Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fatal Throne by M.T. Anderson Review

Title: Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All
Author(s): M.T. Anderson, Jennifer Donnelly, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park, Lisa Ann Sandell
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres of all time; I’ve used it as a lens through which to observe and learn about real events and put them in a real-life and modern context. The Tudor period of English history has fascinated me from the time I was a child, when I was learning who Elizabeth I was in school. So when I found out about this extraordinary book, authored by seven different people, I was excited. Too often is the eye of history fixed on the King himself, but not his six wives, all strong, charismatic in their own rights. I really liked the format of this book, because the deeper you got, you were awarded with a different perspective, from both Henry and his queen. It gave me new knowledge on a period in history I thought I knew like the back of my hand. Easily one of the best books of 2018 for me.

We all know the story of Henry VIII and his unfortunate wives—or, so we think. These six women are all completely different, with hopes, dreams, and desires, all united by the desire of one man, one of the most powerful in the world: King Henry VIII. Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Kateryn Parr are each given a chapter, narrated from the first person, telling of each ascent and subsequent death at the hands of their king and husband. This book gives you a front row seat to each of Henry’s queens, the way that they were lifted to the seat of the most powerful woman in England, and the way that they died, most by his hand, however indirectly. Each chapter was narrated by a different author, and it was broken up by Henry’s voice in several pages in between. As a result, this book was really informative and fulfilling, despite the fact that it was fiction. Even with the creative liberties, it was deeply immersive, and I found myself completely captivated.


This book was highly unusual, unlike any other book I’ve ever read. I’m a huge sucker for books with multiple points of view, and this delivered, seven times over. The pacing was breakneck, even when the narrative moved between Henry and all of his queens, different but all coming short of his high expectations. Honestly, there wasn’t a character that I didn’t love, even Henry. I really enjoyed the way that each of his wives got her turn in the limelight, explaining her ascent to the throne and eventual downfall; Anne of Cleves and Kateryn Parr were the only two of the six who outlived the wily old king. I also loved the amount of meticulous research that went into the book, and the sheer teamwork of the authors because of it. It was also really refreshing for the narrative to be focused on Henry the whole time. And that ending—it was absolutely perfect! I liked it a lot. It was really nice that the book contained references and a timeline at the back, it really helped make sense of all of the events that happened in the book. Honestly, I wish this book had been around when I was first learning about Henry and his line, and the wives that were sentenced to death when they didn’t provide him with a male heir. One of the best books of the year for me, and I only wish that there was more! The bottom line: A book about Henry VIII and his wives, Fatal Throne gives you a front row seat to the king’s reign, and each’s wife’s downfall—most to death by beheading, but others managed to escape with their lives. One of the best historical fiction books I’ve read recently! 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist Review

Title: Devils Unto Dust
Author: Emma Berquist
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Western
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book through a recommendation list, and I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t know it was a Western crossed with a horror movie, and I’ve never been a fan of spaghetti Westerns myself. Maybe it was the countless hours spent at my grandfather’s side, watching John Wayne movies, but the genre generally doesn’t appeal to me. I like my escapism with a fantasy tilt. But Devils Unto Dust was a surprising, gritty book that doesn’t hold back, whether on the action or the blood and guts. I enjoyed it, far more than I expected to. The only thing that prevented me from giving it a full five stars was that the plot got kind of repetitive, though I think that that’s to be expected, considering that this meaty debut was close to five hundred pages. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this crazy, horrific roller coaster of a novel, and had few qualms with it. The characters were strong and well-drawn, the plot original, and the pacing sharp and exciting. I really liked the writing style as well.

Daisy ‘Willie’ Wilcox’s world ended when a deadly disease spread through her tiny town of Glory and beyond, turning people into ‘shakes’: zombies who crave the taste of human flesh, their brains fried of all human thought except for hunger, rage, and survival. As if she didn’t have enough problems, her no good drunkard of a pa has stolen money from The Judge, the man who rules over Glory with an iron fist, and has sent Willie to collect it, complete with a bounty on her pa’s head. But the shakes aren’t the only danger that the dry deserts hide, and so she asks two hunter brothers to help her. On her journey, she discovers that she must rely on every bit of strength, wit, and skill to survive, because the desert takes everything in the end…


Like I said, this book was a really pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did; Westerns tend to come off as really dry and rather ridiculous to me. But that plight didn’t befall Devils Unto Dust. The pacing was sharp, moving at a fast clip, and I was captivated entirely by Willie’s rough, wry voice. The worldbuilding was really impressive, too, though I would’ve liked more information as to how the infection came about and spread. I was spellbound, often against my will, by the dangerous desert landscape that Willie has to brave to save her family and the last of her livelihood. I also really enjoyed the other characters: Curtis and Ben Garrett, the two brothers who guide Willie across the barren flatlands, riddled with shakes and many other dangers, Micah, Cath, and Calvin, Willie’s younger siblings, Sam Kincaid, the stubborn, reserved doctor’s son, and of course, Willie’s Pa. This book delivers on action, tension, and more than a little gore; I was laughing, cheering, crying, screaming, and cringing throughout the book. And that ending—holy moly! I was completely floored, and I’m a little sad that this book is a standalone. I couldn’t give it a full five stars due to some light plot recycling, but it was really enjoyable, nonetheless, and I can’t wait for more from Emma Berquist! The bottom line: A gory, vicious, and emotional thrill ride that mashed up an old-school Western and a George Romero movie, I loved Devils Unto Dust! Next on deck: Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by M.T. Anderson!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Belles by Dhionelle Clayton Review

Title: The Belles
Author: Dhionelle Clayton
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Belles, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve had The Belles on my list since before it came out; I read Clayton’s debut novel, Tiny Broken Things, coauthored by Sona Chairaipotra, and I was totally spellbound, so when I heard that she was writing a brand-new series opener, I was so excited. I had to return it a few times, but at last, I got a chance to read it, and I was really surprised! This book is the best that Clayton has penned yet, and I’m so ready for more! A beautiful, powerful treatise on the meaning of power, beauty, autonomy, and free will, The Belles was a gorgeously written, thoughtful and action-packed debut; I felt like I’ve been waiting for this book my whole life, and I can’t wait for the sequel, slated for release next year! Clayton has outdone herself with this book, and it’s one of my favorites of the year.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, and in the glittering, opulent world of Orleans, she and her sisters are revered, treasured as descendants of the Goddess of Beauty; their help is the only way that the damned and gray people of Orleans can be beautiful. But Camellia wants more than to be a Belle; she wants to be the favorite of the royal family. But when she and her beloved sisters finally arrive at court, she realizes that being the favorite is not the gilded pipe dream that she imagined. Dark, terrible secrets are hiding under the surface of the royal family’s shiny veneer, and things get even more complicated when she discovers that everything she’s been taught is a lie. Her powers are even greater—and more dangerous—than she could’ve ever imagined. When the queen asks Camille to use her powers to help one of her daughters, she is caught between the desire to fulfill her lifelong dream of being the treasured favorite or saving herself and her sisters. All power comes at a price, and it might just be too high for her to pay…


This book was really interesting! Easily one of my favorite books of the year. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately seduced by the glittering, beautiful world of Orleans; the prose was beautiful and I loved the way that Clayton structured the worldbuilding. I really liked the way that the book discussed relevant themes, like the meaning of beauty, power, autonomy, free will and choice; it was thoughtful, well-written, and powerful, and I will never forget it. But my favorite parts of the book were Camille and her sisters; I loved Camille’s voice, I loved her almost as much as the world in which she lived. The political intrigue was exciting, and constantly had me guessing throughout the book. I loved all of the characters, especially the royal family and Auguste. I loved the feeling throughout the book; that no one was to be trusted, and that under all of the pretty promises of the court, darker things lurked. It gave me more than a little bit of claustrophobia. And that ending! Oh my gosh, I’m so upset that I have to wait until next year for the sequel! All I know is that this book is nothing less than a knockout, and I can’t for the sequel! The bottom line: A gorgeous, dark, beautifully written series opener, I loved The Belles! One of the best books of the year, and I can’t wait for what’s next! Next on deck: Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron Review

Title: Out of the Blue
Author: Sophie Cameron
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I saw this book on the shelf at my local library and I’ll freely admit that the reason I picked it up initially was for its beautiful, mysterious cover. As soon as I was finished with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue yesterday, I started Out of the Blue and was pleasantly surprised. This is Scottish author Cameron’s debut novel, and I really enjoyed it, more than I was expecting. The prose was lovely, and the plot was a little bit vague, but I think it added to the charm of it all. Thoughtful, beautifully written, powerful and sad, Out of the Blue was a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve for next year! A wonderful addition to the angel genre and canon of young adult literature.

Jaya is over the whole mysterious phenomenon that have caused winged beings to fall to their deaths to the Earth. Ever since the death of her mother, her once close-knit family has fallen apart, with her father and sister scrambling to calculate when the next Being will fall, obsessive in their pursuit of answers and fame. But Jaya is drowning, both in grief and the unshakable certainty that her mother’s untimely death is her fault. Her already tumultuous life is further turned upside down when a Being falls right in front of her eyes. Panicked and desperate, she hides the Being, driven by a strange urge to protect the angel, whom she names Teacake. Things are further complicated by the appearance of Allie and Calum, two kids fighting against the people’s exploitation of the Beings, and Jaya is drawn to them, in spite of herself. But when Teacake is stolen from the trio, Jaya must put aside her own complicated feelings to save her, risking everything to do so.

Like I said, this book was an exciting, pleasant surprise; it was an angel story unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It was a short, sweet, and sad story that had me crying before it was over. The prose was beautiful, if a little sparse, and I was immediately drawn into this new version of the world, where angels falling to Earth is a (mostly) normal occurrence. The pacing was really nice, and the short chapters helped it move it along quickly. I really liked Jaya and her voice, she was a really strong and flawed main character, as well as Calum and Allie. I especially liked the way the author portrayed Allie’s cystic fibrosis. But even more than that, I loved Teacake; her character was so sweet and endearing. The portrayal of cults, too, was really fascinating to me. And that ending made me cry so hard! At times it got a little confusing, which is why I didn’t give it a full five stars, but I think my favorite part of it all was that Cameron left the question of the afterlife (or lack of one) so vague. I really liked that part of it. I’m looking forward to more from this promising Scottish author, Out of the Blue was a pleasant, bittersweet surprise that really had me thinking about the state of the universe. Beautiful! The bottom line: Beautiful, bittersweet, and brilliant, full of love, grief, and deep questions, Out of the Blue was a surprising, thoughtful debut that I really loved! Next on deck: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton!

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee Review

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Series: Guide, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ll be honest; this book has been on my list since before it came out. I’ve checked it out from the library a few times and had to return it, but when I saw it sitting on a shelf at my local library, I snatched it up, eager to read it. I went through a slight slump before I began this book, so when nothing was working, I decided to pick this up, and boy, am I glad I did! This book was so much more than I was expecting. It was a historical fiction romp that was unlike anything I’ve ever read, full of adventure, forbidden romance, and so much humor and tenderness I was alternately between laughing and crying. This book is one of my most recent favorites, and I’m so happy that there’s a sequel coming out in October, about one of my favorite characters, Monty’s little sister, Felicity! I can’t help but feel sad and disappointed that it’s over—October seems so far away from now!
Henry Montague, or ‘Monty’, as he’s called by his friends, is like every other young gentleman his age. Well, sort of. His father despairs of him, that he’s more concerned with drinking, gambling, and bedding beautiful people (both lads and lasses!). So his father sends him away on a Tour of the Continent, with the stipulation he return and be a functioning individual of society. But when Monty’s plans go wildly awry due to some reckless, rakish behavior, he finds himself on a grand adventure straight out of a fanciful novel, on the run from a vicious nobleman who longs for revenge, all the while fighting his forbidden attraction to his best friend, Percy. His little sister, Felicity, longs to be a doctor despite being sent to finishing school, and the trio find themselves on a journey spanning countries, avoiding highwaymen and pirates on the way.


This book was really exciting, surprising, and enjoyable; it was a new kind of historical fiction that I wasn’t accustomed to. It was a funny, hilarious, and romantic adventure across time and continents, and I was crying, laughing, swooning, and cheering all the while. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Mackenzi Lee, and it definitely won’t be the last; I loved every moment of this book, and I can’t wait for the sequel in October! The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately drawn into the book; I loved Monty’s voice, and his narration was spot on. It was also refreshing that he was bisexual, I haven’t read many books with a male bisexual main character. The romance between Monty and Percy had me swooning and groaning in turns; the slow-burn romance between them was one of my favorite parts of the book. Felicity was also one of my favorite characters; her spunk and wit had me laughing, crying, and cheering in triumph; I’m so excited that she’ll be getting her own book later this year! This book has to be one of my favorites of 2017, and I really enjoyed the ending! Easily one of the best books I’ve read recently, and it busted right through my reading slump! What a lovely, hilarious, and romantic romp of a book! The bottom line: A gorgeously written, hilarious and romantic romp through the eighteenth century, I loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue! Next on deck: Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron!

The Outcast by Taran Matharu Review

Title: The Outcast
Author: Taran Matharu
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Summoner, book four
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

My husband and I became fans of Taran Matharu after I won a copy of the first book in his Summoner series, The Novice. I read The Novice and gave it to him, and then we read the last two books in the trilogy together. We were both excited when he announced a prequel to the series, focusing on one of our favorite characters, one of Fletcher’s instructors, Arcturus. My husband demanded that I order it, and he read it before me, since I had been reading something different at the time. As soon as he was done and I finished my other book, I dove in. It took a little while to remember what was going on, as well as the terminology. But once I did, I was blown away. This book is vying for my favorite of the series, and I really hope that there’s more to come!
Arcturus is a lowly apprentice, treated with more abuse and disdain than even his master’s animals. Desperate for a new start, he plans to leave the drudgery of his old life. But his careful planning goes swiftly awry when he accidentally reads a summoner’s scroll and ends up with a Canid. Forced by the crown and nobility to hide his origins, he finds himself at the grand academy of Vocans, where more than lessons in controlling his magic await. Turns out that he’s the very first commoner blessed with the ability to summon, and danger, political intrigue, rebellion and revolution await, and enemies, some obvious and others subtler, hide in every corner. The humble apprentice from a tiny village in Hominum must decide where his loyalties lie, or it could mean losing the blessed life he’s just found…


This book was a really enjoyable surprise. Arcturus is one of my favorite characters in the whole series, so I was really excited when we realized that the book was about him. He’s probably my favorite adult in the whole thing, so it was really nice to see events from his perspective. It was also really cool to see things before they were ‘modernized’ in the kingdom. I can only hope that Matharu has more to come, because I was hooked. As with most sequels, it took a few chapters for me to remember the world, and what was going on, but once I did, I was sucked into the story of this wayward apprentice who stumbled his way to being a summoner. The pacing was breakneck, and even when I wasn’t reading, it was constantly on my mind. One of my favorite parts of the book was his relationship with the other nobles, though most of them were quite hostile, and the dwarves. I really liked his character development, and his friends and instructors were also a great standout. I can only hope that there’s a sequel, because that ending was killer! As I said, this book is vying for my favorite of the series, it was wonderful. I didn’t want to leave the world that Matharu has created. I wanted to give the book five stars, but at times the political intrigue and the nobles got confusing and hard to follow. But it was such a fun return to a world that I fell in love with, and I really, really hope that there’s more! The bottom line: A fantastic, fun prequel to his sleepaway hit, The Summoner series, The Outcast put the spotlight on one of my favorite characters, and I loved it, despite some confusion to the political intrigue parts of the novel. Hopefully there’s more in the future! Next on deck: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles Review

Title: Tyler Johnson Was Here
Author: Jay Coles
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book through a recommendation list, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now. As soon as I was finished with The Price Guide to the Occult, I dived into Tyler Johnson Was Here and devoured it in a day and a half. I just finished it yesterday and honestly, I’m completely stunned. It was a gorgeous, heartfelt and thoroughly thought-provoking debut, and I know that I will never forget it. Tender, ripped from the headlines, and timely, Tyler Johnson Was Here should be required reading for all, no matter their race, age, or gender. Written as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement and inspired by true events from the author’s life, this coming of age story blew me away, and holds the spot for one of my favorite books of the year. Absolutely marvelous in the best kind of way. This book pulls no punches, kicking you in the teeth and breaking your heart and then stitching it back together.

Marvin and Tyler Johnson are twins and have been attached at the hip since birth. But since high school, they’ve been drifting apart. Tyler has been hanging out with a rougher crowd at school, and Marvin is worried that he’s going to lose his brother and closest friend. When the boys head out to a party to blow off some steam with their friends, tragedy soon follows in a blur of violence. When Tyler goes missing, Marvin is determined to find him, fearing the worst. The police claim that his brother was killed in a gang-related incident, but Marvin’s suspicions that something is deeply wrong is confirmed when a video surfaces of Tyler, getting fatally shot by a white police officer. Determined that his brother not die in vain, Marvin is forced to summon the courage to speak out, even if it costs him everything.


This book. This book was incredible. First of all, it was diverse. (Yay for diverse books guys!) There were times when it was really hard to get through, and it made me really emotional, but I’m so happy that I was able to read it before it went back to the library. This book was something that I definitely needed; police brutality against black people, especially young black people, is such an issue right now, and I’m so happy that there have been books highlighting it. The pacing was breakneck, the writing tender and evocative; I was laughing, screaming, cheering, and crying throughout the narrative. This book was straight up a literary punch to the gut, and a total eye-opener.  I loved the characters, especially gentle, sweet Marvin, his headstrong brother, Tyler, Faith, and Tyler’s best friends, G-Mo and Ivy. This book gutted me, and I loved every moment of it. I loved the way that it talked about racism and the class divide so clearly; it made me so happy. And that ending! It made me cry all the tears, and it was so bittersweet and beautiful. Easily one of the best and most timely novels of the year, and I can’t wait to see what Jay Coles has in store next! The bottom line: A timely, ripped-from-the-headlines novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the horrifying police brutality against black people in America, I’ll never forget Tyler Johnson Was Here! Absolutely stunning! Next on deck: The Outcast by Taran Matharu!

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton Review

Title: The Price Guide to the Occult
Author: Leslye Walton
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Leslye Walton won my heart with her gorgeous and heartfelt debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, and when I found out that she was going to be writing another novel, I was so excited. Even more so when I found the book, a bright, colorful little thing, sitting on my library’s shelf, I just knew I had to take it home with me. I was in danger of slipping into a book slump after The Heart Forger, and I decided to give The Price Guide a chance. Honestly, I think it was better than Ava Lavender, and I’ll never forget it. Dark, beautiful, and more than a little terrifying, I was absolutely captivated. One of the best books of 2018 for this girl.

Nor Blackburn is the last descendant of the powerful, magical Blackburn clan, made up of women gifted with different ‘Burdens’, magical gifts that they are blessed with from their original ancestor, Rona Blackburn. A newcomer to the island, she got pregnant by one of the town’s original sons. But when he abandoned her and wished for her death, she turned on the town, cursing her own line in doing so. Nor is almost as powerful as her great-grandmother, but her most prominent gift is the ability to hear, speak to, and understand animals. When the island is barraged with storms and the animals begin to flee for fear of something dangerous and dark, Nor realizes that the events may be closer to her than she could’ve ever realized. When her wicked mother, Fern, returns to the island to carry out vicious revenge, Nor must dig deep inside of herself to find the courage to face her fears, or risk losing everything she loves…


This book was really a darkly pleasant surprise. I adored Ava Lavender, but this book was much darker and creepy in tone. The prose was lovely, beautiful and hypnotic, per Walton’s signature. The pacing was breakneck; I was absolutely captivated by the tragic tale of the Blackburn women, but most of all, Nor. I really liked her as a character, and her development was really exciting. The small island town where she lived was somehow both creepy and charming all at once, and I liked the way the small-town mentality played into the scary parts of the novel. I also really liked Nor’s hardy, weird family, warm and full of love, unusual though they were. And Nor’s romance with one of the boys in town really played well against the horror throughout. I think my favorite part, though, aside from Nor and her character development, was Fern, Nor’s terrifying and powerful mother, sadistic and full of hatred toward all. And that ending—it was killer! Oh my gosh. I loved the way it ended, and I really, really hope that there’s a sequel in the works! The bottom line: A beautiful, gorgeous horror story, The Price Guide to the Occult is a great sophomore novel, and I can only hope that there will be more to come—beautiful, dark, and more than a little creepy! Next on deck: Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles!

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco Review

Title: The Heart Forger
Author: Rin Chupeco
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: The Bone Witch, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

The Bone Witch was one of my favorite books of last year, so when I received word that it was going to have a sequel, I was ecstatic. As soon as it came out, I ordered it from my local library. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and when I realized that it would go back soon, as soon as I finished To Kill a Kingdom, I got started on it. As with most sequels, it took me a little while to remember everything that happened in the previous book, but once things got rolling, I was totally captivated by Tea’s tale; I’m so excited that this will have another book! Chupeco delivers, doubling the action, romance, and political intrigue, to the shocking conclusion that made my jaw drop! The Heart Forger is just as strong as its predecessor, and I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy!
Tea continues telling her tale to the mysterious Bard, going back and forth between the past and present. She has begun mastering the power to control the darkness, and the coveted and reviled ability to take life and return it. Finished with her self-imposed exile, now she longs for revenge and answers. Backed by an army of terrifying daeva, she returns, determined to dismantle the royal family’s hierarchy for their many wrongs against her, and stole the life of the person who meant the most to her. But it turns out that there are secret plots in the shadows that even Tea can’t foresee, and with war brewing amongst the nations, she must discover who she can really trust, or risk losing what’s left of what she has…


I really, really enjoyed this book! As I said previously, as with most sequels, it took a few chapters for me to catch up; but once I did, I was glued to the pages, the pacing breakneck. I really liked the format of The Bone Witch and The Heart Forger, the way that the narrative went back and forth from past to present. Sequels usually make me anxious, because I’m not sure that they’ll live up to the hype. But The Heart Forger more than delivered, especially in the action, romance, and political intrigue areas. I loved the way that the characters were expanded in this book, especially the side characters. But what really stood out to me was Tea’s character development; I loved it, and of course, the romance! I was swooning during those parts. It was really nice, balancing that with the more horrific, terrifying parts of the novel. I was shocked by the ending; I couldn’t believe it ended that way, and the only way I’ve been halfway okay with finishing it is that there’s more to come in the future! I can’t for The Shadowglass! The bottom line: The high-octane sequel to The Bone Witch, I loved The Heart Forger—I only wish I didn’t have to wait nine months for the last book in the trilogy! Next on deck: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo Review

Title: To Kill A Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found To Kill a Kingdom through a recommendation list, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while. When I realized that it was on its last renewal, I wanted to make sure to read it before I had to return it, and boy, am I glad that I was able to. I’m a total sucker for fairy tale retellings, and this was like The Little Mermaid with fangs, action, pirates, dark, ancient magic, and more than a little bloodshed. And honestly, I have to say, it was near perfect. Easily one of my favorite books of 2018! This was the classic tale that reminded me more of Brothers Grimm than Disney, and it was right up my alley. What a magical story!

Lira is the only daughter of the wicked, vicious Sea Queen, and The Princes’ Bane. Determined to live up to her mother’s expectations and the weight of the crown she will inherit, she kills princes and sailors without mercy, taking their hearts (literally) for her own. But in a cruel twist of fate, she kills one of her own. Her mother punishes her with the worst thing Lira can imagine: humanity. If she does not bring her mother the heart of Elian, crown prince of the nation of Midas, she will kill her own daughter and will begin the cruel war between sirens and humans anew. But Lira discovers that humanity goes deeper than a pair of legs and being able to walk on land, and she must decide whether to live up to her mother’s legacy or if she will take her new opportunity to create something entirely new, even if it means betraying everything she’s ever known…


This book was wonderful, and almost perfect. The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite fairy tales, and Christo gave it fangs, claws, and all the dark magic I could handle! The pacing was breakneck, the prose so lyrical and beautiful that I was seduced almost against my will, taken in as much by the treacherous ocean by Lira’s words. I loved the way that Christo provided two different points of view: vicious, fierce warrior princess of the ocean, Lira, and her latest adversary, Prince Elian of Midas, who longs for more than his royal station can give. He feels far more at home and fulfilled on the water, however dangerous it might be, secure in his position as an infamous siren killer. The two collide at the cusp of an ancient war, started by an ancient sea goddess, and they both discover that perhaps their way of life might be wrong, and that love seems to emerge from the most unlikely places. I loved every character in this story, but I loved Elian and Lira’s rich, exciting character development most. The Sea Queen, Lira’s mother, was also quite the standout; she was so deliciously evil! The bottom line: A darkly glittering fairy tale retelling with its own set of fangs and claws, To Kill a Kingdom captivated me totally, and I can’t wait to see what Alexandra Christo has up her sleeve next! An absolutely killer debut that seduced me as well as any siren! Next on deck: The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco!