The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow *REVIEW*


Rating:5⭐️
Synopsis:In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Review:Thank you to Orbit for sending me a finished copy of this book for review!
The Once and Future Witches has been on my list of highly anticipated releases for 2020. The cover was gorgeous, I had heard such incredible things about Harrow’s writing style, and I am always here for something witchy.
I had originally rated this a four stars, but after sitting on it for a few days I cannot seem to get the story out of my head, which almost always makes me bump it up to a five star. This will definitely be in my list of top reads of the year.
I picked this up just as fall was starting to roll around here in Ohio, and it was a perfect time. One of the strongest aspects of this book, apart from Harrow’s phenomenal writing style, was the atmosphere. You are immediately thrust into this world filled with magic and intrigue. The characters were fantastic. This story had one of my favorite villains and the sister relationship felt very realistic, with each character being well fleshed out.
I would encourage everyone to pick this one up this spooky season. I mean, it is full of feminist witches fighting to bring magic back into their world. What’s not to love?

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart *REVIEW*

The Bone Shard Daughter

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Review:I was super excited when I received this book for review from Orbit. This has been on my list of most anticipated releases of the year. It did not disappoint.
One of the shining parts of this novel from the beginning is the magic system. The idea of inscribing on bone shards is inventive and leaves a whole world of possibilities with where the story can go. The magic system felt a lot like the magic system used in Foundryside, which I really enjoyed, but I like this overall story a lot better.
One thing I was not expecting but always LOVE in stories is animal sidekicks, and there were a few that I absolutely loved! Our main “animal” companion is Mephi and he stole my heart from the beginning! If you are one of those people who love talking animal companions, then you MUST pick this one up.
I really liked the atmosphere created within this world with the use of the “wet years”. This entire story feels gloomy and dreary and that is a perfect reflection of the weather in this world. I actually curled up during a few thunderstorms and it was the perfect ambiance for the story.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a few times throughout that the pacing slowed down a bit for my personal taste. I also felt like I wanted more from the world. I just wanted to dig a little deeper. I think that this was a solid first book and I am excited to continue on with this series.

Thank you Orbit and Netgalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by VE Schwab *REVIEW*


Rating:5⭐️

Synopsis:A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Review:Thank you so much to Tor Books for the advanced reader copy of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by VE Schwab. This book far exceeded any expectations that I had going into it. I have had a rocky relationship with Schwab in the past, so I was skeptical, however the more reviews I saw for this book the more I was convinced that I was going to love it. Loving it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
The number one thing that I loved about this book is just the tone and atmosphere of the book. It was honestly the best fall read. It felt dark and sad, while somehow a little hopeful. This book really made me think about life from a lot of different angles and what it would be like to truly be forgotten, as well as what you’d be willing to trade for “happiness”. I won’t go into too much because I truly believe that this is a book that is best if you go in as blind as possible and let the story take you away.
I highly recommend this book and it will absolutely be one of my favorites of the year.

15 Books I Want To Read This Fall

It is no secret that I love the autumn season. I love chilly nights curled up with an atmospheric read. Watching scary movies and football with your family, while soup is in the crockpot. Deciding every morning which cozy sweater to throw on. When I make the switch from iced to hot coffee and watch all of the neighborhood kids go trick or treating. This is the season I eagerly await all year and I have chosen some pretty awesome reads I hope to get to in the months of September through November.

I will start out with some of the backlist titles that I am hoping to get to. I am trying to focus on some atmospheric reads that are sitting on my TBR.


First up I have A Peculiar Peril by Jeff Vandermeer. I purchased this book the day that it came out because not only is the cover stunning, but it felt like a weird, atmospheric read that would be perfect for the fall time. It is a chunky book and I absolutely cannot wait to curl up on a chilly Sunday afternoon and get lost between the pages.


Next up is Den of Vipers by K.A. Knight. Not only is this also a STUNNING cover, but I have seen reviews saying that this romance is DARK. There’s nothing better than a dark romance. I am also trying to make the most out of my Kindle Unlimited subscription, so I was ecstatic to see that this was available for KU.


Speaking of Kindle Unlimited, I was also excited to find 68 Kill by Bryan Smith was available to add to my KU library. This is a crime thriller, which if I am being honest I hardly ever read. My reasoning for wanting to read this <300page book is a little ridiculous. I recently watched the movie adaptation on Netflix that stars Matthew Gray Gubler. It was absolutely ridiculous and horrible, but there was also something about it that I loved. I want to see what this book has to offer and the source of this hysterically bad film.


I am hoping that I get around to picking up Daughter From the Dark by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. I recently read their novel Vita Nostra and absolutely fell in love, so I have very high hopes going into this one. I have not read the synopsis, because I feel like their books are best to go into blind. If it delivers what I came to love in Vita Nostra, then I am in for a weird, dark, atmospheric read.


The last backlist book that I am hoping to get to this Fall is The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden. I recently saw this book on Booktube and knew that it was a must-read for me. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited. This is a YA novel that takes place in the French Quarter in New Orleans. From the moment I saw the cover I knew that it was a book I needed to get to this Fall season.

There are SO MANY new releases coming out this Fall that I CANNOT wait to get my hands on. Some of these are atmospheric and kinda spooky, but a lot of them are just books that I am super excited about and know I will have to read the moment they are released!


First up is A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I read the first book back in March when it released and absolutely fell in love. With the ending of book one, I knew that I had to pick up book two the moment that it releases! This is very high on my list of most anticipated books of the year.


When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole is a book I have seen EVERYWHERE. In my late teenage years, I read a ton of thrillers, but as my anxiety got worse I slowly stopped reading them. It is definitely a genre that I want to get back into because it does provide such a great escape. I feel like this is a thriller with a romance involved that will help ease me back into the genre. The hype that I am seeing surrounding it is also making me want to pick it up even more!


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is definitely in my Top 5 most anticipated 2020 releases! I am a sucker for a dark magical school and I feel like this will be the perfect book to lead me into October. I have not read the full synopsis because I want to go into this novel with zero information and just enjoy the ride. I have seen early reviews from people I really trust and they are just making me even more excited to get my hands on this one.


The next one should come as no surprise to anyone and that is The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab. I was so lucky to have received a copy of this novel early and I am dying to get started. I am definitely waiting for the weather to get colder so that I can hibernate and really take in all that this story has to offer.


Of course, this list would not have been complete without mentioning The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. This book SCREAMS October and I think it is going to be the perfect witchy read. I have heard such incredible things about this author and cannot wait to see what this one is all about. The early reviews have me so so so excited to dig in!


I feel so blessed that I received a copy of A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe early from Wednesday Books. Thank you so much to them for sending a physical copy my way. I am not going to lie, this was a book that I was interested in strictly from the cover. It is absolutely stunning and it gives me all of the witchy Fall vibes I want.


This next book is one of the most exciting Netgalley approvals I have ever received. The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski is the first book in a new trilogy. All I know about this is that it mixes history and fantasy. That is all I needed to know to be excited about this one!


The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter is the follow up to The Rage of Dragons which I read this year at the height of quarantine and absolutely fell in love. It quickly was added to my Top 10 Favorite books of all time and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel. I have done a lot of praying to the ARC gods that I somehow can get early access because I do not know that I will last until November knowing this book is somewhere out in the world and I do not have it in my hands yet. This book also releases two days after my 25th birthday, so it feels like the best birthday gift ever!


Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is a book I never thought would exist, but I am so excited that it does. This announcement took me by surprise, but I couldn’t be more excited. Ready Player One is easily one of my favorite books of all time, so I am equal parts nervous and excited!


The Awakening by Nora Roberts is a complete shot in the dark for me, but I am still very excited for it. I haven’t read a Nora Roberts book since high school when I would pick up her mass markets at the supermarket and read them under my covers at night. There was something about the synopsis for her newest urban fantasy that caught my attention and I am excited to give it a shot. I am going in with relatively low expectations and hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

So there you have it. My list of 15 books that I am hoping to read this Fall season. Let me know if you have read any of these, or if they are on your list of anticipated reads as well. Also, let me know if you have any other atmospheric reads that you think would be perfect to read in the chilly months, or if you have any Kindle Unlimited recommendations!

Happy spooky season everyone!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust *REVIEW*


Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Rating: 3⭐️

Synopsis:A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a book that has been on my radar for a few weeks. I kept seeing it floating around Instagram and when I saw that it was a sapphic YA fantasy I knew that I had to pick it up. I was ecstatic when it was available from my library for curbside pickup.
I flew through this book in just 2 days. It was a fun YA read. I do not think that it did anything particularly new or great, but it was an enjoyable and entertaining read that was the perfect read to get me out of my slump.
One of the things that I was most excited about going into this was the prospect of a lesbian romance, and we got that, kinda. The romance was definitely NOT central to the story and was not what I was expecting. It was a very small part of the story and although that was fine, it is not what I was hoping to get out of this read.
My biggest complaint with this story is very surface level. I wanted the writing to be a bit lusher. It was VERY simplistic to the point of being a little boring. I never felt like I knew the characters beyond the surface and was not super attached to any of them. That is a very personal thing though and will be different with every reader.
Overall I would recommend this if you are a fan of YA fantasy stories, or looking for something just entertaining that’s a quick read.

Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry *REVIEW*


Orpheus Girl

Rating: 4/5⭐️

Synopsis:Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.

Review:It is officially Reading Rush time, which means I typically am reading books that I never would have picked up 100% on my own. I knew that my first task for the week should be tackling the “read a book from a genre that you don’t usually read” prompt. I do not read a ton outside of fantasy, with the occasional romance book. I took to my Libby app to see what was available. I won’t lie, this cover was absolutely the reason that I picked up this YA contemporary. I did not even realize how short it was when I hit “borrow”.
With this book being so short, there is not much that I can say about it. This is a YA contemporary story about the struggles of growing up in a conservative town and religion, while also being queer. This was a very difficult and dark story, but I think it is an important one. I do not want to get into the plot because I think with short books it is easy to give it all away.
My biggest “complaint” is that it WAS so short. The author did a great job of developing these characters and their relationships with each other, but I wanted more. I think that this is a purely personal preference, and I think I am learning that short fiction just isn’t for me.
Overall I think this is a story that everyone should read, not just those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, but everyone. It was very eye-opening about the harsh reality that a lot of queer kids face growing up. This was HARD to read at times, but I know that this is something that needs to be talked about more.

Ashes of the Sun (Burningblade & Silvereye #1) by Django Wexler *REVIEW*


Ashes of the Sun

Rating: 4.5⭐️

Synopsis:Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

Review:When Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler showed up on my doorstep I was SO EXCITED. A huge shoutout to Orbit for sending a beautiful finished copy my way!
This book really hooked me from the very beginning. We are thrown into a unique almost sci-fi/apocalyptic fantasy world. This book felt like a very new and fresh entry into the fantasy genre the whole way through. One thing that Wexler did so well, in my opinion, was making you feel that you knew what was going to happen next and then completely surprise you.
I really loved every single one of the characters crafted within this story. I felt like I really understood all of their motivations and why they were acting the way that they were. By the end, it was very apparent how emotionally invested in the characters that I had become.
This world that Django created was SO FUN. It was a great backdrop to this story and was developed very well. The lore is rich and there is so much that can be expanded upon in the sequels.
The LGBTQ+ representation in this book was a welcome surprise. Within this world, we see many people with different sexualities just living their lives. It is just people living their lives and being attracted to whoever they are attracted to and I think that we need more of that within all types of stories. I love seeing queer characters just living their lives and loving who they love.
Overall I really enjoyed this read and I would recommend it to anyone who reads Adult SFF. I also believe that this would be a great book for those that read a lot of Young Adult Fantasy and would like to get more into the adult genre. It is very approachable!

Thank you to the author and publisher for providing a copy for review!

A Touch of Stone and Snow by: Milla Vane *REVIEW*


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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:Milla Vane returns to a world of kings, magic, and passion in her exhilarating A Gathering of Dragons series, as a great alliance forms to stand against an evil warlord intent on their destruction.
Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.
When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.
Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…

Review: was so excited when Berkley sent me an eARC of this book on Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. I loved the first installment of this series and could hardly contain my excitement for the second. I was very worried going into this because I loved the first book and set of characters so much, and I knew going into this one it followed a whole new cast of characters. Almost immediately I realized that I was worried for no real reason. I loved this one as much, if not more than the first. There is something about this series that is just everything I want. The world is vast and intriguing. The romance is some of the best I have seen. The writing is simple enough to be digestible, but full of beautiful quotes and moments.
Aerax is a FANTASTIC love interest. He may be one of the more sweet and gentle men I have come across in the fantasy romance genre and I found myself just wanting more and more of him. Lizzan is our strong female soldier who has had such a rough past, but is so relatable. I found her to be the best mixture of tender and caring mixed with badass and strong. The two together have this INCREDIBLE chemistry and creates one of the best romances I have ever read.
I loved our cast of side characters as well. I am a sucker for a band of people going on a mission and this is exactly what this group was. They all had their own opinions and feelings about each other and the situation they were in, however they stayed strong together and had each others back no matter their history.
Overall this was an easy 5 star rating for me and this is creeping up on my list of all time favorite series. If you are a sucker for a truly epic adult fantasy romance series, this is it. I have yet to read anything that comes close to this within the genre.

The House In the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune *REVIEW*


The House in the Cerulean Sea

Rating:5/5 Stars

Synopsis:A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Review:Oh boy, here we go. I am ready to fumble my way through this review, trying to find the words to describe my feeling for this book. This book moved into my list of all time favorites.
From the jump the tone of The House in the Cerulean Sea wrapped me in a hug. It was full of childish wonder and whimsy and created a story that I was completely immersed and enamored with.
When you meet our main character Linus he is a middle aged lonely man who is filled with self-esteem problems. He works all day and goes home to his cat to listen to records. I loved Linus as a character. His character growth is one of my favorites that I have ever read. He has a rough exterior, but is truly the most precious cinnamon roll.
THE CHILDREN. We follow 6 magical “outcast” children. They were all developed incredibly. They each had their own voice and personalities and I fell completely in love with every single one of them.
The ROMANCE! I did not go into this book with high expectations for a romance, but this certainly delivered. It was a heartfelt slow burn that made my heart absolutely explode.
Overall this novel is PERFECT. There is not a single thing that I would change about it. It came to me at a really tough spot and it felt like the hug I needed. It is taking all of my self control to not go back and reread it already.

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler & Frank Miller (Illustrations) *REVIEW*


Cursed

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Synopsis:The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.
But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?
Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…
That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.
Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.
But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.

Review:I picked up a copy of Cursed when I saw the trailer for the new Netflix adaptation. The trailer looked like something I would be REALLY interested in, so I knew that I had to give the book a shot.
I went into this with little to no knowledge of the original story of King Arthur, so that already put me at a disadvantage. However after reading other reviews of this story it wouldn’t have changed much if I did.
UNDERWHELMING. That is the only word that I can think of to describe this novel. I know that it was written to be adapted and you can definitely tell.
The world building was VERY surface level and left me BEYOND frustrated and wanting more. The characters also fell very one-dimensional and I had trouble really caring about any of them. The pacing was all over the place. It DRAGGED for most of the book, but the ending happened WAY too quickly. The romance was very insta-love and I didn’t really understand why were supposed to be together.
Overall this book was NOT a hit for me. It may honestly be one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I do think that this will make a really great tv series if executed well. I just wanted so much more from this.