Heart on Fire

The Nitty-Gritty Details 

Title: Heart on Fire
Author: Amanda Bouchet
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jan. 2018
Blurb: With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin’s role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step–reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.

The Experience

So, if you’ve read my reviews over either of the first two books in the series, you know I was itching to read the conclusion to this trilogy. As a whole, this trilogy is probably one of my favorites–if not the favorite–romance trilogy I’ve ever read. Not that I’m super well versed in the genre, but it was so refreshing to read a romance where the main plot was just an engaging as the romantic plot.

Which is good, because in Heart on Fire?

Friends, shit goes down. 

Heart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #3)I can’t lie and say that, at least once, I didn’t flip forward a couple chapters and try to read ahead to make sure X didn’t happen and Y did happen, before I forced myself to stop being an idiot and go back and continue reading the actual book. I got so, so, so invested in the war at Cat and Griffin were fighting. It was hard to put the book down, especially as everything comes into place together.

I had three favorite elements, I think, that really stood out.

One: The Continued Cleverness

Something I’ve loved about these books has been the interweaving of Greek Mythology. It is just so cleverly done and this book definitely amps that mythology and its influence up to the point where I just wanted to sit back and applaud (at one point, I think I actual did). Seriously, it made me want to go back and relearn some of that lore, because I felt like there were definitely some really killer references I should have caught, but didn’t, alongside all the ones I did.

Two: Cat Herself

The thing I love about Cat the most, I think, is how much her brain thinks exactly like mine. While at times I was frustrated to read about her going back and doubting herself yet again, it was such a reflection on how my own brain thinks, it’s almost scary. Granted, the stakes I’m dealing with are nowhere near the choices she has to make and things she has to do, but to see my own thought processes and mental struggles reflected and told so well through a character who I admire and see strength within…well, it might be the wake up call I’m looking for to see the same level of admiration and strength within myself.

Three: Griffin

But mostly how Griffin turns me on, utterly and almost effortlessly.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Griffin as a character and the way he evolves and grows in this book might be the most in the entire series. That shouldn’t be understated or underappreciated, even though I’m doing both of those things right now to discuss how ridiculously attracted I am to a fictional book character. But, there were just a couple of scenes that made me question how wise it was to read this book during my dinner breaks at work.

Because, reasons.

This book was a wonderful conclusion to a really fantastic series that opened my eyes to how the genres of romance and fantasy can not only blend, but blend well. And when that happens, wonderful things happen. I’m stoked for Bouchet’s sci-fi trilogy that’s coming out next May, I believe. If it’s anything like what she delivered with Cat and Griffin’s story, I know it’s going to be amazing and it can’t come soon enough.

Read on!


Something Beautiful

This book was a whirlwind, for me, so I apologize if this review is a bit all over the place.

Let me start off with a story.

This book, Something Beautiful, was written by one of my awesome Twitter friends, Amanda Gernentz Hanson. We’ve been friends since before this book was published and out in the world. It’s been amazing to support her and be supported by her, in our writing journeys; amazing to watch her own journey flourish and grow, from writer to published author. When her book finally came out in the world, she was kind enough to surprise me with a personalized copy (and with a shout-out in the acknowledgements section, you sweetheart <3). Of course, life got in the way and I had a couple other books I was dying to read, so I didn’t start reading it until a couple days ago.

When I read the back cover, I was terrified I wasn’t going to like it.

You see, I had no idea what this book was about, beforehand. I supported Amanda unconditionally, but it wasn’t until I read the back cover that I realized I actually did not know too much about her debut novel (so yeah, maybe not the best support system, to be honest). I saw it was a contemporary romance. If you know me at all, fantasy and science fiction are my jam. I enjoy romance, but I devour regency paperbacks or steampunk picks.

I actually really don’t like reading contemporary books. Nothing against the genre or anything of that nature, it’s just not really my thing.

But this was my friend’s book we’re talking about. I wanted to give it a shot.

So I did.

And then the whirlwind started.


Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan. Mostly because it’s really not my genre (um, where are the dragons?) and I kept getting irritated with Cordelia and Declan’s fascination with each other, to be honest. I wanted to wrap my arms around Cordelia and tell her: “You know, honey, there is more to life than him, right?” I actually felt like parts were a bit melodramatic and I was dreading the review. How do I write a negative, honest review about a good friend’s book?

But then I got to the second half.

Which I read in one sitting. I can’t tell you too much about it, because I don’t want to give away what happens, so my apologies that this is vague and tells you nothing.

It’s when I got to the end and finished it that I really began to think about what I read, especially thinking about the contrast I felt between the first half the book and the second; when Cordelia and Declan were growing up and then in high school, juxtaposed to when they were in college and beyond. I realized something.

Amanda is a very talented writer.

Granted, her strength as a writer was evident already. That was never a question for me. It’s what she did with this book that impressed me.

You see, it wasn’t until I started thinking about the first half the book, trying to figure out why I didn’t like it, that I realized how real it truly is. When I got annoyed or irritated with Cordelia and how she was acting, it wasn’t until I thought about my own actions in high school that I saw reflections of myself in her. It wasn’t until I thought about how I treated some of my old crushes or my man currently, that I began to understand what she was feeling about Declan. It wasn’t until I remembered my own melodramas that I’ve lived through–hell, isn’t that what high school is, most of the time?!–before I really comprehended hers.

Sure, a lot of the things Cordelia dealt with, I don’t have much experience with, being straight. My own experiences with anxiety and depression never reached the levels that hers did, though I’ve been close to those individuals who have. So this book was a complex blend of elements I recognized, though it took some reflection to realize the reality of them, and things I had no idea at all about, which helped me open my mind a little bit more.

And that was really neat.

It’s a book that’s not normally my cup of tea, but I’m really glad that I read it. I am really impressed with the way that Amanda wrote a story that made me feel, made me question and made me reflect–hard–to figure out what I felt by the end of it. That is, hands down, the most impressive part about this story. If you are a fan of this genre, I definitely recommend you check this out.

Amanda, I’m so excited for you and that you have your book out in the world. I may not always be the ideal reader for the stories you were born to tell, but I’m so proud of you for telling them. And you know I’ll keep reading them and supporting you, always. 🙂

Read on!

Waiting on Wednesday: Heart on Fire


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: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Publication Date: January 2018 Piatkus

Who is Catalia Fisa?

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin’s role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step–reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.


So, I just finished the second book in this trilogy last week and let me tell you, I’m ready to read the third one, especially after looking at that blurb above. It hints at all of the questions I’m ready to have answered. I’m also excited to see Cat finally accept not only her destiny, but the truth of her character. It’s been a long journey for her and she deserves that kind of peace and understanding about herself.

I’m also totally jazzed to watch an Andromeda-Catalia battle.

Also, the covers on all of the books are absolutely stunning, but I love the color scheme that goes with Heart on Fire. It’s gorgeous.

Read on!

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.


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!

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*

 harry potter panic dont panic potter puppet pals GIF

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.

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.


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 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.


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.


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.

A Promise of Fire

So on a scale of having your liver repeatedly ripped out by an eagle for all eternity to being the ruler of Mount Olympus, reading this book surpassed even the mighty, lightning-wielding Zeus. This book was freakin’ awesome.

*Minor spoilers abound after this point*

It was particularly awesome because I had absolutely no idea what it was about when I first decided I wanted to read it, which meant I was so utterly surprised, multiple times, as I read it. I’m not sure who shared it or what, but I was just perusing through Twitter one afternoon and I saw the cover. That’s it. I didn’t read whatever the person wrote about it and didn’t know if it was a new release (hint: it sorta is). I just saw the cover. It had a woman who looked like a major BAMF (and I am always drawn to major BAMF-ing females) and it mentioned fire.

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1)
I mean honestly, how can you not pick up this book because of this cover alone!?

I didn’t need anything else.

So I put the book on hold and got it from the library a few weeks later. Never once did I even look at the back and see anything about what this book was about. I just dove right in. And I think that made it just 20 times more epic that it naturally already was. I was thrown into a world that I wasn’t prepared for: a world where magic is both common and feared; a world dripping with familiar mythology–that was also made new–that seriously skyrocketed my excitement levels; a world where I related to the characters, became so attached their humor and got so invested in what was going to happen next.

And then I think I discovered my greatest surprise, diving in with complete ignorance: it’s a romance. A gloriously steamy, tempting, dangerous-level-swoon-worthy romance (hint: do not read the last 60 pages whilst waiting for your car to get repaired. I repeat: DO NOT). Also, I know what you’re thinking: Nicole, the blurb on the cover even says, “fantasy romance at its finest,” but I didn’t even read that. I was so blind. Oh so totally blind.

Cat, our brilliant heroine rocking the front cover, was someone who I empathize with and also someone I wanted to throw against a wall and shake some sense into her. If Griffon was making those sort of advances on me…*fans self* Granted, I understood her rationale, but still, if you aren’t interested, dearie, please move along, because some of us have been waiting patiently over here!


Anyway, romantic feelings over a fictional character aside, I love romance novels. I love being able to pretend to have a love life by living vicariously through these characters (which also explains why I got so angry with Cat because she has what I want). Yet I’ve read very few romance novels or authors where I become as equally interested in other aspects of the books (political schemes, for example) as I do waiting for the next steamy scene to make my breath catch. Bec McMaster is one author who comes to mind where I’m equally invested in all aspects that make up her steampunk London.

And it would appear that Amanda Bouchet is now another.

I loved the magic involved. I am so invested in all of the characters, both from the circus and from Griffon’s group and his family. I loved the Greek mythology. Ohmygosh, did I love it. I loved Cat’s spunk and her attitude and her abilities and how she struggled against becoming “one of the guys,” so to speak, and loved it as she finally embraced it. I was just as concerned with Cat fitting in with the royal family and the drama with the healing centers as I was enthralled at every passionate kiss Cat and Griffon experienced. I never skimmed through the sections that weren’t steamy, like I’ve done with a few regency romances in my day (sorry about that…).

My only complaint falls in line with the ending–and it’s probably because I thought the book was longer than it actually was, as it included that first chapter from the next book, thus tricking me into a false comfort of more pages, more action, more answers and instead I turn the page, see that it is about to end, say, “What the fmfsnsinf,” aloud in front of two old ladies who are also reading beside me in the waiting room at the car dealership and am forced to meet their glares as I interrupted their own bliss. I properly blushed, sunk further into my chair and then finished reading the last page, stewing in anger silently that it was over and I have to wait until January to read the next installment. It was not okay to end it there. I have questions.

*slips back into a stew of anger while staring at her calendar, waiting for the New Year to roll around…slowly…ever slowly…*

Read on!