Thursday 22 February 2024

Review: A Crane Among Wolves by June Hur

Hope is dangerous. Love is deadly.

1506, Joseon. The people suffer under the cruel reign of the tyrant King Yeonsan, powerless to stop him from commandeering their land for his recreational use, banning and burning books, and kidnapping and horrifically abusing women and girls as his personal playthings.

Seventeen-year-old Iseul has lived a sheltered, privileged life despite the kingdom’s turmoil. When her older sister, Suyeon, becomes the king’s latest prey, Iseul leaves the relative safety of her village, traveling through forbidden territory to reach the capital in hopes of stealing her sister back. But she soon discovers the king’s power is absolute, and to challenge his rule is to court certain death.

Prince Daehyun has lived his whole life in the terrifying shadow of his despicable half-brother, the king. Forced to watch King Yeonsan flaunt his predation through executions and rampant abuse of the common folk, Daehyun aches to find a way to dethrone his half-brother once and for all. When staging a coup, failure is fatal, and he’ll need help to pull it off—but there’s no way to know who he can trust.

When Iseul's and Daehyun's fates collide, t
heir contempt for each other is transcended only by their mutual hate for the king. Armed with Iseul’s family connections and Daehyun’s royal access, they reluctantly join forces to launch the riskiest gamble the kingdom has ever.

This is my third book by Hur and I'm happy to report it's another hit! Hun has created yet another compelling historical mystery set in Korea. I loved learning about Korea in the set time period and the mystery aspect was intriguing from the get go.  

I'm not going to lie, I was really looking forward to what the author promised on Instagram to be an enemies to lovers romance. After having read A Crane Among Wolves I can say that Hur really delivered on the promised romance. I was rooting for Iseul and and Daehyun from the moment they encountered each other. Talk about a swoon worthy romance! 

The book is around 360 pages which means the pacing is fast and there is never a dull moment. I loved the characters and the storyline had me glued to my kindle, with out a doubt one of my favourite books of the year so far!

I honestly can't wait to read more from June Hur!

Rating:

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Mini review: Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou

Descendants of the Fates are always born in threes: one to weave, one to draw, and one to cut the threads that connect people to the things they love and to life itself. The Ora sisters are no exception. Io, the youngest, uses her Fate-born abilities as a private investigator in the half-sunken city of Alante.

But her latest job leads her to a horrific discov
ery: somebody is abducting women, maiming their life-threads, and setting the resulting wraiths loose in the city to kill. To find the culprit, she must work alongside Edei Rhuna, the right hand of the infamous Mob Queen—and the boy with whom she shares a rare fate-thread linking them as soul mates before they’ve even met.

But the investigation turns personal when Io's estranged oldest sister turns up on the arm of her best suspect. Amid unveiled secrets from her past and her growing feelings for Edei, Io must follow clues through the city’s darkest corners and unearth a conspiracy that involves some of the city’s most powerful players—before destruction comes to her own doorstep.

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Publication date: 30/05/2023
Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review 

Threads That Bind was one of my most anticipated releases of 2023, and it did not disappoint! The world building was so unique and fascinating. I was sucked into the world right from the get go. I also loved how subtle yet sweet the romance between Io and her love interest Edei was. Io herself was a wonderfully layered and complex main character. Plus, the plot was very engaging, there was never a dull or slow moment. I honestly cannot wait for the sequel!  

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:

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Review: The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett

One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth?

Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up.

Of course there's also the matter of the dead body. W
ho could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 26/10/2023 

I loved The Appeal, so I was looking forward to reading The Christmas Appeal.

A few things to know before going into it: If you haven't read The Appeal I don't think you'll enjoy this. In my opinion, it's for people who are already fans. While I once again liked the epistolary style, and thought it was nice being re-united with the quirky cast of characters, I have to admit I was let down. I went into it thinking it was going to be a full length novel, but at around 200 pages, it's actually more of a novella. The mystery, if it can even really be called that, doesn't come into play until much later in the book. I will confess that had I known this before hand I might not have been so eager to read it. Overall, The Christmas Appeal was a quick and somewhat fun read, but not really the great mystery I was hoping for. 

Rating: 

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Review: The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon

All Talasyn has ever known is the Hurricane Wars. Growing up an orphan in a nation under siege by the ruthless Night Emperor, Talasyn has found her family among the soldiers who fight for freedom. But she is hiding a deadly secret: light magic courses through her veins, a blazing power believed to have been wiped out years ago that can cut through the Night Empire's shadows.

Prince Alaric, the emperor's only son and heir, has been forged into a weapon by his father. Tasked with obliterating any threats to the Night Empire's rule with the strength of his armies and mighty Shadow magic, Alaric has never been bested. That is until he sees Talasyn burning brightly on the battlefield with the magic that killed his grandfather, turned his father into a monster, and ignited the Hurricane Wars. In a clash of light and dark, their powers merge and create a force the likes of which has never been seen.

Talasyn and Alaric both know this war can only end with them. But a greater threat is coming, and the strange new magic they can create together could be the only way to overcome it. Thrust into an uneasy alliance, they will confront the secrets at the heart of the war and find, in each other, a searing passion--one that could save their world...or destroy it.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher  
📌 Publication date: 12/10/2023 

While The Hurricane Wars didn't work for me, I'm sure it will be a hit among romantasy fans. 

Fun fact: The Hurricane Wars started out as Reylo fan fiction. So, in terms of the relationship between Talasyn and Prince Alaric we have: an age gap, small girl vs. big boy (which I don't hate on principle, but it gets tiring when constantly mentioned), and of course an enemies to lovers romance. I wasn't really invested in their romance, because I wasn't invested in them as individuals. Which is a shame as I thought the tension between them, and the pining on his part was great. Plus, the spicy scene was well written. I mean, if you enjoy the boy falls first and is obsessed with the mc trope you will love this. 

The word building was confusing, I couldn't imagine any of it. My biggest issue was that everything was centered around the romance. Personally, I love a good romance in my fantasy but I need the world and the plot to be better developed.

The ending of the story didn't pack a punch, it was very meh. While I am somewhat curious to see where the story goes next, I highly doubt I will be picking up the sequel.

Rating: