me crave jam and cinnamon rolls, two things I love. As a bookworm I of course 100 percent understood Kiela's love of books and wanting to protect them at all costs. Again relatable. They were her comfort in the absence of human companions.  

The Spellshop is the ideal read with a big cup of your preferred hot beverage!

Rating: 

Saturday 23 March 2024

Review: The Night Ends with Fire by K.X. Song

The Three Kingdoms are at war, but Meilin’s father refuses to answer the imperial draft. Trapped by his opium addiction, he plans to sell Meilin for her dowry. But when Meilin discovers her husband-to-be is another violent, ill-tempered man, she realizes that nothing will change for her unless she takes matters into her own hands.

The very next day, she disguises herself as a boy and enlists in her father’s place.

In the army, Meilin's relentless hard work brings her recognition, friendship—and a growing closeness with Sky, a prince turned training partner. But has she simply exchanged one prison for another? As her kingdom barrels toward destruction, Meilin begins to have visions of a sea dragon spirit that offers her true power and freedom, but with a deadly price.

With the future of the Three Kingdoms hanging in the balance, Meilin will need to decide whom to trust—Sky, who inspires her loyalty and love; the sea dragon spirit, who has his own murky agenda; or an infuriating enemy prince who makes her question everything she once knew—about her kingdom and about her own heart.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 02/07/2024

The Night Ends with Fire is a Mulan re-telling with a twist. I love Mulan so of course I had to pick it up, and honestly it 100% delivered. I will say that the pacing might not work for everyone, as it jumps from one thing to the next quite a bit. I'm usually not a fan of this as I enjoy the journey, however, it worked here. In my opinion, anything extra added between the time jumps would have felt like filler. Instead the pacing was fast and the action kept me hooked and eager to continue reading.

The main character, Meilin, wants more than the lot women are afforded in this world. What sets her apart from your typical heroine is that she is unapologetically ambition and although she has to save the world, her reason for wanting to do so is not selfless. She doesn't want to save the world for the sake of humanity, she wants to save the world to protect her loved ones.  I really liked her relationship with her stepmum, it was heartwarming and a change from the usual horrible stepmum set up. She also tentatively develops a friendship with another female character, and I hope she encounters more in the sequel as I l love seeing women support women. 

The world building was straight forward with no info dumps, making this the perfect read for fantasy novices. I found the concept of the spirits and the magic tied to them to be fascinating. 

Another aspect of The Night Ends with Fire I enjoyed is the romance. I will say that there is a love triangle, but personally it didn't bother me. I know who I'm rooting for and hope that he is end game. I mean, the development of his relationship with Meilin was naturally paced and such a good slow burn.  

Needless to say, I can't wait for the release of the conclusion to this story! 

Rating: 

Friday 8 March 2024

Review: Ghost Roast by Shawnelle & Shawnee Gibbs, Illustrated by Emily Cannon

For as long as she can remember, Chelsea Grant has tried everything she can think of to distance herself from the disastrous damage her father does to her social life. It's not easy to shake her reputation as Ghost Girl when Dad keeps advertising his business as a "paranormal removal expert" in big, bold, loud letters all over New Orleans!

This year, Chelsea's all grown up, attending one of the most prestigious high schools in the city, and she's finally made friends with the popular crowd. Things are looking up—until a night on the town backfires spectacularly, landing her in hot water at home. Her punishment? Working for her dad at Paranormal Removal Services. All. Summer.

Worst of all, her new job reveals an unexpected secret she has to keep: While Dad hunts ghosts with his own DIY tech, Chelsea can actually see them. And when she meets Oliver, a friendly spirit, at the fancy mansion her dad is getting a handsome fee to exorcize, she realizes she has to save his after-life, even if it risks everything her father's worked for.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an advance reader's copy for review from the publisher  

My favourite thing about Ghost Roast is the stunning colour palette and art style. It really brought the story to life for me.

I think this is the perfect graphic novel for the target YA audience. Chelsea struggles with a lot of things that I'm sure teens can relate to such as fitting in at school, coming from a low income background, divorced parents...

The start of Ghost Roast was a little slow, but as the story progressed and the action picked up I become more engaged. The overall tone of it gave me ghost buster vibes, as Chelsea gets roped into helping her dad with his paranormal removal services business over the summer. Apart from the ghost busting or roasting shenanigans it also dealt with some heavier topics. The manor they were hired to investigate was a former plantation so there was discussions of the slave trade and the treatment of POC during that time period.  

I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan of Chelsea's friends and the way they treated her. However, it was a realistic portrayal and my opinion has more to do with me no longer being a teen and as such viewing them from an adult lens. I did like Chelsea's dad's assistant Russ, though. He was a guy of few words but was wise for his age. I also enjoyed seeing Chelsea come into her own and accept herself for who she was. Plus, the not quite romance with the ghost she encounters, Oliver, was very cute. 

Rating:

Thursday 9 November 2023

Review: A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal

On the streets of White Roaring, Arthie Casimir is a criminal mastermind and collector of secrets. Her prestigious tearoom transforms into an illegal bloodhouse by dark, catering to the vampires feared by society. But when her establishment is threatened, Arthie is forced to strike an unlikely deal with an alluring adversary to save it—and she can’t do the job alone.

Calling upon a band of misfits, Arthie formulates a plan to infiltrate the dark and glittering vampire society known as the Athereum. But not every member of her crew is on her side, and as the truth behind the heist unfolds, Arthie finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy that will threaten the world as she knows it.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 22/02/2024

We're nearing the end of 2023 and I have found my first five star read of the year! I think we can all agree that title comparisons are rarely accurate, but trust me when I say that if you're a fan of Six of Crows you will love this. It has all the same ingredients - found family, a diverse cast of characters, a heist, and ship worthy romances. On top of all that there is an all POC cast, vampires, and colonialism! 

A Tempest of Tea is told from the point of view of Arthie, Jin, and Flick. Going back to the Six of Crows comparison, Arthie is Kaz Brekker coded and Jin is Jesper coded, in my opinion. I really enjoyed their brother/sister type relationship, and how Jin balanced Arthie's serious nature with his charm. Both are orphans who have worked hard to make a name for themselves. Completing this trio, there is Flick. She is from a more privileged background and while not quite as interesting as Arthie and Jin, she is no less likable. 

I had a hard time putting A Tempest of Tea down, it was action packed from the get go and the short chapters made it fast paced. It delves into talks of colonialism, which I wasn't expecting but loved. There is even a East India Company adjacent called the East Jeevant Company. I also found the heist aspect of the story, from the planning to the actual execution, to be fun. Add in Vampires, my favourite supernatural creature, and a tea room that turns into a bloodhouse for vampires by night and you've got yourself a winner. 

There are two central romances. Arthie's romantic arc involves a love triangle, but I say that in the loosest sense of the word. I wasn't really keen on the obvious love interest. However, the second and more subtle love interest, Matteo, had me intrigued as soon as he appeared on page. There isn't really anything concrete between them romantically, apart from a very small sprinkle of tension. However, I can see something potentially developing in the sequel. At least, I hope so!

I will say that to me the twist was quite obvious from the start, but that honestly didn't take away from my enjoyment. If anything, I was more invested and wanted to see how it would play out.  If you can't already tell, I absolutely devoured A Tempest of Tea and am so, so excited about the sequel!

Rating:

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Review: All This Twisted Glory by Tahereh Mafi

As the long-lost heir to the Jinn throne, Alizeh has finally found her people—and she might’ve found her crown. Cyrus, the mercurial ruler of Tulan, has offered her his kingdom in a twisted exchange: one that would begin with their marriage and end with his murder.

Cyrus’s dark reputation precedes him; all the world knows of his blood-soaked past. Killing him should be easy—and accepting his offer might be the only way to fulfill her destiny and save her people. But the more Alizeh learns of him, the more she questions whether the terrible stories about him are true.

Ensnared by secrets, Cyrus has ached for Alizeh since she first appeared in his dreams many months ago. Now that he knows those visions were planted by the devil, he can hardly bear to look at her—much less endure her company. But despite their best efforts to despise each other, Alizeh and Cyrus are drawn together over and over with an all-consuming thirst that threatens to destroy them both.

Meanwhile, Prince Kamran has arrived in Tulan, ready to exact revenge…

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher    
📌 Publication date: 15/02/2024

All This Twisted Glory was one of my most anticipated releases of 2024, so I was excited to see it available for review. I loved the first two books in the series and gave them 5 stars, so it hurts to give this one 3.5 stars. 

Let's get into why. I enjoyed the small glimpse of Cyrus we got at the end of book one and hoped we would see more of him in the sequel. Also, that he would become a love interest, as I wasn't a fan of Kamran. Tahereh delivered both of these things in These Infinite Threads. I loved the development and exploration of Alizeh's and Cyrus' relationship in the sequel, and how much page time was spent on this. One of my issues, however, with All This Twisted Glory was that Cyrus' POV was included. Let me preface this by saying that I was actually pleased when I first heard that his POV was going to be included. It's unfortunate then that it became one of the downfalls of the book. Being in Cyrus' head changed my view of him. He went from being a cool, mysterious love interest to an angsty emo boy. The internal angst and lack of dialogue from his POV was too much. Don't get me wrong, I felt for him because he has certainly been through a LOT.  It's just that the constant moping got tiring after a while. The romance was the thing I was most looking forward to, so it's a shame that having his perspective somewhat killed it for me. It was better when we only saw him through Alizeh's eyes, in my opinion. Another frustrating thing is that while we do learn more about Cyrus, we still don't know why he entered into the bargain with the devil. 

I forgave the sequel for the lack of action, but All This Twisted Glory was lacking in action as well. It was mostly full of angst and internal dialogue. I love me some angst and yearning, but being three books into the series I needed more, I wanted to see Alizeh finally become a queen and rally her people. Still, I'm continuing to root for her. With her kindness and compassion, she reminds me of a Disney princess. 

I continue not to like Kamran, but his POV was the best as it featured Miss Huda, Deen, Omid, and Hazan. They brought the comic relief and much needed dialogue. I also confess to shipping Kamran and Miss Huda. Like the tension and quips between these two? It was giving hate to love. His reactions to her and the way she wound him up was so funny. I mean, when he finally gets over Alizeh and opens his eyes to what a catch Miss Huda is, I can see her helping him on his journey to become the man he has the potential to be.

Despite some issues, I'm still invested and looking forward to continuing with the series. 

Rating: 

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Review: Heart of Night and Fire by Nisha J.Tuli

For years, Zarya has been trapped in a gilded prison. Her magic is forbidden, a dangerous secret—though nobody will explain why. Now she is ready to break fr
ee and find the truth.

Escaping to the dazzling city of Dharati, Zarya discovers a new world of enchantment and intrigue. With the help of seductive, blood-drinking rakshasa and magic-weaving Aazheri sorcerers, she searches for answers.

But the city is under siege. Every night, dark creatures attack. And since Zarya’s arrival they are growing stronger. To protect her new home, Zarya joins the fight.

As she battles on the walls and hunts through libraries for clues about her gifts, Zarya’s dreams are haunted by a mysterious stranger. Powerful, arrogant and handsome, Rabin sees through her secrets and ignites a desire she cannot resist. But can he be trusted?

When darkness threatens to overwhelm Dharati, Zarya is faced with a deadly choice. Will revealing her magic save the city? Or destroy everything she loves?

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher   

From the acknowledgments: "For every brown girl who wanted to be the chosen one too".  I mean, to say this spoke to me would be an understatement. Heart of Night and Fire was a fun read, the perfect palate cleanser between the other books I have been reading. It features an all POC cast and is inspired by Indian mythology. I can see how some people might find Zarya to be more of a YA character than adult, but to me her rashness, and what might be seen as childish behaviour, made sense in context. Imagine being forced to live in isolation with no explanation as to why, no knowledge about your past, with only two men for company - one of whom has put a magical barrier in place to stop you from escaping. With only her romance books for company, her naivety and curiosity made sense. While I will say that she frustrated me at times, she also grew on me as not only did she develop but her relationship with the other characters developed. 

The world was interesting and featured Rakshasa, who are basically vampire like creatures. I love vampires so that was a nice surprise. In terms of the Indian inspiration, the familiar clothes and food such as Kaju katli, gulab jamun, and aloo paratha was a treat to see in a fantasy setting. 

There is a love triangle of sorts. However, by the end of the book her relationship with one of the love interests all but comes to an end and the other one we're teased with. It was obvious from the moment she started having dreams of Rabin that he was being set up to be the true love interest. Zarya doesn't actually met him for real until the towards the end of the book, and I have to say from what little we do see of Rabin I was not a fan of. He came across as a hot headed alpha male.

On the other hand, Zarya's relationship with Yasen was cute. I love a good platonic relationship, and while theirs was great I have to admit they had more chemistry than the actual love interests. It was giving hate to love. 

With three more books to follow this was a solid introduction. 
 
Rating: