Of Thorns and Beauty review

Of Thorns and Beauty review graphic

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

If you love mystery, a snowy setting and a big brooding love interest in your romantic fantasy, Of Thorns and Beauty is for you. Besides being a Beauty and the Beast retelling, this engaging story has all the elements to keep the pages turning well into the night, which is exactly what I did.

Of Thorns and Beauty Cover

Zaina, the narrator, uses contemporary language, in contrast to the king she marries through a mysterious scheme by her conniving mother-figure. His more old-fashioned language gives the whole kingdom a traditional feel, like she’s stepped back into another era. The atmosphere at the castle, where servants are masked at all times, was one of the best parts for me.

Though this ends on a cliffhanger, I enjoyed reading it all the way through and seeing the slow-burn romance. The push and pull between Einar and Zaina was wonderfully executed, too. I look forward to reading more of this series.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about these authors, visit mahleandmadison.com.

The Eastie Threat review

A Review of The Eastie Threat, by Andrew Einspruch

The Eastie Threat (The Western Lands and All That Really Matters #5), by Andrew Einspruch (humorous fantasy; August 18, 2022)

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

What a whirlwind this book was! Not only is Eloise still adjusting to her role as queen, but the entirety of The Eastie Threat has tension building under the usual humor and heartfelt moments.

And boy does it work! I had to stop reading before the climax, and I found myself daydreaming about what might happen next. I was that into the story.

The Eastie Threat Cover

There are some really poignant moments in The Eastie Threat, and a lot of my own beliefs about the familiar characters were turned upside-down. We see Eloise learn her mother was a person with flaws, and assert herself in a way that earned many a silent cheer from me, even as it felt she might lose control of her reign at any moment. I think it’s fair to say that none of the primary characters emerged from this book the same way.

This is my favorite book I’ve read in the series yet.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about this author, visit andreweinspruch.com.

Married by Fate review

A review of Married by Fate, by Jenny Hickman

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

I’d never read a book by Jenny Hickman before, and I’m now a fan! Married by Fate was an awesome enemies to lovers fae romance, with similarities to Tessonja Odette’s To Carve a Fae Heart.

The magic in this story is limited to the far and fits more of a low fantasy model. The character dynamics are so well-executed, and it’s easy to root for the two leads who are drawn to each other despite themselves. There’s even an optional spicy scene offered in a link at the end!

Married by Fate mockup

This a true romance, with no strong external conflict to make up the climax of the book, focusing more on the couple and their relationship as it develops. The writing in Married by Fate was great and the story carefully crafted, and I practically cheered at so many moments.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about the Arranged Marriages of the Fae event, visit arrangedmarriagesofthefae.com.

To learn more about this author, visit jennyhickman.com.

Heart of Cinders review

A Review of Heart of Cinders, by J. Darlene Everly

Note: I received an ARC and am leaving an honest, voluntary review

I picked up this book looking for a fun, exciting Cinderella retelling with a kick-butt heroine, and that is exactly what I got–plus a pair of touchingly loyal friends and modern Red Carpet-worthy gowns. Heart of Cinders is the story of a steely assassin who finds her heart softening and starts to question what she’s been taught.

Once MC Cinder headed to the palace, this book really picked up and was hard to put down. And what is a fairy tale retelling without a cheeky nod? Cinder’s ladies-in-waiting are Gus and Jacquetta, and it was so fun and lovely to see the friendships developing and see Cinder kick butt in a whole new way, this time as the lady she was meant to be (with knife skills and archery lessons on the side). I rooted for Cinder and her friends at every turn.

Heart of Cinders Book Cover

But the ending of this book! Heart of Cinders ended on the bad kind of cliffhanger, the kind that left me exclaiming “What do you mean it’s done?!” I actually enjoy a well-executed cliffhanger ending, but this one ended in mid-scene. The worst part is it worked and I wish I could grab book two right away. There were enough breadcrumbs along the way to make me extremely curious about where this series will go next, too.

My rating:
4/5

To learn more about this author, visit jdarleneeverly.com.

Frozen Hearts and Death Magic review

A Review of Frozen Hearts and Death Magic

Note: I received an ARC and am leaving an honest, voluntary review. Parts of this book depict a violent, abusive situation.

This book was so much fun! Though Frozen Hearts and Death Magic is inspired by telanovelas, I didn’t find it overly dramatic. The characters, each a royal of kingdoms living in fear of a fae invasion or, in River’s case, an actual fae, were so lovely to get to know, and the intrigues were all interesting and absorbing (better still, readers are on the side of the one kingdom that suspects the bad guys). Because of the modern language and characters, this was a great book to read after Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star.

I really enjoyed the magic system, which is hereditary and usually limited to one ability per character. Ironworkers can manipulate metal (Fel is so accomplished, he can fly; he also was born without hands and has learned to use metal ones seamlessly; he deals with ableism in a bit of fantasy representation). Leah is a necromancer grappling with fascinating dream magic. Naia is just beginning to discover her magic, and her relationship with mysterious fae River gave me the tingles from chapter one.

I would easily rate this book higher, but the writing changed in one of the storylines and there were flashbacks inserted late in the plot, interrupting all the exciting things that were happening. Combined with a lot of copy editing issues there that got distracting for me, I found myself getting a bit frustrated.

Frozen Hearts and Death Magic

A controlling, abusive situation that another character found themselves in was an extremely stressful surprise that others may also find hard to read. (Thankfully, the characters are awesomely magical enough that it doesn’t last long and they otherwise have plenty of agency.) It was well worth reading through these parts for me because I enjoyed everything else so much.

If you are the kind of reader who minds modern language in a high fantasy setting, this may not be for you (I did find it particularly well-suited to the teenage characters, and bristled a bit when the adults slipped into it at times). All that being said, I will happily pick up book two and see what happens to these wonderful characters and their developing magic.

Overall, I thought Frozen Hearts and Death Magic was un-put-downable.

My rating:
4/5

To learn more about this author, visit dayleitao.com.