Thursday, June 01, 2023

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Title: Fourth Wing
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Genre: NA, Fantasy
Series: The Empyrean # 1
Hardcover, 512 pages 
Publication: May 2, 2023 by Redtower Books
Source: Personal Library
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.



There has been so much hype for Fourth Wing it’s literally everywhere. Whenever a book garners that much attention, it falls into two categories; extremely loved or hated. The hype was right! Fourth Wing has been called The Hunger Games of our time but with Dragons. I agree! The book takes place at Basgaith War College, training young adults in a career to help serve their kingdom of Navarre. There are four paths one could take,they can become a healer, scribe, infantry, or rider. We follow our main heroine, Violet, as she navigates the Rider Quadrant training and fighting to bond with a Dragon.

The cool thing about Fourth Wing was seeing a character with a medical disability being portrayed. Violet’s condition is similar to EDS, which is a disease that weakens connective tissues. It means a person has loose joint and thin skin that can easily bruise, along with weaken vessel and organs. In the book readers are told and shown this and the main heroine accepts this fact, that she’s different from her peers but she never once let it stop her from doing what everyone else was doing. Not only was she capable of doing the same tasks and activities, but she also excelled at all of them. I love a underdog.

Violet overall was a good heroine. I loved seeing her growth over the course of the book. It was more realistic as the story spanned the course of almost a year. Because of her differences she worked twice as hard as her peers. There briefly looked as if there was going to be a love triangle but thankfully her childhood best friend Dain wasn’t much of a contender. And gosh, how I loathed him. Have you ever met someone who tells you what to do under the guise of knowing what’s best or them trying to protect you? Or gives backhanded compliments? That’s Dain in a nutshell. Then there’s Xaden, an enemy of the family. Xaden is the certifiable bad boy in the entire school. He’s dangerous and deadly and yet he never mistreated or treated Violet differently. He treated her as his equal and went as far as making her stronger and better. He did a lot for Violet…things that would make any girl swoon lol. The rest of the cast were great. There was another character that I adored and was absolutely crushed that he didn’t make it in the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed Fourth Wing more than I expected to. The plot and pacing was action packed and kept me engaged at the edge of my seat till the very end…an ending I didn’t see coming! All the raves I’ve been hearing about this series starter were correct because this book was addicting. I love the world and characters and am so excited that we won’t have to wait too long for the next book which comes out at the end of the year!





Thursday, May 25, 2023

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Synder
Genre: NA, Fantasy
Series: Chronicle of Ixia # 1
Paperback, 368 pages 
Publication: September 27, 2005
Source: Personal Library
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...



I was in the middle of a reading slump jumping from book to book and nothing grabbed my attention. I had Poison Study on my TBR for years and decided to read it on a whim hoping to get out of the slump. That certainly did the trick! I cannot believe the book has been out for over 15 years and I’ve never read it! It was so, so good, way better than I expected.

Poison Study follows nineteen-year-old Yelena who recently escaped the noose and was given somewhat of a second chance at life by becoming a poison taster for a high commander. Imagine your life on the line with each bite and sip you took. But that’s not all. A general under the commander wants Yelena gone and won’t stop at nothing until he accomplishes it.

I absolutely loved Yelena. She’s intelligent, resourceful, kind but also doesn’t ever back down from a fight. Yelena’s growth from the beginning of the book till the end was incredible to witness and yet she’s barely tapped into her full powers. Valek, Yelena’s teacher and love interest, was also a great male lead. I enjoyed seeing the slow shift that their relationship took. However, after realizing there was such a big age gap between the two, it didn’t sit too well with me.

This series is beloved by many and although I never read it when it was first published; reading it now shows that this book truly stands the test of time. And oddly relevant in 2023. The current obsession and trend right now is Romantasy or Fantasy Romance (whatever you want to call it) and Poison Study rivals everything currently on the market and out shines them easily. I cannot wait to continue Yelena’s journey and other novels in the Chronicles of Ixia.






Thursday, May 11, 2023

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Divine Rivals
Author: Rebecca Ross
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: Letters of Enchantment # 1
Hardcover, 368 pages 
Publication: April 4, 2023 by Wednesday Books
Source: Personal Library
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.



Divine Rivals was my biggest surprise this year. Why? Because I didn’t know or hear about this book until AFTER it came out! But even then, the synopsis didn’t really sound interesting. And it wasn’t until after being out for two or three weeks did I start seeing the book everywhere. As I scrolled through social media/Book Tok I kept seeing it mentioned repeatedly. The reviewers were glowing and raving about how much they loved the book and how it flew to be their favorite top five books read…EVER. Now I was intrigued! I am so, so glad that I took the chance because I ended up loving this book so much. Without a doubt a five-star read! This was my first time reading a book by Rebecca Ross despite owning three of her recent novels. Divine Rivals follows two young journalists tied together by a magical typewriter in a WWII-like setting. Except the war was among the gods. Upon starting Divine Rivals, I discovered it wasn’t as I expected and honestly the synopsis did a horrible job at capturing the book unless that was its intended purpose? But I guess it ended up being a good thing for me because I was pleasantly surprised at how the story unfolded.

Our heroine Iris’s brother is out fighting in the war, and it’s been months since she heard from him. In her grief she continues writing him letters knowing he wouldn’t hear from her. But someone else did. Iris ends up receiving replies to her letter via her closet from a mysterious person named Carver. What developed over the course of the book was a journey full of grief, love, and discovery. Divine Rivals is a historical fantasy, but it was very minimal on the fantasy aspect. At times I thought it lent more or was confused with its being magical realism. The war scenes were also kept to a minimum, but I didn’t mind. I was more focused on the main couple of the series. Readers were told of fantastical creatures and terrifying gods, but we didn’t see them until middle, end of the book. But in my opinion, it felt more like glimpses. The best part of the book were the main leads and reading their letters to each other. I normally don’t like the letter entry style, but it worked for Divine Rivals. The author also mentioned that the book was intended to be solely from the heroine’s POV but I’m glad she added in snippets of the male lead because it added another dimension to the story. 

Divine Rivals is my first five-star review of the year, and it deserves all the hype and accolades it has thus garnered so far. I loved the enemies to lover trope without the male or female leads needing to be cruel or distasteful to one another which quite honestly is a breath of fresh air when this trope has been heavily exhausted and twisted in some books that I’ve seen. I think the book title sums up the overall feeling one can expect going into this book. I cannot wait until the next book; Ruthless Vows comes out! I need more Roman and Iris!





Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten

Title: The Foxglove King
Author: Hannah Whitten
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Nightshade Crown # 1
Hardcover, 466 pages 
Publication: March 7, 2023 by Orbit Books
Source: Personal Library
When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city.

Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan. Entire villages on the outskirts of the country have been dying overnight, seemingly at random. Lore can either use her magic to find out what’s happening and who in the King’s court is responsible, or die.

Lore is thrust into the Sainted King’s glittering court, where no one can be believed and even fewer can be trusted. Guarded by Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk, and continually running up against Bastian, August’s ne’er-do-well heir, Lore tangles in politics, religion, and forbidden romance as she attempts to navigate a debauched and opulent society.

But the life she left behind in the catacombs is catching up with her. And even as Lore makes her way through the Sainted court above, they might be drawing closer than she thinks.



The Foxglove King was one of my most highly anticipated novels of 2023. While I haven’t read Whitten’s other work, I have heard of her books which had mix reviews. Which gave me a bit of trepidation about starting The Foxglove King. But I’m happy to say that The Foxglove King not only met my expectations but also exceeded it. The Foxglove King had all the major tropes such as prophecies, being the chosen one, political court intrigue and a love triangle. I don’t mind tropes when they’re done well and all these tropes in The Foxglove King were tastefully done.

I thought the magic system and political structure in The Foxglove King were fascinating. There is no separation between church and state, they’re basically one entity that governs everyone and everything. In Dellaire there are two types of magic; mortem which is death magic and spiritum, life magic. Most of those sanctioned by the church wield mortem and while it’s said that the Sainted King descendants wield Spiritum, there is so far only one person gifted with the ability. Another interesting thing was poisons, Dellaire’s premier drug choice, it wasn't only prevalent in low society but also in the prestigious courts. The only difference was the rich could extend their life by drinking antidotes to counter act their addictions. I thought this was a clever and unique way to look at poisons. As I haven’t seen it done in any other book.

What made this book for me were the characters. I loved Lore, Bastian, and Gabe. Each character was memorable and well developed. There was so much depth to them, and I liked learning the backstory because it reinforces their person and the choices they made. Lore was a great lead; she may be flawed and scrappy but has a big heart. Gabe had the whole enigmatic brooding male lead down to a pat. I loved it! And Bastian was the court’s most beloved and handsome prince. He was the biggest surprise for me, but I won’t delve too much into it to keep it spoiler-free. While the overall plot of the novel is to solve a mystery there is a slow burn romance playing behind the scenes. I love that the author didn’t go full on out like most of the romantasy these days. The “spice level” is very mild and tamed. I like that it’s just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity and attention. Honestly more tasteful in my opinion. Plus, as a reader I read for character development not looking for graphic smut.

I very much enjoyed The Foxglove King and can’t wait to read the next book in the Nightshade Crown series. It’s been a few weeks since I finished the book and yet I think of the world and characters often. So much so, that it makes me want to do a reread…a feeling I don’t get often when I finish a novel. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy some of the tropes I mentioned above or if you like character driven stories and intriguing world building.




Wednesday, March 01, 2023

A Trial of Sorcerers by Elise Kova

Title: A Trial of Sorcerers
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy
Series: A Trial of Sorcerers#1
Hardcover, 364 pages 
Publication: March 4, 2021 by Silver Wing Press
Source: Personal Library
Ice is in her blood.

Eighteen-year-old Waterrunner Eira Landan lives her life in the shadows — the shadow of her older brother, of her magic’s whispers, and of the person she accidentally killed. She’s the most unwanted apprentice in the Tower of Sorcerers until the day she decides to step out and compete for a spot in the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.

Pitted against the best sorcerers in the Empire, Eira fights to be one of four champions. Excelling in the trials has its rewards. She's invited to the royal court with the “Prince of the Tower,” discovers her rare talent for forbidden magic, and at midnight, Eira meets with a handsome elfin ambassador.

But, Eira soon learns, no reward is without risk. As she comes into the spotlight, so too do the skeletons of a past she hadn't even realized was haunting her.

Eira went into the trials ready for a fight. Ready to win. She wasn't ready for what it would cost her. No one expected the candidates might not make it out with their lives.



I’ve been wanting to read A Trial of Sorcerers since it first came out, but because it's part of the Air Awakens World I held off. I read the first Air Awakens book recently which was great and I thought I had enough knowledge of the world to attempt A Trial of Sorcerers. With that said, while it's not necessary to read the Air Awaken or Vortex chronicles (a spin-off of Air Awakens) first, I would recommend reading them in order. There were a lot of spoilers and I kind of wished I did.


A Trial of Sorcerers was a mash-up of The Last Air Bender and Harry Potter. The story is centered around a Waterrunner sorcerer, which in its name is a person with an affinity for the water element. Eira reminded me a lot of Elsa from Frozen, even the cover illustration was eerily similar in its depiction. Eira was very similar to Val, the FMC of Air Awakens. A young unassuming girl who turns out to be all-power, the best elemental user in her group. Like Val, Eira was always seen as the book smart underdog that no one notices…well except the most handsome, most popular boy in the school/kingdom. It was a very special snowflake vibe which I’m kind of getting tired of.


And as I mentioned before, Eira was depicted to be super intelligent but yet she made a foolish mistake one after another. She had incredibly poor judgment or lack thereof which resulted in harming not only herself but those around her. It wasn’t only reckless or selfish but just plain stupid. Like the title, the book mainly revolves around trials that’d help determine which four sorcerers will represent the Solaris Kingdom in the Tournament of Crowns. It’s not a surprise that Eira is a contender but of the four trials, only one she truly utilized her skills (history/book smarts). The rest was either due to dumb luck or cheating. 


I had high expectations going into A Trial of Sorcerers but was disappointed at the lack of substance and variety in the characters, plot, and backstory. I honestly feel as if the author recycled the characters and storylines and resorted to the same formula and tropes of her first novel/series. I mean, she does have four series all part of the same world. Despite all of this, I’m a tiny bit curious about what will happen when they reach Meru. Still debating if I should continue with the series or not. All in all, would I recommend this book? Perhaps if you’re new to the author and haven’t read any of the other Air Awakens World novels, then sure, why not. 





Monday, February 06, 2023

Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb

Title: Seven Faceless Saints
Author: M.K. Lobb
Genre: Fantasy YA
Series: Seven Faceless Saints #1
Hardcover, 400 pages 
Publication: February 7, 2023 by Little Brown BFYR
Source: I received a review copy in exchange for honest review.
In the city of Ombrazia, saints and their disciples rule with terrifying and unjust power, playing favorites while the unfavored struggle to survive.

After her father’s murder at the hands of the Ombrazian military, Rossana Lacertosa is willing to do whatever it takes to dismantle the corrupt system—tapping into her powers as a disciple of Patience, joining the rebellion, and facing the boy who broke her heart. As the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo security, Damian Venturi is expected to be ruthless and strong, and to serve the saints with unquestioning devotion. But three years spent fighting in a never-ending war have left him with deeper scars than he wants to admit… and a fear of confronting the girl he left behind.

Now a murderer stalks Ombrazia’s citizens. As the body count climbs, the Palazzo is all too happy to look the other way—that is, until a disciple becomes the newest victim. With every lead turning into a dead end, Damian and Roz must team up to find the killer, even if it means digging up buried emotions. As they dive into the underbelly of Ombrazia, the pair will discover something more sinister—and far less holy. With darkness closing in and time running out, will they be able to save the city from an evil so powerful that it threatens to destroy everything in its path?



Seven Faceless Saints was one of my most anticipated reads of 2023, and it certainly didn't disappoint! Within the first few pages, readers were thrust head-first into a murder mystery. A Disciple (those with power) of Death was found murdered in his room and Damian, The Head Security of the Plazzo was tasked with finding the person who committed the crime. What initially looked like a isolated incident turned into a serial killer on the loose. With the assistance of another Disciple and Damian's former flame, the two set out to solve the murders...only to discover a more sinister plot that can destroy both of their world.

The novel takes place in the city of Ombrazia where Disciples rule with an iron hand. The next group in the hierarchy are the guards that protect the city, despite being born without powers. And finally, at the bottom are the unfavored, those without gifts/abilities, mortals that the city deems disposable and are often drafted off to the army to fight a never ending war.

I found the world building very interesting and well-done. Lobb's detailed description and explanation was straightforward and easy to understand.
Like the title says, there are seven saints, with each Disciple specializing in an ability to help serve the city. For example The Cunning Disciples specializes in poison, and Patience's Disciples deals with black smith metal work. I liked the dual narration, with each chapter alternating between Roz and Damian. We get to see each perspective on the situation and what they're feeling. Each alternating chapters connects and continues the dual narrating flawlessly, its like experiencing the character's emotions in real-time. I found it refreshing.

I thought Roz and Damien were great leading characters. Despite being somewhat polar opposite, they really complement one another. Roz was an impulsive big fireball of rage but ultimately wants equal rights for the citizens of Ombrazia. Damien is the opposite, always calm, composed and does everything by the book. His purpose is to serve, protect and find justice no matter a person's background.

I enjoyed Seven Faceless Saints, it kept me on edge and guessing all the way till the end. The plot was full of action and suspense, twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I loved that the villain was so unpredictable. I was shocked when it was revealed. And that ending...Superb! Seven Faceless Saints is the start to what I predict to be an amazing series. I can't wait to see what Lobb has in store for us in the the next book!