Oathbound review

A review of Oathbound, by Victoria McCombs (an image of the book, a vivid red rose with a sword through it, on a background of choppy ocean waves)

(The Royal Rose Chronicles #1)

YA fantasy, pirate fantasy adventure, romantic fantasy

Favorite quote: “‘Do you see how he looks at her as if he’s found a priceless pearl inside an oyster?’ Heat flooded my cheeks. I had noticed that.”

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

This book just got better and better as it went along!

Early on, Oathbound feels like historical fiction more than fantasy. Though it was on the slower side, I felt like I was on the Royal Rose. But the magic was still missing for me. Then came the magical creatures (and one creepy ghost ship) on the high seas. This book became a page turner for me from that point on.

The romance subplot is woven throughout the story and in the “friendship” between narrators Emme and Arn. It’s so lovely and subtle, a true slow-burn that goes beyond two friends having that conversation. With Emme’s distrust of pirates, Royal Rose captain Arn has a lot to prove.

I loved all the side quests and intrusions by magic and ghosts. Emme is also dealing with a congenital degenerative disease, so we see her struggling with mobility. Note that this book ends on multiple wicked cliffhangers. I can’t wait to read book two!

My rating:
4.5/5
A mockup of Oathbound, with a vivid red rose with a sword through it, on a background of a fuzzy white blanket, a candy cane, a pillar candle, a sparkly fake poinsettia, a snowman, a Himalayan salt votive, some stones and mini Christmas lights

Wizardom Legends: Thief for Hire review

A Review of Wizardom Legends: Thief for Hire

(The Outrageous Exploits of Jerrell Landish #1)

Humorous Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure

fantasy heist, anti-hero, morally gray hero

Meet Jerrell Landish, the light-hearted version of Kaz Brekker!

An itinerant thief, gambler and flirt rather than a crime boss, Jerrell is still every bit the anti-hero with no compunction about killing. Yet Thief for Hire is the kind of book you read with a smile on the edge of your lips, and frequent head shakes. It’s not often the word “outrageous” is an understatement!

This book won me over. I found it easy to dive in, but all the casual violence (though not overly graphic) made it hard to root for Jerell for a while. As he got into increasingly tight spots, I became invested again and read straight through to the end.

My rating:
4/5
A mockup of Thief for Hire surrounded by fall decor

The Borderlands Princess review

ReviewTheBorderlandsPrincess

(Stone Circle #1)

Spicy romantic fantasy, fae romance

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

I really enjoyed this debut novel from the Of Smoke and Shadows author. The story, though, is just getting started, so expect a bit of a cliffhanger!

The Borderlands Princess pulls a fun switcheroo on readers. At the start, I expected it to be the story of a human Princess betrothed to a fae king who is morally gray at best. While that’s true, it’s so much more than that! It’s really about a princess whose fate was decided long before she was born learning how to reclaim own life. She’s also a mature princess, not at all what I usually read.

The opening chapters were pacey and the plot had plenty of little twists, plus one big moment that I thought was a home run. There was also some clever play with timelines. I did wish it sunk deeper into Connall’s perspective and showed more of what happened on his end, since there was a lot going on in a short period of time. Note that there were also many line editing issues in the version I read, and the pacing lagged a bit in the middle. The last quarter, however, was truly exciting. It absolutely flew by for me.

I’m already looking forward to book two!

My rating:
4.5/5

Warrior of Blade and Dusk review

A review of Warrior of Blade and Dusk

(The Zheninghai Chronicles #2)

Other books in this series:
Maiden of Candlelight and Lotuses (#0)
Guardian of Talons and Snares (#1)

romantic fantasy, Eastern-inspired fantasy, clean romantic fantasy

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

If your favorite parts of Guardian of Talons and Snares were the pursuit on the road and the developing, complicated romance between Aranya and Kai, you will love book two, Warrior of Blade and Dusk, as much as I did.

This was such a fun, exciting and satisfying conclusion. Truly action-packed, it takes the best parts of book one and amplifies them. Kai, for one, has softened a lot, without losing too much of his sparky edge. (Though we do see him requesting snuggles!)

The romance also kicks into high gear on this one. Araya also stays her plucky self, but continues to strengthen mentally. I love that an action and romance-forward story focuses so much on its character’s psychological development.

Though the series continues with the story of Princess Meiling, there were some scenes suggesting interesting storylines to come. I’m really looking forward to it!

My rating:
5/5

Wish Marked review

A review of Wish Marked, by Lissa Bolts

(Stones & Curses #1)

Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure

slow-burn romance, portal realms, fae, jinn and other fantasy creatures

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

This book was a slam dunk for me! A smart-mouthed, resilient narrator, a magic underworld with dashes of both romantic fantasy and portal fantasy, AND a canine sidekick? Yes, please! I absolutely loved Wish Marked.

Fans of W.R. Gingell’s The City Between series (see my review of Between Jobs) will enjoy this one. Parts of it also reminded me of Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star, plus Holly Black’s The Book of Night (though despite its stakes, Wish Marked manages to be less grim and gritty). This is a smart urban fantasy with interesting, hidden realms and a unique take on jinn and their magic.

One thing to consider: there is one heck of a cliffhanger at the end (the fun kind, though, that teases what the rest of the series will bring). I was thoroughly entertained by this read and have already preordered book two.

My rating:
5/5
Wish Marked cover

The Cursebound Thief review

A Review of The Cursebound Thief by Megan O'Russell

(The Fracture Pact #1)

Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure

fantasy heist, vampires, fantasy creatures, multi-POV

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

The Cursebound Thief is advertised as a good pick for Six of Crows fans (you can read about my Kaz Brekker obsession here) and it very much delivered for me! This book is all about suspense and the characters’ personalities. Just watch out for that darn cliffhanger that spoils some of the fun!

Full of snappy banter and extraordinarily well-balanced scenes with several speakers, this magical heist tale is set in the real world in modern times. Though I didn’t have a good sense of some of the characters’ personalities at first, overall they were distinctive and each character had their own way of interacting with the others. The perspectives were also balanced enough that I felt like I got to know everybody, though some secrets still lurked under the surface.

The stakes in The Cursebound Thief (mend the Fracture that seemingly destroyed magic) are set early, and the elaborate plot and road trip had me hooked. I only wish it had ended in a different place, though I guessed the cliffhanger was coming. This was a fun read with a complex world and lovable cast.

Now where is that book two?!

My rating:
4.5/5
The Cursebound Thief Mockup with autumn decorations

Of Roses and Rituals review

A review of Of Roses and Rituals, by S.L. Prater

Steamy fantasy romance, fantasy retelling; October 24, 2022

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is for mature readers, with steamy open door romance, and also deals with grief/the death of a child and a fiancé)

I thought this Beauty and the Beast retelling was incredibly well-plotted and an enjoyable read. While it is very (very!) spicy and steamy, author S.L. Prater took the time to show her characters connecting intellectually and emotionally instead of just relying on the fated mates trope. Of Roses and Rituals also has some fun horror elements and surprising depths.

Both Fiona and her love interest, Elias, are dealing with grief. Elias has had time to acknowledge and cope with his, while Fiona has tamped hers down. The treatment of grief here is honest and thoughtful.

Of Roses and Rituals Mockup with fall decor

Of Roses and Rituals also touches on body image, with the message that everyone deserves to be loved and feel attractive. It’s an extreme case, of course (a curse has changed Elias’s body to that of satyr-like beast), but I thought it worked and deepened the characters’ connection. The action parts were also smoothly worked into the plot and pleasantly spooky.

This was a very well-rounded steamy romance and a great addition to the Kriegspiel world.

My rating:
4.5/5

To learn more about this author, visit streetwitch.net.

Married by War review

A review of Married by War, by Sarah K.L. Wilson

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

What a beautifully written story, and the darkest in the series so far. Full of grim depictions of war and its effects on those fighting it, Married by War has its Goose Girl moments in the plot and no shortage of heartbreaking scenes. But dog lovers should be careful! My heart still aches when I think back on certain scenes.

The cover of Married by War, surrounded by fall leaves and lights

There were so many wonderfully written lines in the book that I highlighted, most of them full of the heartache of its characters. The romance is born of genuine shared kindness and humanity amidst a lot of darkness, and I very much rooted for the two narrators.

I think it’s not a spoiler at this point to say these are all HEAs in the series, and this one is incredibly hard-won. My heart still aches a little after this one, but it was also so gorgeous, like finding a bit of goodness after wading through dark times.

My rating:
5/5

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