Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Synopsis:

Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.


Disclaimer: I received a free Netgalley eARC of this book from a Twitter giveaway hosted by the author. Thank you to Ciannon for hosting the giveaway!

Rating: ★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (UK paperback, Affiliate Link)


I wanted to like Witches Steeped in Gold so much. At face value, it looked like something I would really enjoy, but I’m sad to say this wasn’t the case. Most of the time, I had to force myself to pick this book up, and when I did, I was either bored, tired, or confused.

Continue reading “Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart”

Review: The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed over her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the Czar, who is determined to imprison any who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend Alik, the only piece of home she has left.

That is, until he is brutally murdered.

A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held against his will. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot.

And it has waited years for release.

CW: death of a family member, discrimination, childhood trauma, work camps


Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from Harper 360 YA (via Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Harper 360 YA!

Rating: ★★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link)


The Bright & the Pale centres around Valeria, a girl whose family and entire village was frozen years ago by a mysterious magical force from the nearby Knnot mountain, where a rare mineral resource called “lovite” is harvested. The Czar, believing that everyone from Valera’s village is responsible for bringing a plague upon the world, orders all of Valeria’s people to be captured, leading to her seeking refuge in a Thieves’ Guild with her friend Alik. After a mission gone wrong, she believes Alik to be dead, but later discovers he is alive, though captured. The price of his freedom? Valeria’s assistance leading a band of people back to her village and into the depths of the Knnot mountain, a place she never imagined returning to.

Continue reading “Review: The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski”

Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.


Disclaimer:  I received a free Advance Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Huge thanks to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of The Prison Healer

Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link)


So at the time of writing this review, I finished The Prison Healer 10 minutes ago.

WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!?!

*clears throat*

Excuse me while I google therapists and take several business days to recover.

Lynette Noni, ma’am, you had no business writing that ending. NO BUSINESS.

I genuinely don’t know how I’m supposed to write a coherent review of this book, but I guess I have to try.

Continue reading “Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni”

My Easter Break 2021 TBR

Hi everyone!

Long time no see.  I’m back from my month-and-a-bit long hiatus with my TBR for the Easter holidays!

Uni deadlines meant I haven’t been able to read a lot lately, although thankfully the books I have read (The Prison Healer and The Cruelest Mercy) have been fantastic! My review of The Prison Healer is scheduled to go live next Tuesday, March 30th, so be on the look out for that!

The Easter break means no classes and no looming deadlines, which in turn means more reading time! Yay! As always, this TBR is more than a little ambitious, and I’ll probably only end up getting through half of these, but I’ve been in a real reading mood lately, so I guess we’ll see. Some of these books you likely would have seen on some other TBRs before, as I would likely have kept putting them down in favour of other books and not finishing them! But I’m determined to this time…

As usual, I’ll be including Blackwell’s affiliate links in case you want to buy any of these books and read alongside me! You can also purchase any other books using my general Blackwell’s affiliate link, if you feel so inclined.

Onto the books! –

Continue reading “My Easter Break 2021 TBR”

Top 5 Series I Want to Start [Top 5 Tuesday]

Hi everyone!

Today’s Top 5 Tuesday isn’t the one set for this week (which was Top 5 Authors I Want To Try), only because I liked this post from a previous month better! I’ll try to stick to the actual topics for future weeks though. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Meeghan Reads.

There are so many series I want to start, so this post could have been a lot longer than five, but I’ve already broken one rule with this post, so I’ll stick to five for the time being! Who knows, maybe I’ll do a Part 2 for this post.

If you’d like to help support me while shopping for any other books besides those featured in this post, you can do so by using my general Blackwell’s affiliate link.

Onto the series! ––

Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber

Caraval

Purchase the first book

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Purchase the first book

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Empirium trilogy by Claire Legrand

Furyborn

Purchase the first book

Goodreads summary of the first book:

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

Purchase the first book (UK paperback)

Goodreads summary of the first book:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a magical debut novel from a gifted and gorgeous voice. It spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent

Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Purchase the first book

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

What are your top five series you want to start? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the Night

Synopsis:

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.


Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book on Netgalley during a short period of time it was set to “Read Now”, meaning I did not have to request and be approved for it. Nonetheless, thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for allowing me to read this book early!

Star rating: ★★★.5

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link)


Down Comes the Night is a book I desperately wanted to love. I featured it in my Most Anticipated Releases of 2021 list. I joined the official street team, The Queen’s Guard, for it. Unfortunately – as seems to be a common theme this year – it was not meant to be. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. This isn’t to say there’s anything particularly wrong with this book, because there isn’t. I just think, in this case, my expectations were a little too high.

Continue reading “Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft”

Top 5 Series I Haven’t Finished [Top 5 Tuesday]

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is rather late in the day (sorry about that!), but it’s the top five series I haven’t finished! I’ve decided, to maximise the amount of blog content I can put out, that I’ll be joining in with the Top 5 Tuesday meme (is it a meme? A tag? I don’t know!) hosted by Meeghan Reads.

As usual, I’ll be including Blackwell’s affiliate links for all of these books, in case you’d like to purchase any of them for yourself! Unfortunately, because Blackwell’s doesn’t stock the international editions of these books, they’re all UK paperbacks. That might not bother some of you, but I just thought I’d include it here. If you’d like to help support me while shopping for any other books, you can do so by using my general Blackwell’s affiliate link.

Onto the series! ––

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

The Queens Rising

Purchase 

Goodreads summary of the first book:

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved, some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. Who will be that queen?

With gorgeous description and detailed rendering of a world where not everything is what it seems, debut author Rebecca Ross weaves an intricate tale of revenge, loyalty, and, ultimately, self-discovery.

Why I haven’t finished this series: I really don’t have a good excuse for this one! I read and loved The Queen’s Rising (and Rebecca Ross is one of my favourite authors), and I bought the second book, The Queen’s Resistance, but just never got around to reading it! It’s definitely high up on my reading ‘to do’ list this year.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

anemberintheashes

Purchase

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Why I haven’t finished this series: My relationship status with this series can currently be defined as ‘complicated’. If you’ve read my January and February 2021 book haul post, then you’ll know I maybe sort of accidentally spoiled myself for the rest of the series (all the major plot points, essentially) while reading the third book. I was, to say the least, heartbroken by my favourite character’s ending. I’m still not over it. They deserved so much better (no spoilers from me!). I plan to finish this series eventually, so I can experience all the remaining happy parts, but it might be a while before I’m ready to go back.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen

Purchase

Goodreads summary of the first book:

This is a world divided by blood—red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance—Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Why I haven’t finished this series: Okay, so, technically I have finished this series, as I’ve read Red Queen through to War Storm, but I haven’t read the novellas, bound up in Broken Throne. I own a gorgeous signed, lined and dated copy of it though, so I definitely plan to read Broken Throne in the near future! Maybe when my immediate TBR isn’t so daunting and I’m not up to my eyeballs in eARCs, haha.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

ashprincess

Purchase 

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Why I haven’t finished this series: I own all three books in this trilogy, and I’ve read the first. I just haven’t had the chance to read the second and third books yet! Maybe that, coupled with the fact that I didn’t love the first book. There was nothing wrong with it by any means, but it wasn’t spectacular.

The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince

Purchase

Goodreads summary of the first book:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Why I haven’t finished this series: I finished the second book, The Wicked King, and then lost interest in the series, and so never picked up The Queen of Nothing (although I know pretty much everything that happens in it, thanks to the internet). I know it’s well-loved by many people, and I did enjoy the first two books. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day.

What are your top five series you need to finish? Let me know in the comments!

January & February 2021 Book Haul

Hi everyone!

I haven’t done a book haul post since May of last year, and I’ve gotten quite a lot of book mail recently, so I thought I would share it with you all! I guess, in a way, this is my long-hand/written version of unboxing Instagram stories, seeing as I’m not really active on my Bookstagram anymore (I never really enjoyed the whole photo-taking thing, although I wish I did, considering that’s where a lot of publishers are focusing their efforts these days… sigh).

As always, the typical disclaimer: This isn’t in any way trying to brag or anything by showing (or telling you about) all the books I’ve received recently. If you know me outside of this blog (i.e. we’ve talked on Twitter), then you’ll know this is an obscene amount of book mail for me: I never get this much! Most of the time, I’m lucky if I can haul one or two books a month. This post is just me… trying to find blog content, to be honest with you, haha!

I’ll include Blackwell’s affiliate links as usual, in case you’d like to purchase any of the books I talk about in today’s post. I’ll also be stating whether the books were purchased, traded for or were a gift, as well as if there’s anything special about them. This list isn’t in any particular order either.

Please note that there are some sequels on this list which I haven’t read the first book for! For fear of spoiling myself, books which fall into this category will not have a Goodreads summary, but I will include purchase links if you’re interested in them.

Onto the books! ––

Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift [Signed & personalised copy, Purchase]

Cast in Firelight

Purchase

Goodreads summary:

Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.

Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.

The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh.

About my copy: If you’ve read my review of Cast in Firelight, then you’ll know how much I adore that book! Of course, I had to treat myself to a belated Christmas present and order myself a signed and personalised copy of it from “Books & Books” in the States. The finished copy is just gorgeous in person, and it has a place of pride on my shelves! I miiiiiight have already seen the cover for its sequel, Bound by Firelight, and let me tell you – it’s stunning! I can’t wait for everyone else to see it.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody [Purchase]

Ace of Shades

Purchase (US paperback)

Goodreads summary:

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

About my copy: There’s nothing special about this copy of Ace of Shades, except for the fact that it’s the hardback edition. You might know that the hardback of Ace of Shades is out of print, and therefore a bit tricky to get unless you’re willing to splash a pretty penny on it. I haven’t even read the series yet, so that certainly wasn’t an option for me, but I managed to come across a hardback in okay condition for under £10 on eBay, so I went ahead and bought it! I’ve followed Amanda on Instagram for years, so I hope I like her book!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir [Signed & stamped B&N Collector’s Edition, Purchase]

anemberintheashes

Purchase (UK paperback)

Goodreads summary:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

About my copy: My relationship status with the Ember in the Ashes series could currently be defined as ‘complicated’. I read and adored the first two books, but like the fool that I am, ended up spoiling pretty much the rest of the series partway through the third book, when I happened to hop on the wiki one morning (I know, I know)… Now, I’m living in blissful ignorance, pretending the ending of the series (or, more accurately, my favourite character’s ending) didn’t happen. Series ending besides, I was only on the second book (I think?) when I bought this, and it’s still nice to have in my collection – especially as I think we’re getting a matching hardback of A Torch Against the Night soon!

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa [Owlcrate exclusive edition, Purchase]

Shadow of the Fox

Purchase (Standard hardback)

Goodreads summary:

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

About my copy: I had read Shadow of the Fox years ago when it first came out, and loved it, but never ended up picking up the rest of the series! I prefer the Owlcrate cover to the standard cover, as I personally think the red goes better with the blue and purple of the sequels, compared to the standard black. So, when I saw a copy in good condition for sale on eBay, I knew I had to have it!

Forged in Fire and Stars by Andrea Robertson [Gift]

Forged in Fire and Stars

Out of stock on Blackwell’s website

Goodreads summary:

Games of Thrones meets An Ember in the Ashes in this action-packed fantasy from the internationally bestselling author of the Nightshade series.

Ara has always known about the legend of the Loresmith: the blacksmith who served alongside the kings and queens of every generation to protect the kingdom. It was her fate to inherit the title–though she never truly believed it would come to pass since the monarchy’s downfall years before.

But when the lost Princess Nimhea and Prince Eamon steal Ara from her quiet life with a mission to retake the throne–and take her place as the Loresmith–her whole world turns upside down. Their journey will take Ara on a dangerous adventure to discover new truths about her family’s legacy, and even to face the gods themselves. And with a mysterious thief as an unexpected companion, Ara must use all her skills to figure out just who she can trust, and forge the right path forward–for herself, her kingdom, and her heart.

From internationally bestselling author Andrea Cremer comes a gorgeously written new fantasy series perfect for readers of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse or Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series.

About my copy: This was a surprise present from my amazing friend Lydia @ Silver Wolf Reads! Lydia had spotted it on my Amazon WL and kindly sent it over as part of her ongoing book destash, to make room for her ever-growing JLA collection. Thank you, Lydia!

Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland [Gift]

beyondtheblackdoor

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Goodreads summary:

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

About my copy: As well as Forged in Fire and Stars, Lydia also sent me Beyond the Black Door! I’ve heard such good things about this one. I can’t wait to read it!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller [Signed ARC, Trade]

Daughter of the Pirate King

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Goodreads summary:

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

About my copy: Daughter of the Pirate King is one of my favourite books, and so I had to have an ARC of it! I had arranged a trade for a signed ARC of DOTPK back in November/December, but because of COVID and Christmas-related shipping delays, my friend in the States (shout out to Alex!) was only able to forward my parcel onto me after Christmas, meaning this little unicorn turned up at my door in January! I’m so happy to have this in my collection – and, while it hasn’t arrived yet (and so isn’t included in this post), I also have an ARC of Daughter of the Siren Queen on the way, so my Levenseller ARC collection is slowly growing. Only The Shadows Between Us and Warrior of the Wild to go! (If you have these and are trading them, please reach out to me via Twitter DMs!)

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross [Signed ARC, Trade]

The Queens Rising

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Goodreads summary:

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved, some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. Who will be that queen?

With gorgeous description and detailed rendering of a world where not everything is what it seems, debut author Rebecca Ross weaves an intricate tale of revenge, loyalty, and, ultimately, self-discovery.

About my copy: In my parcel of goodies from the States was also a signed ARC of The Queen’s Rising – another one of my unicorns! I can’t believe I managed to essentially get two of them by trading for Amazon WL books! As the saying goes, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’! Now to find an ARC of Sisters of Sword and Song (again, if you’re trading one, please reach out to me!). On a side note, I’m so sad there won’t be physical ARCs of Dreams Lie Beneath 😦 But I’ll definitely be requesting an eARC when they’re available!

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie [Fairyloot exclusive edition, Purchase]

bone criers moon

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Goodreads summary:

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die

About my copy: If you’ve read my Most Anticipated Releases of 2021 post, then you’ll know that my Mum got me the Fairyloot edition of Bone Crier’s Dawn for Christmas (thanks Mum!). You’ll also know that, at the time, I had yet to track down a matching copy of Bone Crier’s Moon for my collection. Thankfully now, I have!

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon [Signed, Purchase]

The Mask Falling

Purchase (Standard edition)

Goodreads summary:

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.

As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them…

About my copy: At the time of ordering this book, my Bone Season collection was complete. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, it’s now been broken up thanks to its loss of The Song Rising (more on that later), so I’m desperately hoping for a reprint of the purple edition of that book! Anyhow, I now have a signed copy of The Mask Falling in my collection, from Forbidden Planet.

Imprison the Sky by A. C. Gaughen [Purchase]

Imprison the Sky

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About my copy: This is the sequel to one of the books Lydia @ Silver Wolf Reads got me for Christmas! I haven’t read the first one. Reign the Earth, yet, but at least now when I get around to reading it, I’ll be able to binge the series! Thank you, Lydia, for buying me the first book!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand [ARC with signed bookplate, Trade]

Furyborn

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Goodreads summary:

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

About my copy: For ages, I’ve been seeing people online talk about Furyborn! Granted, some of the reviews are mixed, but there are certain influencers on Instagram who I follow who absolutely rave about this series. So, when I happened upon an ARC of it for trade on the #arcsfortrade tag on Twitter (in exchange for books on an Amazon WL, at that!), I jumped at the chance. On one hand, I hope I like the book so it’s another series I can get invested in and add to my collection, but at the same time, I hope I don’t because it means I’ll have to track down ARCs of Kingsbane and Lightbringer, which from my lurking on the tags, are notoriously hard to get!

Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto [Owlcrate edition, Gift]

Heart of Flames

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About my copy: My Owlcrate copy of Heart of Flames was a belated Christmas present from my Mum – thanks Mum! Unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time for Christmas, and it showed up in January instead!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer [Purchase]

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

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Goodreads summary:

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

About my copy: As you’ll see from the last two books in this book haul, I obviously needed to read the first book before I could start the second and third! There isn’t much else to say about this one!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer [Signed ARC, Trade]

A Heart So Fierce and Broken

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About my copy: This certainly wasn’t a book (or an edition) I was ever expecting to haul! But, I happened upon a trade post on one of the bookish trade groups on Facebook, where the person was looking for the purple collectors edition of The Song Rising, and had (among others) ARCs of A Heart So Fierce and Broken and A Vow So Bold and Deadly to trade. I haven’t read the first book in the series, so I was taking a complete chance in trading away my potential money-maker in TSR, but I’ve heard so many good things about the Cursebreakers series, I decided to go for it! I didn’t have any particular attachment to TSR, and I figure if I really don’t like the series, I can always trade my ARCs for something else I know I’d like.

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer [ARC, Trade]

A Vow So Bold and Deadly

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About my copy: I wasn’t expecting the trader to agree to trading multiple ARCs for The Song Rising, but they agreed, and so here we are! I feel a little smug having an ARC that I know a lot of people are after, especially when I haven’t even read the series, haha! I really hope I’ll love this series… I’m desperate to believe in the hype! My reading year this year hasn’t been a great one, so I’m really in the mood for something a) I can sink my teeth into and b) I can rate highly! It’s about time I added a new favourite series to my collection!

And that’s my book haul for January and February of 2021! Are there any books on this list that you’ve read? Or that are on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter @_princessofink!

WWW Wednesday #3

Hi everyone!

 

Today’s post is rather late, but I’m bringing you the second (technically third?) instalment of a tag series I revived last week: the WWW Wednesday tag!

 

In a nutshell, it’s a summary of my latest reading activity! 

 

Let’s get to it! –––

What I’ve Finished

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Of Silver and Shadow cover

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Goodreads summary:

Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

Thoughts: Unfortunately I didn’t love this book nearly as much as I was expecting to! If you’re interested, you can read my review of Of Silver and Shadow here.

 

What I’m Reading Currently

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the Night

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Goodreads summary:

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.

Thoughts: At the time of writing this post, I’m only about 10% into Down Comes the Night, but I’m really enjoying it so far! All the reviews I’ve seen for this book have been overwhelmingly positive, so I have high hopes for the rest of it!

 

What I Plan On Reading Next

The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae

The Cruelest Mercy

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Goodreads summary:

In this sequel to The Kinder Poison–which People magazine proclaimed a “delicious high-stakes adventure”–the magical kingdom of Orkena is on the brink of war, and the only person who can save it is Zahru, the girl they once doomed for death.

After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While crown prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she’s content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they’re dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he’s the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods’ mark as proof. Even more surprising–he’s not the only one.

Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can’t let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he’s crowned, there’s no telling what horrors he’ll unleash to win the war.

Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne…but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?

Thoughts: If you’ve been here for any amount of time, then you’ll know just how much I love The Kinder Poison (review here). I’ve been told that eARCs are expected to drop basically any day now, so I’m eagerly anticipating reading it! I’m fully prepared to drop absolutely everything to read The Cruelest Mercy the second my Netgalley link lands in my inbox.

 

or

 

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

woven in moonlight

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Goodreads summary:

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

Thoughts: I included Woven in Moonlight as my next read in last week’s post, but I ended up deciding to start Down Comes the Night instead! Depending on when eARCs of The Cruelest Mercy come out, this could be my next read, or it might have to wait a little bit… we’ll see!

 

What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!