Friday, May 26, 2023

Book Review: "The Serpent and the Wings of Night" by Carissa Broadbent

Title: The Serpent and the Wings of Night
Author: Carissa Broadbent
Series: "Crowns of Nyaxia" #1
Genre: New Adult Fantasy Romance
Page Length: 491 pages
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Rating: 5 // 5 stars 

If you're anything like me, you'd have seen this book everywhere on booktok and bookstagram in the last few months. It has blown up and everyone and their mother seems to be raving about it. Even reviewers I follow who are notoriously tough on fantasy romance seemed to love it. So I bought it a couple months ago and this past weekend I decided to give it a go. 

I pretty much did not stop the moment I started this book. I read it in one sitting, in one night, and loved it. Carissa Broadbent just has a writing style that lets me fall into her books and not even notice how long I've been reading until hours later.

I'd say this book is The Hunger Games meets Throne of Glass meets vampires. Everyone keeps recommending it as similar to ACOTAR but I don't really get that vibe (only similarity is the love interests have wings?). Of course, I've not yet read the second book so maybe that's where people are getting that from.

But let's get into the actual book. In terms of our main character, I loved her. Oraya's story was addicting to read. I liked her as a character and I was rooting for her the entire way. She's a human in a world not designed for humans but that doesn't make her weak in any way. Entering the Kejari is a way to change things for her.

The Kejari, a legendary competition held by the goddess of death every hundred years, grants the winner one wish. This competition is the key to Oraya's future and finding her long-lost family. And it was addicting. I love competition and tournament stories and this one was so fun. I will admit, I expected it to be different than it was but the way it went was still quite good. 

Our love interest definitely had me swooning. Raihn is another vampire in this competition and he teams up with Oraya (though she's reluctant) to get through the competition to the end. He was so fun to read about. His wit, their back and forth banter, the slow unraveling of his secrets...I loved it. 

The world is fascinating. Vampires, gods, and certainly provides for an interesting mix. I am very eager to learn more about this world as there's supposed to be six books total in this series, with a couple spin-offs/companions already out. I love a big world we get to play in and I'm very interested to see this one unravel a bit more. 

The ending shook me, but was also pretty on par with a book like this. I think I'm beginning to see a pattern with my favorite fantasy romance books and how they end...because three of my all-time favorites have now ended this way in the past year and a half. It's a popular ending for sure and I thought this one was particularly well-done. 

There's really not much more I can say without spoiling things that I don't want to spoil. Overall, I loved this book. It was so fun to read and I loved every second. I'm cautiously optimistic about the sequel, though, as I've heard a lot of mixed things and I'm expecting it to be a lot different than this first one. Either way, I'm excited to know what happens next and to see more of these characters. I'm also intrigued by all of the companions/spin offs. In the span of the month this world went from one book to four so there's a lot of material I can catch up on for sure.

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Series Review: "The Bonds That Tie" by J. Bree

Series: The Bonds That Tie
Author: J. Bree
Reading Order & Individual Ratings:
  1. Broken Bonds - 4.5 // 5 stars
  2. Savage Bonds - 4 // 5 stars
  3. Blood Bonds - 4.5 // 5 stars
  4. Forced Bonds - 4 // 5 stars
  5. Tragic Bonds - 4 // 5 stars
  6. Unbroken Bonds - 3.5 // 5 stars
Overall Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Between this series and all of the books set in the Mounts Bay world, I'm pretty sure J. Bree is a new favorite author of mine. While this series did not surpass the Hannaford Prep, Queens Crow, or Butcher of the Bay series for me, I still really enjoyed it. It was the series that introduced me to J. Bree.

So I first started this series back in December, just a little after the publication of the last book. I binged the first five books in just a couple weeks. I was obsessed with Oli and her boys. I finally got to the last book in April and finished the series. 

My overall thoughts for this series are basically that it was good but that it didn't need to be that long. Each book was quite long and then the series overall was six books. I think for the overall plot and romance arc, it could have been done in four or five books. My favorites were the earlier books but I am also quite satisfied by the ending. 

Let's start with the characters. One thing I like about J. Bree's "why choose" romances is that the characters are very distinct from one another. Sometimes with "why choose" books, it can be easy to fall into the trap of all the love interests being very similar and hard to tell apart. But this series, and the Hannaford Prep series, shows that is not the case with J. Bree. I could tell who was who just by how they were speaking and I loved that. The slow burn was deliciously slow. I love J. Bree's books for that. But it was worth the payoff in the end. I liked that the different relationships between Oli and her boys also developed at different speeds. It felt more realistic. The steamy scenes were also well worth the wait. 

In terms of plot, I thought it was very intriguing. The world inside our own that J. Bree built in this series was fascinating to learn about and read about. I think the plot was fun and addicting, though again I think that the books could have been condensed and that the plot was stretched too long. 

Overall, these books were addicting and I had a lot of fun reading them. I will definitely be returning to them in the future and I hope to one day get the physical copies for my bookshelf when I have the space and money to do so. I'm also just grateful to this series for introducing me to J. Bree. Without it, I wouldn't have found any of her other books that have become some of my favorites of all time. 

Thanks for reading!

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Monday, May 22, 2023

Book Review: "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros

Title: Fourth Wing
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Series: "The Empryean" #1
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Let me just start off this review by saying that the hype for this book is totally justified and I am 100% the target market for it. Like if you could take a bunch of the things I love plus my desire for dragons and mash it all together, this is it. It honestly feels a bit like this book was tailor-made for me. 

I'll get into the nitty gritty of the review in a minute but I also just want to mention my experience since finishing this book. I read it in one sitting, though I did take my time and savored it so it was a longer sitting than usual. I just didn't want to put it down or do anything else. And then I went to bed not long after and literally dreamt about this book. I dreamt about the story and it was like I was there. I've not had that ever happen (or if it has, I can't remember). Just another reason for me to be obsessed with this book.

Alright so let's actually dive into why I loved this book so much. First things first, I'm a big mood reader lately. I have to be really interested/excited for a book in order to read it nowadays because I'm so exhausted from work/life otherwise. I was gearing up all week to read Fourth Wing over the weekend when I finally finished work. So I did have the buildup of a week of being excited to read it. The hype online is real for this book, which I think also helped along my desire to read it. And because I was super excited to read it, it meant that I was loving every moment when I started.

The main reason I loved this book was the characters and then the setting and plot. I'm a big character-driven reader and this book has a lot to root for. Of course I love our main character Violet but I also loved the entire cast of characters (and dragons) we get to know. My top favorites are definitely Rhiannon, Liam, Tairn, Mira, and, of course, Xaden. 

Violet was a really intriguing main character in my opinion. She's got chronic illness/pain so she's not as equal in the physical department when it comes to the other cadets at Basgaith. It sets her back a lot and it's something she consistently struggles with. However, she's badass in so many other ways and still tries her best at the physical stuff even though it takes her 125% more effort than anyone else. She's witty and smart and passionate and I just loved her. Is she perfect? No. But is anybody in real life perfect?

I loved the setting. A war college training them to be dragon riders? Yes please. The moment I heard that I was intrigued and wanted to know all about it. The way it was described and the inclusion of the map of the college allowed me to very vividly picture what it all looked like while I was reading it. I would love to actually go to a place that looks like how I imagine this war college to look like. 

Then we have the plot. Now, as a fantasy romance, the plot and the romance can't be separated from each other too much as the romance is such a big part of the plot. So as I talk about the plot, the romance will naturally worm its way in, kind of how it happened in the book. 

This world is only a few years past a major rebellion that ended with a lot of executions and the surviving children of these rebellious people being forcibly conscripted into being dragon riders (with the unspoken hope that as many die out as possible). Xaden is one of these children. And Violet's mother is a General, one who is responsible for a lot of what happened after the rebellion ended. Naturally, this leads to a lot of resentment between Xaden and Violet. 

That's only the backstory, though, as the actual plot starts with Violet entering this war college to become a dragon rider (in an initiation that almost kills her). It takes place over the span of a year as Violet trains to bond with a dragon and be a rider. It was so fascinating to read about. I'm a sucker for stories set in boarding schools/universities/etc and this was no exception. 

While the main plot is Violet learning to become a rider, there's also a sneaky bit of mystery woven in that I won't discuss so as to not give away any spoilers. However, this added a lot of depth through this first book and heavily contributed to the ending and what I suspect the plot of the second book will be about. 
The last element of the plot was, of course, the romance. It was deliciously slow burning and I loved reading about it. I don't want to give away too much so that everyone can experience it for themselves without expectation but it was so good. I am very much looking forward to how this continues in the next book because DAMN. 

Yes there were some tears at the end when you-know-what happened. Yes I have not stopped thinking about this book since I finished it, even while reading other books. And yes I am obsessively counting down the days until the sequel comes out later this year. And let me just say, I'm so glad the sequel is only six months away instead of a full year. 

Overall, I loved this book so much. It's definitely in my top two of the year so far, if not my number one read. I had so much fun, didn't want to put it down, and never wanted it to end. It was recently announced that it's plotted to be five books long and I am so incredibly excited for each and every one of those books. I can only imagine the fun we're going to get into as it goes along.

Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Series Review: "The Butcher of the Bay" Duet by J. Bree

Series: The Butcher of the Bay
Author: J. Bree
Genre: New Adult Dark Romance 
Reading Order & Individual Ratings
  1. The Butcher of the Bay: Part 1 - 5 // 5 stars
  2. The Butcher of the Bay: Part 2 - 5 // 5 stars
Overall Rating - 5 // 5 stars

The Butcher of the Bay Duet is another spin-off to the Hannaford Prep series, which I recently reviewed as one of my new favorite series of all time. In the span of just a few weeks, I read nine books set in this world of Mounts Bay, including this duet. Sadly, with my finishing this duet, my time in this world is finished for now until the author releases another book or I decide to reread it all again. 

This duet is actually a prequel that follows a beloved character from the other two series: Illi. More specifically, it's the origin/love story of Illi and Odie, his wife. We meet both of this characters in the original Hannaford Prep series, and they play an even bigger role in the Queen Crow trilogy. This duet is their turn to have the spotlight. And seeing Illi turn into an absolute SIMP was everything to me. 

I will say, I was unsure if I was going to love this as much as the others. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to read about Illi but I wasn't sure if knowing the outcome was going to impact the reading experience at all. I can safely say that I underestimated just how much I would love it because this duet was stunning. 

First things first, just because it's a prequel does not mean that I knew what was all going to happen because that was absolutely not the case. Obviously I knew there would be a happily ever after at the end but I didn't realize just how much these characters fought to get there. Which brings me to my next point...this duet needs more trigger warnings than the original series (see below). It's a lot darker and a lot grittier. Basically, whereas the original series was dark and stabby, this duet amplifies it tenfold.

It makes sense. This is the story of Odie, a girl sold into slavery by her own family, and Illi, a criminal known as the Butcher of the Bay for how he leaves his targets. And it's about the lengths they'll go to to be with each other safe and sound. There's a lot of blood, there's a lot of murder, there's a lot of traumatizing shit in here. 

But there's also soft moments...the ones that show the fierce gentleness of love. Illi would do anything for Odie, and she'd do the same. Their love is fierce and passionate and stunning and wonderful. Whereas plot is a huge thing in the other books and romance is equal or less, this duet has their love story at the forefront. It's their love story for the people who have read this series and already love them. 

I read this duet in less than 24 hours. I basically binged it from the moment I started (thank you KU) and couldn't stop for anything. It was amazing and wonderful and fantastic and I loved every second, whether it was heartbreaking or steamy or fluffy or stabby. Their story moved me in such a way and I am so thankful that I decided to give it a go now rather than wait until later because it was truly wonderful. It was also quite bittersweet because even though it was a prequel happening before all the other events of the other books, it was also my last book in this world for a long time. 

Overall, absolutely loved it. Illi is one of those characters you can't help but love and Odie was absolutely phenomenal. She doesn't get as much page time in the other books so it was lovely getting to know her in her own story. I cannot wait to reread all of the Mounts Bay books in the future and revisit these characters because they truly are a special bunch to me. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Book Review: "Last Violent Call" by Chloe Gong

Title: Last Violent Call 
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: "Secret Shanghai" #3.5
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Page Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: February 28, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

*Will contain spoilers for These Violent Delights/Our Violent Ends

Last Violent Call is a collection of two novellas set just after Foul Lady Fortune, which is the first in the sequel series to the These Violent Delights duology. Basically, here's a quick little guide on how to read them and where these novellas sit: These Violent Delights -> Our Violent Ends -> Foul Lady Fortune -> Last Violent Call -> Foul Heart Huntsman (which comes out later in 2023). Anyway, LVC consists of A Foul Thing, which follows Roma and Juliette, and This Foul Murder, which follows Benedikt and Marshall. If there's one thing I love most in this world, it's these four characters. 

Let's start with A Foul Thing. Roma and Juliette have settled down into quiet lives in a small village as leaders of an underground arms ring. They live a life of domestic bliss without too much excitement. But one day they're pulled into another mystery, one that ends up impacting them more than expected.

I loved being reunited with Roma and Juliette. I always sort of refused to accept that they had died at the end of Our Violent Ends and when it was announced that they were a part of these novellas I was so excited. Words can't even describe the feelings I had when it was announced. Even though it was only a small novella, getting to be reunited with them was so much fun. The domestic bliss moments...flawless. The love they have for each other...swoonworthy. And with the way this novella has ended, I am pretty confident in saying that they'll be in Foul Heart Huntsman, which makes me so excited to know the gang's getting back together. 

This Foul Murder is all about a murder-mystery set on a train. Benedikt and Marshall are on a seven-day train ride and someone is murdered one cabin over. But if they stop for the police to investigate, their tight schedule will be ruined. Thus ensues hilarity when they convince the conductor that they're investigators and they start looking into the murder. 

I absolutely loved getting a spotlight on these two. As much as I loved them in the TVD duology, they didn't get a whole lot of page time just on the two of them. Getting over 100 pages of just the two of them on an adventure was...amazing. They're so cute together and I loved seeing them in a bit of domestic bliss together since we didn't get much of it in the original duology. I just...I love them so much. 

The two novellas do tie together and should be read in order. The events of A Foul Thing directly cause and impact This Foul Murder, so you'll be spoiled if you read the second one first. I'd say that these novellas were 70% domestic bliss/fluff and 30% plot, which is exactly what I wanted. The plot in these were pretty low-stakes for the characters, but it is an important overarching plot that will play a big role in Foul Heart Huntsman when it finally releases later this year. Chloe Gong is a mastermind. I could dive into why and could take paragraphs and paragraphs to explain but I'll keep it simple and just say she's a mastermind with how she's created these stories. 

Overall, I'm absolutely obsessed with these novellas. I loved getting slice-of-life, domestic bliss stories even if there was still plenty of mystery and murder and stabbing. The plot threads that were left at the end of these novellas leave so much potential for Foul Heart Huntsman, which just has me even more excited for it. It's definitely going to be interesting to see how Chloe wraps up both the duology and this entire world in this final book. I know it'll also be a bittersweet moment, knowing that I won't get anything more from these characters but also finally knowing how it all ends. Anyway, if you are reading the entire Secret Shanghai world, these novellas are a necessity and honestly just so much fun!

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Series Review: "Queen Crow" by J. Bree

Series: Queen Crow
Author: J. Bree
Genre: New Adult RH 
Reading Order & Individual Ratings
  1. All Hail - 4 // 5 stars
  2. The Ruthless - 5 // 5 stars
  3. Queen Crow - 5 // 5 stars
Overall Rating - 4.75 // 5 stars

Okay so the Hannaford Prep series is one of my new all time series. I read it so quickly and loved every single moment of it. I couldn't stop thinking about the characters so I decided just to dive straight into this sequel series without taking a break. This trilogy is a MFM series following Avery, one of the main non-POV characters in Hannaford Prep. It's set pretty much right after the final book and starts a whole new adventure in the Mounts Bay world following Avery while Lips and the boys are on tour out of town. 

First things first, I love Avery. She is absolutely everything to me and I was so excited when I learned that this series was going to be following her. I was also really intrigued to see how the romances would play out in this one after all of the setup in the original series. Basically, I was down for an entire trilogy about Avery.

Basically the plots in this series revolve around the fact that Lips and the boys are out of town so Avery steps up as the Wolf's representative for all things crime-related. There's a lot going on in the criminal underworld for Avery to deal with, as well as threats to the family. Basically, she's a bad bitch taking on the world.

I can't say too much without spoiling the original series but what I can say was that I loved this one. I loved being in this world, in a much grittier way at times, with new characters. I loved getting closer to characters who were only side characters in the original books. I loved seeing Avery really come to the front of the story, though we all knew that she was a mastermind from the original series. I just loved it.

I will say, the one thing I was surprised not to care as much about was the romance. Now, Avery and [REDACTED #1] was EVERYTHING to me and I loved it! However, the romance discussed for a lot of the original series that finally was allowed to shine...didn't really do anything for me. I didn't care about [REDACTED #2] very much in this trilogy. Yes, there were some cute bits and I didn't dislike them. But I think the relationship on page relied too much on the reader knowing they had past history rather than showing the moments that would make a reader love them together. At least, that's how I felt.

That's pretty much my only main gripe with this trilogy. As I said, I loved it and I loved getting to be in this world even longer than I originally expected. I sort of finished the first few Hannaford Prep books not realizing that all these other series were connected to it and that I'd hit the bombshell of luck. 

All in all, I absolutely loved this trilogy and I'm sad to say goodbye for now. I know there's more to come from this world, though it's going to be an agonizing wait, and I can't wait to see what Avery and Lips and all their family does next. 

Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

April 2023 Book Haul

This month was a tame month when it came to buying books. I only got five books this month, which I think is a pretty good amount for me. It's even better when I factor in that I'd previously paid for two in advance, got one for free, and got one on a steep discount. I'm pretty excited about the books I got this month so let's just dive right in! 

Friday, May 5, 2023

April 2023 Wrap-Up

This month was by far my best reading month of the year. I read a total of 13 books this month (which is almost the amount of the previous three months combined). I loved almost everything I read and I found some new all-time favorites. I also finished three more series this month and reread an entire fourth series which is pretty exciting. So, without further ado, let's get into it!