Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet was a whirlwind and in the best way.

**Slight spoilers abound after this line**

I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy, A Promise of Fire (you can read my review here), which I embarrassedly started reading without realizing it was a romance, which did make for a really fun surprise. This time around, I was ready to witness the romance between the couple I’d come to adore so much.

And then I read the first chapter.

I’m one of those readers of romance who absolutely hates it when the main couple has any sort of conflict whatsoever. Especially considering, for so long, I read romance novels to fill a void in my own, non-existent love life (I know, sad, but true), when the couple fought or reach that “threatening-conflict” stage, I always hated that part; because dammit, if my love life was going to suck, at least let me pretend to be in love with X dashing character without having that love threatened! So, naturally, when I started reading Breath of Fire, my stomach immediately twisted in knots and I was completely unprepared to go deal with that kind of conflict in the first chapter.

Just as I was equally unprepared to deal with what happened in chapters two and three.

Let’s just say that reading those (and other sections) while sitting at work was probably not the best move.

Flushed face. Accelerated breath. Chills everywhere. Amongst other things.

I’m sure you’re catching my drift, here. This is a romance, after all.

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Needless to say, I still continued to read it while at work, being turned on by Griffon be damned. I had a book to devour. Which I pretty much did, reading in 100+ page chunks. My favorite aspect of this series is that the balance between romance plot and fantasy plot is done well. I’m just as interested in the romance between Cat and Griffon (which evolves in this book in some fantastic ways, particularly when you look at that last chapter) as I am in figuring out Cat’s destiny and the power bid going on between Sinta and Fisa.

Though that balance and blend between both plots is probably my favorite aspect of the book, there are so many other aspects I adore, as well. Griffon. The incorporation of mythology. Griffon. The banter between everyone in Alpha Sinta. Griffon. The growing familiarity we get of Griffon’s family and Cat’s association (and role) with them. Griffon. The little bits of humor slipped in, especially in terms of word play or the style that the book was written. Griffon. The way that Cat overthinks like I do, making her so relatable.

Have I mentioned I also have a major crush on Griffon?

I will say that although I enjoyed this book thoroughly, I did find some moments a bit cheesy and sometimes, I thought the dialogue between Cat and Griffon to be a bit…much (then again, I’ve never had a man love me that much, so maybe I’m just inexperienced). But other than that, I really had no complaints and thought this was a strong follow up to an already really strong debut. I’m jazzed for the final book, Heart of Fire, to come out in January (which is, by the way, not soon enough, especially after that teaser provided in the back of the book) and I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking up Bouchet’s next series after this one. You should check these out. I bet you’ll enjoy them.

Read on!

Waiting on Wednesday: Strife’s Bane

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Strife’s Bane by Evie Manieri
Publication Date: November 28th, 2017

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Normally, I would provide the blurb that clues in the details of the book’s plot and talk about all the amazing aspects that are clued in from said blurb. But, time for a confession: I have actually only read the first book in The Shattered Kingdoms series, Blood’s Price. I haven’t actually read Fortune’s Blight yet. I even own it, ironically enough. So I’m avoiding providing a blurb here, let alone reading it, for Strife’s Bane, third book in the series, because, you know, spoilers.

I will say this: I absolutely loved the first book. It’s stuck with me since I read it, which feels like ages ago (which, in reality, it was). Manieri quickly climbed as one of my favorite authors of all time, even after only reading one book. Hell, I loved it so much that when Fortune’s Blight came out, I splurged and immediately bought it. Of course, life got in the way and I haven’t read it yet, but every time I see it on my bookshelf, I’m always wondering why I haven’t continued a series that captivated me so utterly and left my speechless after finishing book one.

So it may be weird for me, this week, to choose a book to be stoked about when I haven’t even finished the other books ahead of it. But now that I’ve realized this book comes out this year, I have a little extra incentive to not only read Fortune’s Blight, but reread Blood’s Price, as well.

Because who doesn’t want to reread an awesome story every once in a while?

Read on!

Dark Immolation

This book.

This freakin‘ book.

If you read my review of Duskfall, you’d know I was a pretty big fan of that debut and its author, Christopher Husberg. I don’t just call any book the best new book I read in 2016, yet Duskfall was, hands down, certainly that.

Since reading it, I’ve have been eager to see what would happen next. Eager to get my hands on the sequel, to see if Husberg would continue the trend of writing characters that pull my emotions in a thousand different directions at once; creating situations and twists that boggle my mind and leave me whispering profanities at an alarming rate as I struggle to turn the pages fast enough; weave a world so intricate and beautiful and terrifying that I’m just stunned with awe and wonder; and leave me with an ending that makes me so desperate for more, I’d actually consider striking a deal with Azael just to get a glimpse of what happens next in Blood Requiem. 

Friends.

I was so not disappointed.

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I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess, I could start, with the beginning: the way the book started was…brilliant. It was intriguing, it was different and I suddenly found myself feeling two very conflicting emotions at once: curiosity at the new developments we’re immediately thrown into and yet a feeling of…home. A feeling I’ve missed since I last journeyed with these characters. Yet the more pages I read, the more at home I felt.

You know, if that home was on fire and you were just sitting in the middle of it, thinking it can’t get worse because you’ve already lost the kitchen, the basement and the dining room, but then you turn around and suddenly the entire second floor has collapsed as well, yet you don’t move because you still believe the flames will cease and things can’t get worse. Cue repeating until your entire home is nothing but ash.

Because shit goes down in this book.

Amazing shit. Crazy shit. Baffling shit. Jaw-dropping shit. Just a ton of epic and awesome shit.

And I have a distinct feeling that Husberg is just getting started.

I read this book in 100-page chunks because anything less than that would just not be enough. Even now, after reading all 500+ pages, I’m left feeling unsatisfied. That feeling, however, is not to say that this book wasn’t amazing and I didn’t completely enjoy what happened within it–because that’s totally the case. Dark Immolation is a fantastic sequel that not only delivers on all the epicness we came to expect from Husberg after reading Duskfall, but it continued to elevate and evolve those expectations. As the series continues, I have no doubt in my mind that Husberg will continue to deliver. No, I’m unsatisfied because I’m selfish and impatient and I just want to know the result of SPOILER SPOILER and figure out what happens to SPOILER SPOILER now, instead of waiting until June 2018.

You know. A year from now.

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Regardless of those selfish desires, I loved Dark Immolation. I loved falling right back into the world that captivated me so utterly last year. I loved how the story was constantly complicated by new conflicts and characters that heightened the narrative and forced me to keep reading well past the time I allotted for myself to do so. The plot thickens and continues to mold into something truly fantastic and I am so glad I stumbled upon this series and this author. Apologies, friends, if I continue to nag you about reading it like I have since reading Duskfall. 

But just trust me: in a series filled with political upheavals, religious revivals, charismatic and complicated characters, a healthy mix of humor with an enjoyable amount of darkness and enough twists and turns that you’re gonna wish you had a road-map and taken notes along the way…can you seriously tell me you want to purposefully choose to miss out on this adventure?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Read on!

PS: Also, after reading this book, I am suddenly very intrigued that both Duskfall and Dark Immolation are part of a quintet titled The Chaos Queen. *instantly vanishes to muse over potential meanings*

Waiting on Wednesday: The Iron Hound

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Tim Akers’ The Iron Hound.
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017 by Titan

MAD GODS WALK THE LAND

Tensions flare between north and south, and hatreds erupt into war. Yet the conflicts of men are quickly overshadowed by a far greater threat. Creatures long kept confined rise from below, spreading destruction on an unimaginable scale.
The flames of war are fanned by the Celestial Church, whose inquisitors and holy knights seek to destroy the pagans wherever they are found. A secret cabal creates unexpected allies, and pursues its own dark agenda…

While Malcolm Blakley seeks to end the war before all of Tenumbra is consumed, his son Ian searches for the huntress Gwendolyn Adair, and finds himself shadowed by the totem of his family, the Iron Hound. Gwen herself becomes allied with the pagans, and wrestles with the effect of having been bound to a god.

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I’m really excited to read this book. If you read my review of the first in the series, The Pagan Night, you’d know I have some opinions regarding not only the characters, but the situations they find themselves in. It was such a compelling read. And the way that book ended, I’ve been pretty anxious to find out what happens next and to see if my allegiances that I swore to at the end still hold true. Based off the teasing description above, I know readers will be in for a fantastic adventure and I, personally, am ready to start it.

Read on!

The Bloodsworn

**Copy of The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey graciously given by Literary Agent Lisa Rodgers in exchange for an honest review**

“Not for you.” 

*commence endless screaming*

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I realize you have no idea regarding the significance of that line, thrown in out of context like that. But oh is there significance and feels attached to it, as there are many, many feelings attached to this entire book, not to mention the whole series. So I’m just being cruel and teasing you. Trust me, you wanna find out why that line makes you want to fist-pump the air into oblivion (but you can’t because you work in a public library, so you satisfy yourself by whispering, Fuck yes” instead).

If you’ve read either of my reviews of the previous two books (The Bloodbound and The Bloodforged), you know I have some opinions (<– understatement of the year).

The first in the trilogy, The Bloodbound, gave me a feeling of nostalgia and home I haven’t felt in ages, as I returned to a story focused in a realm and time of knights; a time period that I adore and is so close to my heart, as it was these types of stories that fueled me during my youth. There, I met Alix Black, who inspired me and encouraged me in a time where I desperately needed both of those things. By the end, I wanted to be a little more like her.

Hell, I still do.

In The Bloodforged, I couldn’t even properly describe how many emotions I experienced, so I forced to try and express myself through a lot of nerdy GIFs. It has been a while since I read a book where I kept telling myself, “There is no way this can get any worse,” only to be proven wrong.

Over.
And over.
And over again.

It was, honestly, quite fantastic, even if the ending resulted in me abusing my paperback as I threw it harshly against the ground in protest. At such a plot twist, I was both wary and excited to read The Bloodsworn; excited because I had to know what happened next, yet wary because I had a sinking feeling that the events to come would make the events in The Bloodforged feel like child’s play.

And I was right.

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You know the advice writers get about being ruthless to their characters? How the best stories are formed by creating the worst possible conflict for your character to conquer? Yeah, Lindsey is obviously a master at this, because holy shit. Similar to book two, every time I dared to hope that the situation couldn’t get any worse, I was proven sorely wrong. More impressively, it wasn’t just one character going through some shit. It was multiple characters dealing with multiple problems, all of which were the most extreme circumstances where the worst possible thing that could happen usually did. But not only that, all of these situations affected and depended on the outcomes of the others. Oh, and with multi-POV, these events were revealed with expert pacing, so the tension continued to build and build until you finally reached that point where you had to know what happened to Alix, only to be shifted to Rig. Or Erik. Or Liam.

Rinse and repeat for 300+ pages.

Friends, this shit is gold.

Complete with twists and turns, political plots of epic expectations (and endings) and threads that were woven since book one and sewn together neatly (even if a little scarred with all the shit they were forced to go through) here in book three, The Bloodsworn was exactly what I wanted–and honestly, have come to expect–to end this fantastic trilogy. This entire series was such a refreshing and needed read. The characters are some I am not eager to leave behind and I’m so glad Lisa pointed this series my way. I have a feeling Lindsey will be an author I’ll be stalking admiring for a long time to come.

Oh, and as an author whose goal has been to write the perfect summer vacation novel, I’m pretty sure Lindsey’s already achieved that. I can’t wait to see what she comes up next.

Read on!

PS: I might have a crush on Rig. Maybe a really big one.

PPS: Can we get a spin-off story just on the adventures of Rudi? Talk about most underrated character.

The Bloodforged

**Copy of The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey graciously given by Literary Agent Lisa Rodgers in exchange for an honest review**

Last night, I was sitting in the living room while my friend was building a project for work. I had a little more than 100 pages of The Bloodforged left to devour and boy, did I devour them, to the amused concern of my friend. More than once, I made a frustrated grunt or whispered, “What the shit?” as page by page, my mind was blown, repaired and then blown again.

Here are some GIFs to properly showcase exactly what I went through finishing this book:

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This one.

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Or this one.

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Or this one.

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Yeah, this book puts you through some shit.

I won’t exactly describe what that shit is, because you need to read this book–and this series–for yourself. It seriously is fantastic. This series draws you in with the wonderful, inspiring and realistic characters in the first book, The Bloodbound, and then leaves you utterly speechless by the time you finish the second, leaving you desperate for the third (which, luckily for me, I already have and will be reading as soon as I get off work. Oh Lisa, do I owe you some chocolate).

Actually, the events in The Bloodbound were so gut-punchingly wowing that I literally threw the book to the ground, I was so pissed and awed. My friend, bless him, just snorted, not understanding the turmoil I just went through at the hands of a paperback (if you’re confused, please see GIFs above as reference). Oh boy, was I pissed.

Pissed, but also super impressed.

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This book made me feel a lot of things. Frustration and anger at some of the choices characters made, which in turn made me question how I felt about some of those characters (Alix, in particular, had me questioning, which was difficult, considering how much I admired her in the first book; difficult, but also great, because it just made her that much more real to me, that much more human and made me connect with her that much more). I experienced suppressed giggling (thanks, Liam). Empathy. Sorrow. And most of all, after taking a day to reflect on what just bloody happened, being completely, totally and utterly impressed.

With The Bloodforged, I think we got a wider view into the world Alix navigates. We got a few more perspectives we didn’t get previously, which made my liking for Rig turn into a fierce, protective love. We were introduced to new cultures and government structures that reflected just how complicated the war they are fighting truly is. I found myself having conflicting emotions about the characters involved, which adds a layer of depth I love to find in books.

But what impressed me the most was how this entire book continued to baffle me on how difficult every decision was; how felt the consequences were of every action, choice or hell, even inaction. Just when I was lured into a false comfort that aid for the war was coming or that Eric, Alix or Liam had made the right call, I’m thrown back into the fray of despair and questioning as something else gets thrown at them, making their already dark and hopeless situation even worse.

And then you introduce the twists in the last 100 pages…

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I wasn’t kidding. This book makes you feel some shit.

Now, I’m left as a really weird middle ground. I need to know what happens next. You can’t just drop Bombs A, B and f-ing C and not be aching for closure. Yet at the same time, if I thought shit was going down in this book, I feel like I’m not even remotely prepared for what I’ll have to go through in The Bloodsworn. And there is only one way to find out…

*stares at the clock on the wall waiting for the weekend to start and the epic conclusion to begin*

Read on!

The Bloodbound

**Copy of The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey given by Literary Agent Lisa Rodgers in exchange for an honest review**

Sometimes, the best books you don’t discover. Instead, they find you.

Like The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey, for instance. I had no idea this book existed. It had never slipped onto my radar and I had no idea the author existed. I might have never discovered it, if I hadn’t happened to be introduced to Lisa at WorldCon last year and the topic of my book review blog hadn’t been brought up. A few months later, a box of Jabberwocky goodies arrived at my door, courtesy of Lisa. Amongst them was The Bloodbound. It took me a while to actually get to reading this book (and considering Lisa’s kindness, I really should have read this sooner), but perhaps I was meant to read this book at this moment. Because wow, did I need to read this book right now.

I am so thankful for it.

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When I started reading The Bloodbound, it immediately felt like coming home. I’m not exactly sure how this is, considering this book was literally dropped in my lap as a surprise. Perhaps it was because I haven’t read something with a historical feel in quite some time, even though stories about knights were my bread and butter growing up. Perhaps it was because I’ve always been a sucker for writers who give attention to the details and aren’t afraid of the gruesome ones–and The Bloodbound was filled with both. Perhaps it was because there was a complicated love triangle that mirrored ever so slightly to what I am dealing with currently in my life, so I was desperate for any sort of guidance of what I should do or solace that love would win out in the end. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things.

Or perhaps it was simply because of Alix Black.

Our heroine, a lady and scout who moves up the ranks in surprising ways, I immediately latched onto Alix’s strength. Mostly because I wasn’t shown only her prowess in battle, her resistance against gender limitations, her fierce tongue or how she carried on and made tough choices despite what she struggled with personally. I also saw her vulnerability. Her nervousness, her doubting her own skills and decisions, her mistakes, risking her heart and being confused. In her, I saw pieces of myself and admired pieces that I’m lacking, yet Alix exemplifies, to the point where it emboldens me to want to emulate her a little bit more; be a little braver, take a few more risks, have confidence in my voice and trust my heart. Alix was so much more than just a simple character in a story that you read and enjoy, then promptly forget about.

To me, Alix was real. And she’s bloody inspiring.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book thoroughly and devoured it. Especially once I reached the end. I’d be lying if I said I had to make a microwavable meal for dinner the night I finished the book, as it distracted me from reality so well that I missed my eating window before work and had to scramble to get something into my stomach. It was beautifully written, the characters are fantastically complex and realistically three-dimensional, and the warfare and political schemes were a delight to get lost in.

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I’m pretty sure that Lisa, the kind aforementioned literary agent who sent me a copy of book, knew that I would fall so hard for Alix and the world she lives in and is trying to save…as she also sent me copies of books two and three in the trilogy. *bows down in gratitude* She might not have known how much I needed this book when I finally found time to read it, but I am seriously thankful for it and the courage–and hope–I found reading it.

Read on!

PS: I also included both versions of the cover, because holy goodness, they are both so gorgeous.