Robin’s Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest (HighTower Fairytales: Book ) by Jacque Stevens

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Publisher:

Date of publication: January 1st, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy

Series: HighTower Fairytales

Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen (Review here)

Cry Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 1

Lone Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 2

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 3

Between Dog and Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 4

Wolves at Bay: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 5

Depths—Book 6

Graves: A Tale of the Little Mermaid—Book 7

Storms—Book 8

Robin’s Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 9

Marian’s Man: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 10

Lion’s Heart: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 11

Letters by Cinderlight: A Tale of Cinderella—Book 12

Wishes by Starlight: A Tale of Cinderella—Book 13

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

The King of Thieves is dead. Long live the Queen.

Orphaned at five and widowed at sixteen, Marian is the sole heir of Locksley keep and the Earldom of Huntingdon. Her husband, Robin of Locksley, never returned from the crusades, leaving her at the mercy of the sheriff. He chooses her a new husband among his brutal lackeys and taxes her people to rags and starvation.

Marian is sidelined and powerless, but rumors spread of a charismatic thief who could change everything. Clever, brave, and strong, his followers claim that the hooded rogue is Robin’s spirit back from the grave.

Only Marian knows the truth. Her husband is dead, but under his hood, she could be invincible.

ROBIN’S HOOD is the first novella in the High Tower Robin Hood YA medieval fantasy series. If you like strong female characters, friends-to-lovers romance, and non-stop twists and turns, then you’ll love this gender-bent twist on the Legends of Sherwood.


First Line:

I have heard ballads of our adventures already. A few favor the sheriff, saying we’re all cutthroats and devil worshipers, but most speak of the merry outlaws doing clever deeds.

Robin’s Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest by Jacque Stevens

Out of all the fairy tale retellings I have read, I don’t think that I have read a retelling of Robin Hood. So, when I saw that Jacque Stevens had written a feminist retelling of Robin Hood, I was intrigued and I decided to read it. I am glad that I did because Robin’s Hood was a homerun for me.

I liked seeing a woman in the role of Robin Hood. It threw an exciting spin on the myth, one that, truthfully, I haven’t bothered to imagine. I was always stuck on Robin Hood being a man. I never thought to imagine a heartbroken woman who was trying to do what she thought was right in the role. The author was able to do that and more.

Robin’s Hood is set in medieval England, and the book reflects that. Women were often viewed as property and treated as such. So, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that Marian’s guardian decided to marry her, at 5, to his eight-year-old son. He did that to secure his son’s claim to her lands. I also wasn’t too surprised when the Sherriff of Nottingham decided to marry her to his cousin (for the same reason). There are also other examples. A woman was sent to a convent for her “confinement” (women were not allowed to be seen during pregnancy). Marian’s maid was beaten when she refused the advances of the Sherriff of Nottingham.

I enjoyed reading about Marian’s exploits as Robin Hood. I loved how she recruited her band of merry men. That one scene with Little John made me laugh, including how she tried to save him after knocking him into the river. The same goes with her scenes with Friar Tuck. I think he had no clue who Marian was because he was toasted 95% of the time.

The last few chapters of Robin’s Hood did send me into a tailspin. Everything happened so fast!!! But I still loved it. The author wrapped up most of the storylines for this book but left them open enough for the next one.


I enjoyed reading Robin’s Hood. This story was an enjoyable retelling of the myth.

I would recommend Robin’s Hood to anyone over the age of 13. There is mild violence.

I Play One On TV by Alan Orloff

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Publisher: Down & Out Books

Date of publication: July 19th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Google Play

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

All’s great for sixteen-year-old actor Dalton Black as he portrays a teen killer on a crime reenactment show. That is, until he realizes someone is stalking him. When that someone turns out to be Homer Lee Varney, the man convicted of the murder, things take a dark turn, and Dalton is afraid for his life. What does Varney want? Some sort of twisted revenge? Or something even worse?

Can Dalton and his drama friends discover the truth, before they become the killer’s next victims? Stay tuned to find out!


First Line:

He watched as the teen in a dark hoodie emerged from a storage closet and crept through the empty high school locker room.

I Play One On TV by Alan Orloff

The blurb for I Play One On TV caught my interest when I read it. A teenage actor is compelled to look for the truth when the real-life killer contacts him. He and his friends must figure out if the real-life killer is innocent and, if he is, who killed the victim. That alone made me want to read the book.

The plotline for I Play One On TV was fast-paced. Once the book got going (it did take a chapter for the backstory to be explained), it took off and didn’t slow down. There was a little bit of lag in the middle of the book, but the author was able to get the book back on track.

The characters were well written and fleshed out. What I liked the most about these characters is that they were typical teenagers. Put aside the mystery, and they were typical band/chorus/drama geeks. I LOVED it.

The mystery angle of the book kept me guessing until the end. I thought I had the killer pegged until the author threw in that one last twist at the end of the book.


I Play One On TV is a well-written book that kept me guessing until the end. The characters were fleshed out, and I enjoyed reading it.

I would recommend I Played One On TV to anyone over the age of 13. There is mild violence and some mild language.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

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Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Fire

Date of publication: July 6th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQIA

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.


First Line:

It was an honor to work with the dead, but Rylan Hunt – four stone, fifty two inches, eviscerated, my notes read – had died two days before his thirteenth birthday, and no funeral rites would fix that.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

I had to take a couple of days to process What We Devour before I wrote the review for it. Normally, I don’t do that. I can sit down and write my review and be on my way. But with this book, I had to let everything that happened process before I could even entertain writing this review.

What We Devour is a dark fantasy. Before this book, when I thought of dark fantasy, I thought of Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewel series. I went into reading What We Devour, thinking it would be somewhat like those books. I was wrong, very wrong. This book took dark fantasy and ran with it.

There are several trigger warnings that I am going to address upfront. Trigger warnings are taken directly from Goodreads: self-harm (mainly cutting), murder (mass and child), sacrifices, executions, factory-related accidents and death, child neglect and abuse, filicide, references to siblings’ death, multiple scenes with death, mass suicide, violence, and blood.

What We Devour is a fast-paced book. From the beginning scenes, where Lorena is prepping a burial body, this book doesn’t stop at those frantic last scenes. The author doesn’t sugarcoat what Lorena is or what she can do. She also doesn’t sugarcoat The Heir, his mother, or anyone else in the book. I read through the book believing that 90% of the people introduced were psychopaths. I mean, if you could create or destroy, wouldn’t you be? Wouldn’t your abilities drive you mad, even with the bindings? I know it would for me.

The world that What We Devour is set in is a bleak, brutal world. Children, more often than not, outlived parents. If you were a wrought (noble or vile), you were often bound, against your will, to the court. You could also be brought up on false charges and sacrificed to The Door. As I said, it was a brutal, terrible world to live in.

I felt terrible for Lorena. All she wanted was a quiet life in Fellhollow, being the town’s undertaker. Instead, she is forced to reveal that she is a dual wrought and then forced to research for The Heir. She is forced to make terrible decisions and face some very uncomfortable truths about people she loved. By the end of the book, though, she did what she thought was right…what she thought would protect the people of her country. She couldn’t stop the inevitable, but she could save as many lives as she could.

The Heir was 100% a psychopath. But I don’t think he was a natural-born psycho. Instead, he was a made one through the abuse of his father and mother and by the power of his Vile wrought. I did have sympathy for him, though. He wanted, in the worse way, to close The Door so that the sacrifices would stop. He wanted someone to understand him.

What We Devour kept me on my toes reading. There were several twists in turns in the plotline that took me by surprise. Just a warning, don’t get too close to any of the characters (except Lorena). They are all expendable.

I loved the fantasy angle of the book. The author created a world that repulsed me, but at the same time, it intrigued me. Her explanation of Vile and Noble, how the wroughts were made, The Door, and what would happen when The Door was opened had me hooked.

The end of What We Devour left me sitting with my mouth open. Everything that happened took me 100% by surprise. The author didn’t resolve any storylines. Instead, she left me wanting to read book 2.


What We Devour is a dark fantasy that had me hooked from page 1. I enjoyed reading it!!

I would recommend What We Devour for anyone over the age of 21. There are violence, blood, murder, and suicide references. See above for a complete list of triggers.

Ember of Night (Ember of Night: Book 1) by Molly E. Lee

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Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 4th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1

Shadow of Light—Book 2 (expected publication date: November 30th, 2021)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

I am a weed.

Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.

But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.

Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.

Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.

So what does he want?

I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…

We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.


First Line:

Even from our position on the roof, the alleyway reeks of cured meats and rain-soaked garbage, the stench curling upward like it’s as desperate to leave this place as I am.

Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee

I am going to start this review with a warning. There are graphic scenes of child abuse in Ember of Night. Not only did it trigger me, but I was shaking mad at every adult in the book (including Harley’s boss). How many black eyes and burn marks can you see before thinking, “Well, maybe something is going on, and I should get involved.” Shame on them (and yes, I was invested emotionally at this point). Because of how graphic the abuse got (in one scene, Harley’s father beats her unconscious), I highly recommend that older teens read this book.

Before you all go, “Oh wow, graphic abuse, yeah, not for me,” I do want to add that the author did mention the abuse in her author’s note, AND she gave resources out if you/someone you know is being abused. So a huge kudos to her for not only the warning but for making those resources available at the beginning of the book.

Harley was my hero for the entire book. Understandably, she had almost no self-esteem, and there were times where she wanted to commit suicide. But, she had a lifeline. She had her 7-year-old sister, Ray, to protect and take care of.

Harley dealt with the supernatural part of the book better than I would have. I mean, she was attacked by three different types of demons, found out that her martial arts instructor was a demon, and learned what Draven was all within an afternoon. I would have been in a corner, sobbing my eyes out and rocking back and forth. But not Harley. She went out and kicked ass (all while making sure that Ray was safe).

I loved Draven too. He was hot and broody. He had an instant connection with Harley that he tried to ignore. I mean, he was supposed to find out if she was the Key (it is explained in the book) and then kill her if she was. He wasn’t supposed to develop feelings for her or protect her from the demons trying to get at her. His backstory was even more tragic than Harley’s. He wasn’t abused like she was, exactly. Instead, he was an outcast because of his unique abilities.

Harley and Draven’s romance was sweet. They were not looking to fall in love with each other. There were sparks whenever they were together. I expected them to admit their feelings sooner but was pleasantly surprised when it happened later rather than sooner.

There is sexual content in the book. Harley and Draven do get together in Ember of Night. The author does a great job of leading up to them having sex with some heavy petting scenes before ending the chapter. It wasn’t graphic, but it was implied.

The main storyline was well written. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me guessing at what Draven was going to do when Harley grew into her powers. A massive twist in that plotline (involving Harley’s father) took me 100% by surprise. I had to put down my book and take a minute to process it, and it was that big of a surprise.

Several more minor storylines were well written and were successfully merged into the main storyline by the end of the book. These secondary storylines fleshed out certain characters and explained why certain people did things in the book.

The author did a fantastic job of creating a complex and diverse world where demons and angels intermingled with humans. I couldn’t get enough of the different races of demons or angels.

The end of Ember of Night was a shock. Not only because of the big battle scene, which was truly magnificent, but with what was revealed.

My only complaint about the ending was it was a cliffhanger. I hate cliffhangers!!!


I enjoyed reading Ember of Night. It was a well-written book that kept me glued to the pages.

I would recommend Ember of Night to anyone over the age of 16. There are graphic child abuse scenes. There is implied sex. There are scenes of heavy petting. There is violence, and there is language.

Letters by Cinderlight: A Tale of Cinderella (HighTower Fairytales) by Jacque Stevens

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Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: May 20th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: HighTower Fairytales

Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen—Book 1 (Review here)

Cry Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 2

Lone Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 3

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 4

Between Dog and Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 5

Wolves at Bay: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast—Book 6

Depths—Book 7

Graves: A Tale of the Little Mermaid—Book 8

Storms—Book 9

Robin’s Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 10

Marian’s Man: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 11

Lion’s Heart: A Tale of Sherwood Forest—Book 12

Letters by Cinderlight: A Tale of Cinderella—Book 13

Wishes by Starlight: A Tale of Cinderella—Book 14 (expected publication date: June 17th, 2021)

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Got Book From: Publisher

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse, Bullying


I, Elya Pavlovna, am a horribly wicked and unfortunate girl.

After her governess is fired for teaching her to read, Elya writes in a secret journal to continue her lessons on her own. Though, as an unwanted scullery maid, she doubts she will ever have much to say.

But when a charming stranger answers her private messages, Elya’s world turns upside down. He calls her sweet. He calls her strong. He challenges her to come to a palace celebration and leave her abusive past behind.

Each small push reveals more risks and hidden heartache. Will the magic of their words be enough to rewrite their story together, or will it all fade away at midnight?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and untrustworthy fae, this romantic fantasy is for you! One-click now to start the magic, romance, and heart-wrenching emotional journey!

Letters by Cinderlight is a twist on the Cinderella story based in Slavic mythology and full of magical fairies with stories of their own.


First Line:

The story I have to tell is a sad one, but it is also a mystery.

Letters by Cinderlight: A Tale of Cinderella by Jacque Stevens

Review:

I am not one to like fairy tale retellings, and I do not go out of my way to read books that do so. I find that most retellings are boring. So, when I read the blurb for Letters by Cinderlight, I almost decided not to review it. But there was something about the blurb that caught my interest. I am glad I chose to review Letters by Cinderlight. It is one of the more imaginative fairytale retellings that I have read.

I usually don’t do this, but I want to give a heads up on possible triggers. Child abuse is the big one here. Elya is abused in every way except sexually. While most of the abuse scenes are not graphic, the scene where Elya is deliberately burnt in the face by her stepmother is. It was a scene where not only could I feel Elya’s pain, but I could hear her screams and smell the flesh burning. It did trigger me, but I could get through my trigger and continue reading the book.

The other trigger in the book is bullying. Elya is bullied horribly by her stepsisters. There is name-calling, a song that they would sing to her, and they did everything and anything to get her in trouble. They weren’t as graphic as the child abuse scenes, but they could still trigger someone.

Letters by Cinderlight did take a couple of chapters for the storyline to get going. But once it did, it moved fast. There was minimal lag (mainly after Lady Mother burnt Elya’s dress and before Grandmother Lada appeared), but it didn’t take away from the storyline.

I liked that the author incorporated Slavic mythology into the book. There was talk of rusalkas (one talked to Elya at various points in the book) and domovoy. Lada, who is spoken of at the beginning of the book and shows up towards the end, is the Slavic goddess of Spring. It made the book so much more interesting to read.

I loved Charming!! He was unwavering in his support for Elya (even when she was rude to him), and he tried so hard to bolster her self-esteem up. He made Elya rethink why she was being treated the way she was. He even changed the invites so scullery maids would be invited to the ball. I didn’t see him falling in love with Elya until after telling him about what her stepmother did. His response was telling, as was his letter at the end of the book.

Letters by Cinderlight is a very clean book. There is kissing, but I expected it between Charming and Elya.

The end of Letters by Cinderlight drove me nuts. I understood why Elya did what she did. She was scared. She had zero self-esteem and truly believed that Charming couldn’t love someone like her. It was one of the saddest scenes that I have read. That isn’t what drove me nuts. What drove me nuts is that the book ended on a flipping cliffhanger. I HATE cliffhangers!!!


Letters by Cinderlight was an interesting retelling of Cinderella. It was engaging and fast-moving. This is a book that I would read again.

I would recommend Letters by Cinderlight for anyone over the age of 16. This is a clean book with only two kissing scenes towards the end of the book. But there are disturbing scenes of child abuse, with two graphic scenes involving Elya, her Lady Mother, and a candle. There are also scenes of bullying.

Unleash (Spellhounds: Book 1) by Lauren Harris

Unleash (Spellhounds, #1)

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Date of publication: May 5th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Paranormal, Shapeshifters

Series: Spellhounds

Unjust—Book 0.5

Unleash—Book 1

Unmake—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Better World Books

Format Read: eBook

Got Book From: Amazon

Trigger Warning: Violence, Death of a parent, child abuse (talked about)

Goodreads synopsis:

Craving a gritty, kickass heroine? If you like guns, magic, & heartbreaking drama, you NEED this book!

Helena Martin doesn’t know who she hates more, the sorcerers who fired the magic-laced bullet or the gang-lord master who used her mother as a shield. It’s not the price she expected for escaping magical slavery, nor is the unstable power now pulsing in her veins.

Caught between her former master’s hunters and the Guild Sorcerers determined to kill them, she finds a safe haven at a dog rescue willing to take in a different kind of stray. But Helena’s newly-unleashed power is a beacon for her enemies. And they’re threatening the first place she’s ever thought of as home.


Before I start the Unleash review, I want to let everyone know that I will change up how I do my reviews. The whole beginning/middle/end of the book wasn’t working for me. So, enjoy the new format!!


Unleash is the story of Helena. Helena and her family were magical slaves for a gang lord, Gwydain. When the book starts, Helena, her cousin, and her mother were waiting to be rescued by Guild Sorcerers and Enforcers. As part of a deal, they would help take down the Gwydain and get their freedom back. But it didn’t quite go down as planned. Helena’s mother was killed by the Guild that was supposed to help them.

Those first few chapters were tough to read. The desperation and then terror that Helena felt was palpable. She was forced to watch as Gwydian murders a girl and uses her blood to prime spells. She is forced to act against her will when Gwydian is being attacked. She is forced to watch as her mother is shot by the people who were supposed to her. It was overall sad and a little overwhelming to read. I usually don’t get overwhelmed by events in the book (I have a pretty thick skin), but in this case, I had to take a break from reading. I had to gather myself because I identified with Helena.

Helena’s flight to Minnesota broke my heart. She was forced to leave her mother behind and run. Then, she decided to part ways with Morgan. While it was a smart move, it still broke my heart even more for her. She was 17, alone and scared to death of what would happen next. Meeting Krista and Jaesung was the best thing that could have happened to her.

The pacing of Unleash slowed down considerably after Helena met Krista and Jaesung. After the frantic, almost manic pacing of the first few chapters, it was a relief to see the book go to a much slower pace.

I liked that Helena shielded Krista and Jaesung from what was going on with her. They knew something was up, but they weren’t sure what it was.
I also liked that Jaesung and Krista’s reactions were natural when Helena told them a very watered-down version of what happened to her. What I mean by watered down was that she left out all the magic and shapeshifting. She stuck to the bare bones of what happened.

I did think it was a little ironic that Helena found sanctuary, and then employment, at a dog rescue. Why ironic? Well, Helena was forced into being a shapeshifter by Gwydian (her flashback to that was sad). Her shapeshifter form is an Irish Wolfhound. I also thought it was smart that she kept with Krista and Jaesung. The Guild wouldn’t attack her while she was with “mundanes.

The different types of magic were explained in Unleash. There was a cultural mishmash of the magics used. There were Hindu, Asian, and Celtic featured. I also liked that the author gradually explained the magical part of the book. It gave me time to process what was told.

The secondary characters were well written and fleshed out the story. Krista was one of the main secondary characters that I loved. She was loud and brash. But she was also one of the kindest people in the book. She had a softer side, and when it was revealed what was going on with her, my heart broke.

Let’s talk about Jaesung. He was Korean, having emigrated to the US when he was nine years old. He did Martial Arts (that scene at the wedding was AMAZING). He never gave up on Helena, even when he knew there was more to her story than what she was telling. I think I fell a little bit in love with him during the book. He was gentle and, most importantly, he listened. I wish I could pull him out of the book and clone him….lol.

Helena and Jaesung’s romance was a gradual thing. The author snuck bits and pieces of how Helena noticed Jaesung and how she felt safe with him. There were several near kissing scenes until that hot scene in the bathroom. What I liked is that their relationship didn’t feel forced. It felt natural and realistic (well as real as a YA Paranormal book will feel).

After a calming middle of the book, it picked up its pace again. It didn’t get a frantic as it did at the beginning of the book, but it was pretty fast paced. Helena learned much more about why Gwydain had made her family slaves. I will say that I was surprised by everything that was revealed by the Guild. All I could feel was astonished by what was revealed. A lightbulb went over my head because it made sense why Gwydain was doing what he did.

The real MVP of the last half of the book was Jaesung. He learned about Helena’s past and was cool with it. That did surprise me because I know if I found out that magic was real, I would be flipping out. He also tried, stress tried, to protect Helena several times. I felt he dealt with what happened to him at the end of the book pretty well, to be honest. I would have been flipping out about that too.

The end of the book was pretty good. I was a tiny bit disappointed by what happened to Gwydain. But he got what he deserved. The author did wrap up all storylines, except a couple, and I figure they will feature in the next book. There was enough left open at the ending for me to want to read book 2.

Overall, Unleash was an excellent paranormal YA book. It was fast-paced with a lot of different representation in the book. I am eager to read book 2. I would also recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16. There are graphic violence and talk of child abuse (Helena remembers sleeping with her father at 9 to stop a gang member from raping her). There is some kissing, and Jaesung and Helena have sex. But it is not graphic.

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy: Book 1) by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy, #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date of Publication: April 24th 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy

Ash Princess-Book 1

Lady Smoke-Book 2

Ember Queen-Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBoooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Audible

Format read: eBook

Got Book From: Library (via OverDrive)

Trigger Warning: Violence, child abuse (one very graphic scene towards the end of the book)

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


First Line:

The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.

Ash Princess by laura sebastian

My Initial First Impressions of Ash Princess

Ash Princess has been on my radar for a while. I had requested it from NetGalley before it was published and got declined. I was pretty irritated by that since I had been reading posts from other bloggers about how good it was. Then, a couple of months ago, a lightbulb went off in my head. Why don’t I use the LIBRARY and see if they have it through Overdrive? So, that’s what I did, and after a month’s hold, I was able to get my digital fingers on Ash Princess.

I started Ash Princess by crying. Yes, crying. I sobbed my way through the prologue and the first few chapters. What Theodosia was forced to go through broke my heart. It also made me want to jump into the book and beat the living out of the Theryn and the Kaiser. When Theodosia was forced to kill her father while he was singing her a freaking lullaby, I lost it. I had to put my Kindle down and let myself cry it out.

I was suspect at Cress and Theo’s friendship from the beginning. Yes, I was that cynical person who couldn’t quite believe that the Kaiser’s executioner allowed his daughter to be besties with the deposed Queen of the land they had just taken over. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed when Cress became jealous when the Prinz started paying attention to Theodosia.

Speaking of the Prinz (or Soren), I couldn’t help but be cynical over his and Theo’s relationship evolved. He watched her being abused (whipped and beaten). He must have known of his father’s plans for Theodosia. Heck, I knew about them from the beginning. The Kaiser wasn’t subtle. Even the Kaiserina knew….smh. To have a romance, all of a sudden blossom between Soren and Theodosia, didn’t feel right to me. I mean, I knew it had to happen, just like I knew that there was going to be a triangle (Blaise, Theodosia, and Soren). It doesn’t mean that I had to like it.

Blaise, Heron, and Art showing up towards the end of the first half of the book was interesting. I say interesting because they were all escaped slaves they were all marked by the mines in some way. They were also dedicated to overthrowing the Kaiser and restoring Theo to her rightful place as Queen. I wouldn’t say I liked Art’s attitude towards Theo during this part of the book. She seemed to think that Theo lived this pampered life while her countrymen toiled. It annoyed me that Art would talk to her Queen that way.

The first half of Ash Princess flew by for me. The author did a great job of keeping my attention to the plot. There was no needless subplots or secondary characters cluttering things up, which I enjoyed.


Mid-book Impressions

As much as I loved the first half of Ash Princess, I thought the middle of the book was a little boring. I understand that the groundwork had to be laid for Theo and her group’s plan to work. It still bored me. I stopped reading the book for a couple of days because I got bored. But, once I got over that small bump, the book did pick up speed.

Theo and her group had a well thought out plan that Theo kept waffling on. Kill the Theryn, Cress, and Soren. Theo was OK with killing the Theryn. I mean, he was the one who slit her mother’s throat while her six-year-old self watched. But killing Cress, who was innocent, and Soren, who she was falling for, seemed like overkill.

Cress and Theo’s friendship did falter in the middle of the book. I was expecting it, primarily since Theo was tasked with killing the Theryn and Cress. But it still hurt to read. Cress was an innocent, and in Theo’s mind, shouldn’t be touched. I will say, though, I liked the 180 that Cress did towards the end of the book’s middle. But even then, Cress was looking out for Theo.

I was a little iffy on Soren and Theo’s romance. It was too sudden (like I said above). To go from him being apathetic to loving her within a couple of weeks made me go “meh.” It screamed of Instalove. Honestly, I thought that Theo was too emotionally damaged (from the abuse) even to form those kinds of attachments. But she did. That night on Soren’s boat was sweet, and it did show a different side of Soren then what I expected.

Blaise, Heron, and Art’s characters became a little more fleshed out. I loved Heron. He was a gentle giant who was a badass. I did feel bad when he explained his backstory. To lose his love to mine madness made my heart hurt. Art was still a raving bitch, but even that was explained. I felt that there was more to her character than what the author was letting on.


End of Book Impressions:

The end of Ash Princess was not what I thought it was going to be. A couple of twists in the plotline made me go “Huh” and “No way.” The author did an excellent job of wrapping up plotlines and setting new ones in motion.

I will warn you all that there is a very graphic scene where the Theryn whips Theo in front of the Kaiser and his court. It was a brutal scene to read. I was crying by the end of it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Theo was ready to do whatever she could to free her people.

Cress and Theo’s friendship took a sudden and drastic turn at the end of the book. I did not blame Cress or Theo for how they felt. I mean, Theo did try to kill Cress, and instead, something else happened. I do think that if Theo acted differently instead of rubbing what happened in Cress’s face, maybe things would have been different? Who knows. All I know is that Theo’s actions created Cress, and Theo will have to do something about her.

I will say that Soren did come through for Theo after she was imprisoned. I figured that Blaise, Heron, and Art would be the ones to rescue her. So when Soren appeared, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised at who Theo let loose in the dungeons, nor was I surprised at what was said to her. And I wasn’t surprised when Theo did what she did after the escape.

There was one twist in the plot that was left for last. I was taken by surprise, as was Theo. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her to have that surprise sprung on her. Poor Art did try to tell her but was always cut off.

Like I said above, individual storylines were wrapped up, and new ones were started at the end of the book. There was enough not written for me to want to read book 2. I need to see what will happen to Theo, Soren, and everyone else in the book.


My Overall Thoughts on Ash Princess

I enjoyed reading Ash Princess. It was a fast read with complex characters. Theo was incredibly strong, and she was lucky to have people who were willing to help her. Some scenes made me uncomfortable (the implied rape of Art and the death of her younger brother was one of them). I didn’t get Theo and Soren’s sudden romantic relationship, but I got why the author had it happen so suddenly.

I would recommend Ash Princess to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, implied rape, slavery, and child abuse (implied and otherwise).

Stolen Gypsy by Elizabeth Horton-Newton

Stolen Gypsy by [Horton-Newton, Elizabeth]

4 Stars

Publisher:

Date of publication: April 15th, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense

Where you can find Stolen Gypsy: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

“Her parents are dead. The government has failed her. Now she doesn’t even know who she is. Terza Blackstone is rescued by handsome Irishman Tristan Devlin and that begins the search for her true identity. When everything you thought was yours has been stolen from you, there’s only one thing to do. Steal it all back. What do gypsies, the Witness Protection Program, a drug cartel, and a young girl running for her life have in common?” 


My Review:

I made the mistake of judging this book but not only the cover but the blurb. I thought that this was going to be your typical young adult/mystery/suspense. I was expecting the usual drama that goes along with a Young Adult novel. So, when I started reading Stolen Gypsy, I was shocked to be proven wrong. This book was nothing like what I thought.

The plot of Stolen Gypsy was simple and then got hard to follow as the book went on. Terza was orphaned when her parents were killed in a car accident. After another car accident, which takes the life of her temporary guardian/lawyer, Terza is rescued by Tristan. She realizes that everything she has been told is a lie. She also realizes that some powerful, dangerous forces want her. One group wants to reclaim her, another group wants to hide her, and the last group wants to kill her. Terza needs to figure out who she can trust and who she can’t. What will happen to Terza? Will she be able to live a normal life? Or will she be on the run for the rest of her life?

I couldn’t help but feel bad for Terza. Her life had been unsettled, and she never formed a real relationship with her parents. Because of that, I could understand why she didn’t feel grief when they were killed. I thought that she dealt with everything that leads up to Tristan, helping her well. But, then again, she didn’t have time to process what was happening to her. Even after that, she barely got time to process the information that was piled on her. I was in awe that she didn’t have a full-fledged breakdown. Because I know I would have. By the end of the book, she wanted everything to end. I didn’t blame her. I would have been tired of dodging cartels and gypsies at every turn. 

Tristan was a huge part of the book. I did think that he was going to have some secret identity as a spy or something. It was the way he acted at the beginning of the book. It was a let down when he was revealed to be an average guy. But that let down didn’t last long. I developed a massive crush on him by the end of the book. If only he were real…sigh.

Peter was also a considerable part of the book. I didn’t know what to make of him for most of it. I thought that he was working either for the gypsies or the cartel at one point in the book. I didn’t care for his backstory with Nora and Tristan, but it gave their relationship an edge that was needed.

I wasn’t a massive fan of a Terza/Tristan romance. She was in high school, and he was older. I know its a double standard for me, but I kept cringing whenever they would almost kiss or exchange significant looks. That’s where the author kept it. Except for one kiss, it was innocent.

The plotline had a few twists in it. A couple, I saw coming. But there were some that I didn’t see coming. Most of those happened at the end of the book, so that I won’t get into it. I will say that I was shocked.

The end of the book was satisfying. Not only because of what was implied but also because there were two alternate endings. I loved both of them!!


I would give Stolen Gypsy an Older Teen rating. There is no sex (there are two steamy kissing scenes). There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Stolen Gypsy. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**


Have you read Stolen Gypsy?

What are your thoughts on it?

Let me know!!

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy: Book 2) by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy Book 2) by [Duncan, Emily A.]

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: April 7th, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Something Dark and Holy

Wicked Saints—Book 1

Ruthless Gods—Book 2

Untitled—Book 3 (expected publication date: 2021)

Where to find Ruthless Gods: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

The stunning sequel to instant New York Times bestseller, Wicked Saints!

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.


First Line:

There was a darkness.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

My Review:

I was pretty excited when I saw that SMP/Wednesday Books had granted my wish for this book on NetGalley. I hadn’t expected it, though. My wishes never get granted on that site. After my excitement died down, I realized that it was the 2nd book. I was still optimistic about the book, though. Lately, I have been reading books that are 2nd or 3rd in a series, and that was stand-alone. I figured that Ruthless Gods would be the same. Oh boy, was I wrong.

Ruthless Gods had a fast-moving plotline. The author was able to keep the pace up even with the book being split into numerous POVs. That I did like, she marked who’s chapter it was. I had zero issues following along with the book that way. It also worked well with the pacing. Some storylines were left open, and characters that were mentioned but never brought up again. But, considering that this is the 2nd book in the series, I have a feeling everything will be tied together in the 3rd book.

As I mentioned above, Ruthless Gods is NOT a stand-alone book. You do need to read Wicked Saints before reading Ruthless Gods. That way, the backstories/explanation of the different countries/explanation of the religions (which is essential!!) are fully disclosed. I was lost when reading Ruthless Gods because I didn’t read Wicked Saints first.

Another source of irritation for me was the lack of understanding of the different relationships between the character. Nadya and Malachiasz, I got right away. Serefin and Kacper’s was a little muddier. Ostiya, Parijahan, and Rashid’s relationships with each other, and the central 3 was even more mysterious. That is where reading Wicked Saints would have come in handy — now saying that I was impressed with the character growth that Serefin, Nadya, and Malachiasz had throughout the book.

Ruthless Gods had to have been one of the more darker, bloodier young adult books that I have read in a while. The amount of violence was terrific. The author doesn’t even bother to build-up to the first violent scene. It was bam, there you go. Now, that didn’t bother me. I figured by reading the synopsis that it was going to be bloody and violent. But it might bother other people.

I was fascinated by a couple of things in Ruthless Gods. I was fascinated that this book was based loosely in Russia. I do wish that there was some glossary that explained the different terms used in the book. I was also fascinated by the various religions portrayed. I do wish that there was a glossary dedicated to the different saints/terms that Nadya and her fellow monks used. Again, it would have gone a long way to helping me understand everything.

The storylines were well written also. There was almost too much going on in the book at one point, but the author did a fantastic job keeping everything separate. The Nadya/Malachiasz storyline broke my heart. Serefin’s broke my heart too. I couldn’t imagine living like he did and being forced to do the things he did.

The best part of the book was the last part of the book from when Katya was introduced onwards. Everything just snowballed once the group got into that forest. I expected what Serefin and Nadya did. The whole book was leading up to those two crucial things. But, I wasn’t expecting what happened to Malachiasz. That took me completely by surprise. The epilogue was fantastic. I cannot wait to read book three because of what was promised in that epilogue.


I would give Ruthless Gods an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild language. There is violence. I would reccomend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Ruthless Gods. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Losing Kyler (The Kennedy Boys: Book 2) by Siobhan Davis

Losing Kyler: A High School Bully Romance (The Kennedy Boys Book 2) by [Davis, Siobhan]

4 Stars

Publisher:

Date of publication: March 27th, 2017

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Series: The Kennedy Boys

Finding Kyler—Book 1 (Review Here)

Losing Kyler—Book 2

Keeping Kyler—Book 3

The Irish Getaway—Book 3.5

Loving Kalvin—Book 4

Saving Brad—Book 5

Seducing Kaden—Book 6

Forgiving Keven—Book 7 (Review Here)

Summer in Nantucket—Book 7.5

Releasing Keanu—Book 8 (Review Here)

Adoring Keaton—Book 9 (expected publication date: September 2020)

Reforming Kent—Book 10 (expected publication date: ?? )

Where you can find Losing Kyler: Amazon

Book Synopsis:

Condemned to repeat the sins of the past…

Faye thought losing her parents was the most devastating thing to happen to her, but she was wrong. Her uncle’s scandalous revelation has sent her into a tailspin, leaving her questioning her entire existence.

Everything she believed is built on a lie.

And the one person she shares a passionate, soul-deep connection with can’t be there for her.

Faye and Ky can’t be together. It’s forbidden. Though they are determined to avoid replicating their parents’ mistakes, caving to their feelings is as tempting as the apple in the Garden of Eden.

Ky had sworn off girls until Faye bulldozed her way into his life. Now, she’s his whole world, and their forced separation is crushing him. Once his manipulative ex resurfaces—hell-bent on ruining the Kennedys—he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones including turning his back on the one person he can’t live without.

Then tragedy strikes and all bets are off.

But is it too late?

When Faye needs him and he isn’t there for her, guilt and hurt threaten to obliterate their love. As they start to rebuild their fractured hearts, another sordid family secret is uncovered, and Faye worries Ky may be lost to her forever.

But can you truly lose someone if they don’t want to be found?

Please note this series is only recommended to readers age 17+ due to mature content and themes.


First Line:

The room spins.

Losing Kyler by Siobhan Davis

My Review:

Losing Kyler is the 2nd book in The Kennedy Boys series. This book is not for teenagers. Again, loud so people in the back can hear, THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR TEENAGERS. There are mature themes in this book that I wouldn’t be comfortable letting anyone under the age of 21 read. I wasn’t comfortably reading some of the things that went on in this book, and I am 42. Also, this cannot be read as a stand alone book.

The plotline for Losing Kyler is fast-paced and well written. There were a few times where I got overwhelmed with what was going on (there was a lot), but that was just me. The flow of the book was terrific too. There were no dropped characters or storylines.

The plotline with Faye, James, Alex, and Kyler was wonderfully written. I can’t say what I would have done if that bombshell was dropped on me. I want to think that I would have acted like Faye did when she found out. But the truth is, I would have had a nervous breakdown.

I thought Alex and James were incredibly selfish during that plotline. There were more than a few scenes where I wanted to smack one or both of them upside the head. They were the main reason why their kids were rebelling out. I wanted to reach through my Kindle, shake them, and tell them to start acting like parents and the teenagers they aren’t.

The plotline with Kyler, Faye, Brad, and Addison was full of drama. The drama between the 4 of them was almost too much. But it was a ton of fun to read. I loved reading Faye and Addison’s interactions. I kept thinking “Meow” every time they were together.

I did wonder what dirt Addison had on Kyler. I mean, he was adamant that he wanted nothing to do with her towards the end of Finding Kyler. Then to hook back up with her? I wasn’t surprised at what it was. I also wasn’t amazed at her role in everything that happened in the book. I am so waiting for her to get hers!!

The storyline with Kal and the rape trial broke my heart and, later on in the book, enraged me. I didn’t understand why Lana accused him of rape. But when specific details came to light, I understood. All I have to say is what goes around comes around.

The sexual attraction and tension between Kyler and Faye were terrific. Even though they had to keep their hands off each other, there was a lot of sexual tension. I had to put down my Kindle and fan myself. When they finally did have sexual contact, holy moly was it intense.

The end of Losing Kyler is a cliffhanger. I am not a big fan of cliffhangers. But in this case, it worked. I want to know what happens next. I want to know if Kyler and Faye will have their happily ever after.


I would give Losing Kyler an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Losing Kyler. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**