Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance

My Review: These Wicked Lies (These Wicked Lies #1): by Miranda Joy

Publish Date: June 22nd, 2022
Number of Pages: N/A
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

I’m not in the mood to murder someone tonight, but I must.

– Miranda Joy, “These Wicked Lies”

What It’s About:

the official synopsis:

When a princess with the ability to absorb and transfer life force energy discovers her mother, the queen, is manipulating her, she works with unexpected allies to steal the throne, battling magic-induced anxiety and unexpected attractions along the way.

Astrid is a vygora—a rare being that can absorb one’s life force energy and transfer it to another with a touch. Only two people know what she’s truly capable of: her best friend, Ilona, and her mother, the Queen of Hakran, a powerful myndox.

When foreign royalty and their handsome guard, Dashiel Dargan, show up unexpectedly with the ability to mute myndox manipulation, Astrid discovers she’s been a prisoner to her mother’s power her entire life, and she’s not the only one. Faced with a lifetime of memories built on lies, she’s caught between the story she thinks she knows, and the one she doesn’t remember.

But when she can’t trust anyone, how can she figure out which story is true?

~~~

This book actually already holds a special place in my heart because I’ve actually become a friend with the author on #bookstagram! NO, she’s not bribing me with this review in any way, shape, or form either…in fact, with this information I’m actually feeling more pressure NOT to make this a simply glowing review of the book.

BUT I can admit it’s become so cool to meet someone who’s published a book and that it’s totally a book you wanted to read too!

Okay so back to this review: For a debut novel, this was a pretty impressive story to get into. It was so easy to get wrapped into this world and meet Astrid, who’s more than just a regular Princess. She’s got some depth to her, and some morally gray traits to her personality. She’s got some fire to her spirit!

She’s feeling very conflicted in her position: Princess by day and lifeforce sucker by night. She disguises herself in a veiled costume and takes the life of a willing victim as a sacrifice in order to pass it to her mother in order to keep her alive and keep their whole island safe. The seeds of doubt were already planted that something more nefarious may be going on with all this, but it takes some foreign company visiting their lush island home to really set things in motion.

I’ll be honest, I got some major From Blood and Ash/A Shadow in the Ember vibes from this book, which isn’t a bad thing! If anyone reading this has followed my reviews on here, they should know the FBAA series is a big favorite of mine! I wouldn’t say this even comes close to copying it , TWL definitely still feels like it’s own entity, but I can definitely see some comparisons between the two or possibly the author even drew some inspiration from the story! Who knows?

Reading this book, I was easily sucked in to the exotic and tropical world the author created, and created fun and familiar dynamics between the cast of characters. Dashiel and Astrid had some great chemistry and lots of playful banter—think a similar vibe to Cassian and Nesta in the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas—and I really got into their slow burn romance throughout. Dash was an easy guy to like, and Astrid wasn’t afraid to humble him and put him in his place when he (maybe) needed it.

The midpoint got a little slow for me, only because we already knew about the Queen’s manipulation of Astrid and her people because it’s in the synopsis, so that part wasn’t all that shocking to see develop. There is a question of which side everyone is on exactly, and the unknown of what everyone’s intentions are definitely keep you interested. Astrid and her friend Ilona grow closer to Dashiel and Prince Zale, but also more weary of them as questionable behavior shows; there’s definitely more going on beneath the surface.

You meet Lex later on in the story, and once again complete and total mystery surrounds him, but he’s a major character believe me! He’s not just a random addition to the story at all…

The ending sequences are the piece-de-resistance of the whole book. I’ll admit I didn’t see it coming, and it certainly leaves you with a brow-raising expression, and the final page ends on a dark and sexy way that leaves you yearning to see what could possibly happen next, and also wanting the next book, like, yesterday.

Once again, even if I didn’t get to personally know the author, I’d say this is a pretty remarkable debut novel that shows so much promise for bigger and better things! Miranda Joy is certainly a name to remember if she keeps this up!

~~~

I hate how alluring his accent is. I hate how everything sounds good coming out of his mouth, even my impending death.

– Miranda Joy, “These Wicked Lies”

What I Liked:

  1. Astrid is a Morally Grey Heroine! I love it when the MC’s have a dark side to them, they just become so much more interesting of a character. Everyone complains that Superman is boring because he always takes the moral high ground, and I have to agree. Astrid has dangerous magical abilities, and she also isn’t afraid to get violent when needed. the anxiety of all that happens to her and all that everyone isn’t telling her really wears on her psyche, and even I can agree sometimes it can just drive you a little crazy and want to pull a dagger on someone *shrugs*
  2. That Twist Towards the End! I totally didn’t see this twist coming towards the end, and the best ones are like that but they also totally make sense when you think about it afterwards. Bravo to the author, it was wonderfully done!
  3. Dash! Helloooooo new addition to my book boyfriend list! Dash was hot, not much more to say. I will however say that I’m curious what kind of decisions he’s going to make in the next installment in this story. It will be a determining factor as to how this relationship between us is going to continue and if we can stay together…we’ll see!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. You Don’t Meet A Major Character Until Much Later In The Book…Their appearance into the story raised a lot of questions, which I suppose is a good thing to get the reader to keep with the book, but part of the questions had me wondering if he really was an important character at all to be begin with. Part of me wonders if maybe this character made more appearances throughout the beginning a little more, even if they were short and brief, that this could’ve made the last minute addition feel less confusing?
  2. The Twist With The Queen…Part of got a little bored with the middle because the mystery of the queen wasn’t really even a mystery: we knew she was evil/the villain even from the synopsis of the book. With that already revealed, part of the allure wasn’t there, and I feel like it would’ve made the story stronger if we (the readers) discovered it for ourselves.
  3. I Want More Spice…This isn’t really a critique, but more a hope/request/plea: book two needs more sex. And don’t worry, I did say this to Miranda, and she confirms there will be 😉

Conclusion:

Overall, this was such an entertaining read that I for the most part really enjoyed! The warm and tropical climate and how things get heated in more ways than one makes for a fun book that I think fans of Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, and Jennifer L. Armentrout would enjoy. It definitely shares a lot of the similar elements that these ladies of romantic fantasy used to put their names on the map!

I will definitely be reading the next book in this series; Miranda Joy ended it in such a juicy way, how could I not?

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy

My Review: Fire Heart (The Dragon of Umbra #1): by Emma Hamm

Publish Date: January 31st, 2022
Number of Pages: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance, New Adult, Young Adult

Total Star Rating: 2 Stars

‘Lady of Starlight,’ he murmured, then stepped so close she could count the gold flecks in his eyes. ‘My fire heart. Live for me, and I will lay a kingdom at your feet.’

– Emma Hamm, “Fire Heart”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

They handed her a sword and bid her to take a throne…

Lorelei is half elf in a kingdom where that bloodline is synonymous with “slave”. The Umbra King holds everyone captive with his pet dragon who knows no mercy. She hides in the shadows and steals to stay alive, until a rebel group gives her an offer she can’t refuse.

The King seeks a bride. If she can get close enough, she could drive a dagger into that wicked man’s heart. But the bridal games are more difficult than most. Lorelei must prove herself not only beautiful, but talented, poised, and deadly as the king. However, the closer she gets to saving her kingdom, the more she realizes a singular problem stands in her way.

The dragon.

The King’s bodyguard is more than a slathering beast. He’s a man. And the longer she’s near him, the more she realizes that perhaps the king isn’t the most dangerous person in the kingdom. Perhaps she had to guard not only her body, but her heart. For a dragon mates for life, and they’re hard pressed to give up their treasures.

~~~

It’s always disappointing when a book that has all the variables, all the tools, all the story aspects, or whatever you want to call them…it’s disappointing when a book has all these that you love in a book, but it doesn’t end up being as good as you’d hope it to be.

I was made aware of this book when it was chosen as the adult book for Bookish Box–a monthly subscription box for fantasy and paranormal romance genres–under their adult box from earlier in 2022. The premise drew me in, and it sounded like a good enemies-to-lovers fantasy-romance title from an indie author who upon doing a little research, had quite a following!

I eventually got my own copy with the hopes of reading it ASAP because I was really drawn to this story by the premise that had me excited because it sounds right up my alley, and the gorgeous cover to boast too! It was giving me Throne of Glass vibes with the badass blonde heroine on the cover with a ferocious dragon just behind her.

I’m not saying this is a bad book by any means, I never say a book is outright bad unless the author does something that is so tone deaf that I wonder how their book ever got published…but that isn’t the case here. The author knows how to write and she obviously knows her craft; her following especially on Amazon reviews show for it, but I just didn’t connect with this book anywhere close to what I was hoping I would. The story just had too many clichés that I couldn’t look past, the characters felt so stiff and wooden to me that I didn’t connect with them either, the villain was very one-dimensional, and there just didn’t really feel like there was a sense of urgency in this story at all either.

I go more into these reasons why later on in my review.

I’m also trying to not judge the book too harshly…it is the first book in a series, and as a fan of many YA Fantasy title, I have seen many times before where the first book is usually the weakest book in a series because it’s merely setting the scene and then the series grows and becomes its own thing as you keep reading. Case in point, the Throne of Glass series. I can see readers not wanting to read on because of that book and the many things that are considered cliché in that book, and those of us who have read that series know that SO SO SO much happens after that, so here I am hoping that this may be the case for this series as well too.

~~~

You are a thousand questions and a million truths just out of my reach.

– Emma Hamm, “Fire Heart”

~~~

What I Liked:

  1. An Interesting Premise! The synopsis gave me much hope I’d really like this book! I mean, an enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance book with elves and dragons?! Yes please!
  2. A Twist I Did NOT See Coming! I’ll admit the author added in one twist that I didn’t see coming at all, and I’ll happily point it out whenever an author manages to do this! I won’t give any spoilers, but just remember that not everyone is as they seem…

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. A LOT of YA Fantasy Clichés…nameless mean girls, the competition to win the heart of the king, the one-dimensional villain king, the “I’m not like most girls” mentality of the main character, instalove…I don’t know, but the clichés definitely overtake any original ideas this book had, I think this is why I found myself so bored with this book.
  2. Characters Felt Very Stiff and Wooden…I really did not connect with anyone at all. They all felt so one-dimensional and stuck within the familiar character archetypes that I’ve seen before. There was hardly any personality shown, or really any slower scenes to merely show them as actual people. the plot merely drove them forward without really giving them a chance to really breathe and show them as actual people in my opinion.
  3. The Enemies-to-Lovers Could’ve Been Stronger…The fact that instalove happened between Lore and Abraxas made it feel like a very weak Enemies-to-Lovers storyline…this could’ve been drawn out for their romantic feelings to happen later, and maybe not feel so forced…
  4. The Stakes Could’ve Been Raised…I didn’t really feel a sense of urgency with this book as Lore infiltrates the castle and tries to kill the king. Very little consequences happen with what happens in the book, and I think this also adds to why I struggled with this book.

Conclusion:

Overall, Fire Heart was an underwhelming book that I didn’t connect with, much to my disappointment. It had all the things I love in my favorite books, but just didn’t deliver as strongly as I was hoping it would. I was just bored a lot of the time, and the list of clichés with a lack of adding much of anything new to the table made me not excited to keep going with the book.

As for right now, I recommend this book for someone who’s maybe not as familiar with fantasy genre books and wants something to ease into it before diving into much heavier, and more dense material. It’s a good beginner level fantasy read for someone just starting out in this genre.

However, I want to take all this negativity towards the book with a grain of salt and keep going because I’ve seen several instances where the first book in a series is the weakest, and the story gets much more engaging as it develops with each and every book. Plus, I already preordered the next book because I’m a sucker for pretty book covers, so I’ll at least give book 2 a try before I decide to bench this book series.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: Tricky Magic (Tricky Magic #1): by L.L. Campbell

Publish Date: December 18th, 2021
Number of Pages: 445 Pages
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Erotica

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Fears evolve and grow, welcoming another. One whose power will balance yours in destruction. You feed his fire as he feeds your chaos. You will turn worlds upside down,

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Ellea is a Witch, a mix of both the respected Seers and the feared Tricksters. On top of that, she has also spent her whole life in the shadows of her parents’ infamous attempted destruction.

After Ellea’s frequent and feared vision of the future shifts into something darker and more terrifying than before, she runs to a town that used to be a haven for her as a child.

But things are no longer as they seem. The world of supernaturals is so much more than she thought and after a run in with a mysterious hunter, she finds her and her powers spiraling.

Will the town of Glenover be the place she finally leaves her fears behind and embraces a new future? Or will her powers become destructive and result in her own destruction by the frustratingly handsome hunter?

~~~

This book had been calling to me for some time…

There was like this gut feeling or calling or siren’s song that had me drawn to it that I can’t entirely explain…all I can explain about it is that it was telling me to read this book for some reason.

Before doing so, I’d heard several mixed reviews about the book from my reading inner circle and a few others, but anything negative didn’t fully deter me, and I’m glad it didn’t because for the most part I did end up enjoying this book!

For some reason I was expecting this to be a medieval fantasy setting with the talk of witches, demons, and other paranormal creatures, but I was a little surprised to see that this actually takes place in modern, contemporary times. Not that this detracted me from the story at all, it gave me Vampire Diaries and/or True Blood kind vibes, which I love, so it works!

The story is definitely more character driven, so the plot will be slow at times, but theres plenty of spice throughout, and the slow burn between Ros and Ellea really drives the story forward, plus interactions with the rest of the cast make it actually kinda fun too! There’s Billy, who’s Ellea’s familiar in the form of a black dog and has a few zinger one liners and is supposed to be this ancient being with a lot of mystery surrounding her history, so color me intrigued…theres Belias, who’s Ros’s cousin who’s definitely got something wicked planned, watch out for him… there’s Sybil, an ancient witch who’s only in one scene, but leaves quite an impression…

Actually there’s quite a bit of characters who are only in a handful of scenes, and I have no idea if they’ll be important players later on in the series or if they’re just done now? It’s really hard to say right now, and hopefully reading book two answers that for me and–possibly–other readers.

And I’d actually add onto that saying that there’s actually A LOT that gets left up in the air that you may want answers to but you won’t get, all that is determined by whatever direction the author wants to take this story in, but consider me curious to see what happens next!

~~~

My life has been spent looking for ways to change, ways to control this monster that I am destined to become. And I am getting tired of it.

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice! Okay, there is a decent amount of spice in this book including a four way like right away kinda to my surprise, and another good thing about all of it is that it doesn’t feel like it overtakes the plot at all! Like, sometimes you can tell when an author makes a story total PWP (Porn Without Plot), but the author kept a decent balance here with it!……and the shadow play!!! Azriel fans will appreciate that part a whole lot!
  2. Rosier! Hello new book boyfriend addition! Ros is absolutely a new favorite of mine who I can’t wait to see more of his perspective in the next book! He’s grumpy, swoon-worthy, protective, cheeky, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in more ways than one!
  3. There’s LGBT Side Characters! Sam and Devon are a gay couple in this story, and their relationship seems so easy going and calming, aka the complete opposite of Ellea and Ros, so I’m here for them! I have no idea how important they’ll be in the series, but if anything happens to them…..oooooooooo we don’t want to go there!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Not Clear Magic System…With witchcraft and demon summoning and other supernatural creatures in the vicinity, obviously theres going to be a magic system involved right?…well technically there is, but it’s not really developed as much as some of you readers may like, and I felt like it wasn’t explored enough in the story. HOWEVER, for a large part of this book it also wasn’t completely necessary to use it, so maybe it’ll be more fleshed out in book 2!
  2. Pacing Can Be Slow…This story is character driven with mostly the development/growth of Ellea, so yes, the pacing is a bit slower in some beats. It’s not as action packed as some of us would perhaps like, so I can see some of you getting bored with it in this regards.
  3. The Unexpected Ending…This kind of continues off the pacing issue, but the shocking ending felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it, but only because I also felt like there wasn’t really the proper build up to it? It felt like it was slapped right into the end of the story and yeah, it did raise the stakes and make things harder for Ros and Ellea, but I felt it wasn’t the best approach…

Conclusion:

Overall, I did for the most part enjoy this book! It’s not heavy or dense, and it’s perfect for anyone looking for some spicy paranormal romance with a witchy aesthetic and a hot hot hot slow burn! The pacing was fairly slow, but the characters keep you interested, and the author certainly puts a few questions in your head about them and the plot of the story and where everything is going, so now it’s up to L.L Campbell to keep the ball rolling.

The series has some potential to get better with each and every book, for me it really depends on where the author plans to go with this series as you don’t get a lot of answers for those questions that pop up, so I’m definitely putting some pressure on the sequel coming out in Fall 2022 to pass the baton and keep things moving!

We Shall See!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: The War of Two Queens (From Blood and Ash #4): by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publish Date: March 15th, 2022
Number of Pages: 628 Pages
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from the previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – From Blood and Ash – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – The Crown of Gilded Bones – Click HERE

To see my review of the prequel book #1 – A Shadow in the Ember – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

We’re two hearts … one soul. We’ll find each other again. We always will.

– Jennifer L. Armentrout, “The War of Two Queens”

What It’s About:

the official synopsis:

From the desperation of golden crowns…

Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.

And born of mortal flesh…

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.

A great primal power rises…

Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.

As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.

~~~

Ugh, I’m sorry folks, I don’t know whats wrong with me lately, it’s like I can’t find the motivation to do anything right now…like all my energy is purely for my job and anything else just keeps getting pushed back because I have no energy or motivation…maybe my depression is getting bad again? I don’t feel that way, but I’m just tired a lot lately and overwhelmed.

Anyways, this review…where do you really start? Ever since the day this book released there was some major controversy about it that left quite an impression on the bookish community who were aware of what was happening. I remember I was so incredibly excited to start this next installment and read to see what possibly was going to happen next with that epic ending TCOGB gave us…what I didn’t expect was the fandom to be in it’s own sort of civil war! Suddenly on March 15th, there was all sorts of negative reviews that were trashing the books, trashing the characters, and possible the most surprising of all, trashing Jennifer L. Armentrout herself as the author. I was shocked, upset, and incredibly disappointed to see all the negativity about this book. It felt like a bitter betrayal and it even made me question if I wanted to read this book myself…

But then I look at some of the negativity and thought to myself if some of these people actually read the book, or if they were simply reacting to what someone else may have said and blown it out of context and proportion. This is becoming a regular thing where the crowds overly react to something on the internet and express anger without even knowing all the facts and the full story. Unfortunately, this is pretty typical internet culture and what some may even consider “cancel culture” that people love to find something to be angry about in order to win themselves some “woke” points to ease some sort of internal guilt they may feel and can or can’t talk about quite yet…

Anyways, I’ve finished the book and can say that all the drama and negativity was so not deserved, not that any author should be attacked the way JLA was, and honestly the people who thought that was okay can honestly go f**k off and shut up for the rest of their lives for all I care…this is my blog and I can say that if I want to. There’s nothing wrong with not liking the book or having a different opinion because reading is so subjective and opinion based on what people’s preferences are, but personally going after someone and showing bullying behavior is ugly and toxic and there’s no way to justify it… Don’t join in the anger and hatred and negativity in a situation like this without actually reading the material and seeing for yourself what you honestly think and come to your own consensus on the subject, not just ride the coattails of whatever people on the internet are angry about today…instead of spending so much time and energy bashing something or someone for liking it, simply go out and find something to love and praise instead. it’s not that hard…

Now as for my thoughts for this book, I can admit that it wasn’t the strongest book in the series. As far as content goes, this book feels more like set up for what else is possibly to come down the road. The story has gone in a direction that I hadn’t expected from the beginning, and while I’m not 100% behind it, I’m still definitely a fan of the book series and it’s characters and will continue to read.

The writing stays consistently great, the characters in my opinion remain true to themselves, even as they’ve grown throughout the books, and this book really ties into what happened in A Shadow in the Ember and how it goes into what the major conflict in these books are…all I can say is we thought the Ascended were the biggest issue in this world, but as ASITE and this book reveal, that’s just the surface of how deep this truly goes. And yes, this is also me confirming it’s incredibly important to read ASITE before reading this book too!

Like I said earlier, this may be what I now consider the weakest book of the series, but that in no way means I think it was a bad book. There were many positives about it that I really enjoyed that I get into more later on, but I can’t help but feel like this was also just pure setup to what will most likely be an absolutely explosive conclusion! It’s a bit like Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 or Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1 in movie form if that helps you visual learners like myself.

~~~

Whether she ruled over all the lands and seas or was the Queen of nothing but a pile of ashes and bones she would – will – always be my Queen. Love is too weak an emotion to describe how she consumes me and what I feel for her. She is my everything.

– Jennifer L. Armentrout, “The War of Two Queens”

What I Liked:

  1. Reaver! Awesome new character alert!!! Just like I suspected, I absolutely loved his addition to the story. I was surprised he was more aloof and stoic and quiet instead of loud, proud, and cocky like I pictured he was going to be, but either way he had some hilarious zingers in the dialogue department! I’d say he was more like Azriel when I thought he was going to be more like Cassian for any ACOTAR fans out there…
  2. The Blood Queen Is Actually A Good Villain! JLA said this in an instagram live with Jillian Stein, but the best villains are the ones who believe they are the hero of their story. The Blood Queen has done nothing but shock and absolutely deliver whenever she makes an appearance, and even though she is multi-levels of messed up in the head, its certain that she behaves a certain way because of her origin story, to which I can respect!
  3. Kieran Gets More Attention! I felt like Kieran was definitely continuing to become a bigger character with each and every book, and with how the previous book ended with Casteel being taken by the Blood Queen, Kieran had to step up and he was very successful in doing so.
  4. That Thing Happens! That thing that the fandom was so torn about? …lets just say things happen and its so well done in my opinion, so pure, and there’s consent up the wazoo about all this!
  5. Casteel Continues To Be An Excellent Book Boyfriend! I love how much he loves Poppy and how devoted he is. Now, I can say his character felt a little cheapened in this book because it felt like he was just the love interest and everything involving him revolved around his feelings for her, and I feel like at this point there wasn’t as much depth to him like there was in the first two books!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. This Book Felt Like Pure Setup For The Next Installment…I can agree this is the weakest book in the series, but ONLY because it feels like setup for what will be the final battle with the final boss villain in the next book possibly!
  2. Secondary Characters Pushed To Back…While Kieran and even Reaver step forward and become more prominent characters, others like Vonetta, Tawny, Emil, Naill and Delano either weren’t in the book as much as they have in the past, or they were just stagnant and didn’t really do as much. there wasn’t a whole lot with any of them or anything really going on in this sense…

Conclusion:

Overall, The War of Two Queens is another great installment for the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and even though I feel like this is the weakest book of the series, I still feel like it was still an enjoyable book to read! Things do somehow continue to get bigger and bigger, and this is no longer simply a “Vampires and Werewolves” type of series either.

Again, I urge anyone reading this to read the book and come to your own conclusions and not just follow in what a lot of other people are saying online. Obviously I’ve drawn my line in the sand and say where I stand in terms of this argument, so take that as you will…All I can say is I’ll definitely be keeping up with this series and am looking forward to the next Flesh and Fire book with Sera and Nyktos, and then the next FBAA book too!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance

My Review: House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: February 15th, 2022
Number of Pages: 805 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

***Warning! This book review contains spoilers for this book and the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned***

To see my review of book #1 – House of Earth and Blood – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.75 Stars

His smile broadened as he walked out. ‘I never would have met Bryce. And every horror, every nightmare … all of it had been worth it for her.’

– Sarah J. Maas, “House of Sky and Breath”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

~~~

Okay, so it’s only been about a month and I think I NOW can say I’ve gathered my thoughts on this book that has actually stolen my breath away! This was easily one of my most anticipated book releases of 2022 since its been two years since we’ve ventured with these characters and experienced all that happens in House of Earth and Blood.

It’s quite the sequel to say the least! Old characters get new depths added to them, there’s a plethora of new characters who add so much to the story, there’s tons and tons of twists and turns, the plot somehow gets deeper and deeper, and lets just say that ending will freakin’ BLOW YOUR MIND like it did more me at 2 in the morning!

In this book, the story starts up again a few months after the catastrophic events where the glass gates are opened with portals to Hel and the demons are let loose in the city and countless people are injured or killed. Bryce and Hunt are just trying to ignore the thinly veiled threat of the overruling Asteri and their watchful eyes, and are just trying to live their normal lives and continue to be together under more mundane and normal circumstances. Things aren’t that easy, as they learn about rebel movements in place and secret weapons being found that could turn the tides of this possible war on the horizon (lets be real, we know it’s happening, has it never actually happened in a fantasy book you’ve read?)

This is also quite a substantial book and is easily one of her thickest titles to date, but it doesn’t feel that way as you read it; she has this way of connecting you to all her characters in such a way that you could literally read them talking over sports while drinking in a bar and you won’t get bored.

Speaking of the characters, that is such a major highlight of this book! Characters you met in the original book are back and have so much added onto them as the story develops that they still feel so fresh and real, even though you may not like as many of them as you get to know them! I don’t remember the last time I was so jealous of a character being surrounded by so many amazing male characters, but here Bryce is with company like Hunt, Ruhn, Ithan, Tharion, Flynn, Declan, and even a new character who is a lot more than meets the eye!

Thats the other thing about the new characters: there’s a lot of them, and ALL of them serve a huge purpose to the story and the many twists and reveals that come your way! I love the cast so much, and no surprise, SJM has truly created a wonderful array of them for us to enjoy.

One thing I can definitely critique is that we were promised a lot more spice in this book….first of all, I wasn’t a fan of the idea of Hunt and Bryce keeping things slow and trying things out on a platonic level–a horrible decision, really–and I thought we were promised like 500% more sex in this book! Well technically there’s more sex in this book than the previous one, but the amount we were promised sounds like there was supposed to be even more than what we got in A Court of Silver Flames…I’m not saying we don’t get any, we do and it’s great and it makes me happy when they go at it, but I was hoping for more in this regard.

And of course that ending……..oh my goodness, I can’t say any more because I risk spoiling it, but just holy shit that has to be the best way to end this book or any of her books! I need another SJM new release NOW!

I say anyone who sticks with the series all ADORE this book, it’s so much better in every way, I wish I could sound like I wasn’t just gushing about this book, but when my only critique was that there wasn’t enough spice in it, it’s hard not to! This book was phenomenal!!

Males will always try to control the females who scare them. Marriage and breeding are their go-to methods.

– Sarah J. Maas, “House of Sky and Breath”

What I Liked:

  1. THAT ENDING! I think I speak for the whole dang fandom when I say that the way this book ended was probably the most epic, most exciting, most mindfuckable of an ending that she could’ve come up with! I know It’s said a lot as we all finish books, but holy shitballs do I need the next book NOW!!!
  2. Things Get Spicier! Bryce and Hunt finally get their heads out of their own butts and into each others genitals! Yes, I went there…….but so did they *wink*wink*
  3. The Twists! Sarah J. Maas continues to surprise us readers to no end as more and more gets revealed! Danika and her extra-curricular activities that Bryce had no idea about, new characters who thicken the plot, Family tree’s revealed, The Underking, the Asteri, and even Hel itself and the Demon Princes have information all exposed about them that really raise the stakes! Plus, ALL the new characters have so much to add to the story in different ways, like there wasn’t one random addition, and they all had more going on beneath the surface to make this book even more addictive…
  4. The Multiple Romances! In Book 1, the romance was definitely all about Hunt and Bryce, and while it still shines a light on their relationship plenty, there were some other relationships also formed! Some were more alliances, but for some male characters, there’s definitely some sparks (or flames) flying!
  5. Buddy Reading It With My #Bookstagram Friends! I joined Bookstagram back in October, and I’ve made some truly wonderful friends while being active on there! We finally did our first successful buddy read together with this book, and it was so much fun to come up with theories and guess who was behind the many mysteries that raised questions, and of course, gush about the sex scenes! Brit, Kay, Laura, and Emily – Nothing But Love for my Wolfpack ❤

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Where’s The Smut?…So yeah there are sex scenes that finally happen in this book, but weren’t we promised like 500% more sex in this book? Umm, I think the decimal should’ve been moved over a few spots…I mean, there was so much sex in A Court of Silver Flames that some got cut out! What we got between Hunt and Bryce (and even Ruhn a few times) was hot and spicy like how I like my food, but with the promise of more, I felt like the quantity didn’t meet expectations.
  2. Tharion Was Pretty Shady…I love mermaids, and especially hot mermen, but Tharion was making some questionable decisions in this book, and exhibited some less than stellar behavior, like I was finding myself not happy with him and some of the things he did. Just shady behavior…..
  3. All The Tightening Balls…Laura in my Bookstagram Wolfpack pointed this out so then I couldn’t not notice this, but when SJM was writing about a male getting turned on, several times there was a mention of his balls tightening in arousal….LET ME tell you all who read this that this does not happen, if anything we get a hard-on, but our balls don’t tighten except for if we’re freakin’ freezing and the temperature is dangerously low…so not hot, no pun intended. Women authors who say this in romance/erotica need to cease and desist!
  4. The Book Got Spoiled Before It’s Release Date…Now this doesn’t affect my overall rating of how much I enjoyed this book, but all I can say is there’s a special place in Hel for those who leaked the book and gave major spoilers before the book even released is unforgivable! Some A-holes even tried to sell books from BAM (Books A Million) a week early for well over $100 dollars…I hate people sometimes.

Conclusion:

Overall, House of Sky and Breath exceeded expectations of how this story continues, there’s hardly a bad thing I can say about it. The world-building continues, there’s no info dumping like in book #1, the romance was much more present and was with more characters besides just Hunt and Bryce: Ruhn even has a little something something happening on his end too!

The ending of this book is quite literally mind-blowing, and like I said before, I am in desperate need of a new SJM book like NOW, I hope we don’t have to wait years for any answers to what I saw as the final scene in this wonderful book.

It’s by far the best book of 2022 for me so far, I’m so looking forward to how this story keeps developing! its ahhhh-mazing

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell