Book Review | Rivers Ran Red

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Rivers Ran Red: The Last of the Romans Trilogy by J. A. Grierson

Published November 1, 2019

Ebook 328 pages

4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an open and honest review

Can J. A. Grierson write all the History books from now on please?

The Story

An extremely well written and well researched historical fiction based on the events surrounding the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains and the Roman’s defeat of Attila the Hun.

(Goodreads synopsis):

“In a whirlwind of fire and carnage, Attila the Hun wheels half a million horsemen towards Roman territory. In his path, corruption and greed have undermined the ancient empire and the vacillating emperor, Valentinian III, has cut her legions to a sliver. But out of this smoke a wily, battle-scarred general, Avitus, rises in her defence. Making allies of his enemies, Avitus rallies barbarian warlords to fight for the Eagle and crosses the Alps to face Rome’s nemesis. But when Attila offers to split the Empire’s corpse with the Goths his march becomes a suicide mission.

One war will decide the fate of civilization.

The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains rages through the night. Individual acts of bravery and cowardice tip the final balance. Rivers run red and burst their banks with blood. Dawn draws a portrait of unimaginable carnage.

In a tale of epic deeds, heroes confront insurmountable odds, with honour and courage. Avitus faces a myriad of enemies, both Roman and barbarian but can one man save civilisation?

What I liked

Wow!

Just, wow. I could NOT put this book down. I am by all accounts a fantasy reader only. Sometimes when I am in a reading slump, I will pick up other genres … but typically it’s all fantasy, all the time. This reads like an epic fantasy. Extremely enjoyable, extremely bloody and entirely real. I was connected to all of the characters, their lives, their history and their events. I cried when they died, I cheered when they were victorious. This book did more than just chronicle the history of these individuals … this book immersed me in the world of military power, political intrigue, love and life and death. This book is everything books should be.

The historical accounts were well researched and didn’t feel like History class … and the fictional elements were believable and complimentary to the history of that day and the characters who would have existed.

What I Did Not Like

The beginning of this book was plagued by pretty purple prose … but this daunting adjective stuffing fell out of Greirson’s writing around the second chapter (once the dialog started) and the book became much more enjoyable to read.

In Conclusion 

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good Roman history, and for fans of fantasy with epic battle scenes and political intrigue.

 

Book Review | Dark Skies

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Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Published May 5, 2020

4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an open and honest review

Another gorgeously written and beautifully told story by Danielle L. Jensen in this fantastical world. This book finds its voice through Lydia (who we met briefly in Dark Shores) and Killian (who you will not regret meeting in this book <3). If you enjoyed Dark Shores, you will adore the continuation of this story from this varying POV.

(Goodreads synopsis):

“A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

What I liked

Speaking of POV, I really enjoyed how Jensen chose to tell this story. Instead of cramming all POVs into one novel, she chose to alternate between the novels themselves. I mentioned her being a “smart” writer in my review of Dark Shores, and I feel this is further evidence to that statement. I was allowed to immerse myself into a singular storyline for the length of each novel. And Storyline it is! Wow! So much action and angst and all the romance-y drama you could possibly want! Not to even mention how masterful Jensen is at spinning a twisty tale of intrigue. Once again, I had no idea what to expect, and poor Danielle had to endure me messaging her on IG to scream about the turns I did NOT SEE COMING!

Jensen has officially secured me as a fan … I will be pre-ordering the next book in this series, Gilded Serpent as soon as it is available (scheduled to release March 23, 2021). I even went out and purchased the first two books in her The Bridge Kingdom series because I cannot get enough of her writing, worlds, romance and political intrigue!

What I Did Not Like

This book was not my favorite of the two books so far … which is not to say that it wasn’t still and incredibly enjoyable adventure. This book had a bit of a lag in the middle that the first book didn’t have, and I just found myself connecting to it a little less. However, this is still an incredible read and I cannot wait for the rest of the series!

In Conclusion 

This series is fast paced and enjoyable. I would recommend it to everyone.

 

Book Review | Everything We Left Unsaid

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Everything We Left Unsaid (Wild Hearts #2) by Ashley Cade

Published April 1st, 2020

2.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an open and honest review

The Story

A conclusion to Jacob and Abby’s story …

(Goodreads synopsis):

Secrets…Lies…and Betrayal.
It’s been far too long since I’ve laid eyes on Abby.
I expected surprise.
I expected anger.
What I got was devastation.

Abby’s been lying to me, keeping secrets that affect us all.

Our past…? It’s complicated
An elusive truth with the power to alter everything I know, everything I want, and everything I love.
But things aren’t always what they seem.
And betrayal…it never comes from the person you expect.

What I liked

This is really just your basic ending to a basic romance … not sure what else can really be said here. Nothing earth shifting to mention and plays out as you would pretty much expect given the cliffhanger ending in Something That Could Last. I mean … it was fine I guess. I know that’s not exactly a resounding review *shrug*.

What I Did Not Like

Look, I thought the strife slammed into the last 50 pages of Something That Could Last was ridiculous. So many easy solutions. And so, with this book having to conclude on the last minute drama of that storyline (that I already did not find believable or necessary) … this became just more of the same. Unnecessary drama for the sake of having drama … since nothing really happened AT ALL in the first book. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have high hopes for their relationship given their lack of communication, that’s for sure!

In Conclusion 

Meh.

 

Book Review | Dark Shores

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Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Hardcover, 368 pages

Published May 7th 2019

5/5 stars

This book though!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Which is to say … I enjoyed this read immensely so. In fact, I immediately purchased a hardback copy of this book and the soon to release Dark Skies upon finishing. It’s that good.

The Story

I will only tell you that this story is not the one about pirates that perhaps you think it is … but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant and enjoyable!

(Goodreads synopsis):

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

What I liked

The writing is extremely smart. I never knew where it was going, but it all made perfect sense along the way. The politics play such an important role in this world and are extremely intricate. The story-line is detailed, easy to follow and gloriously twisty. The romance is believable and beautiful … omg my heart!!! The characters are flawed and complex, with backstories and beliefs that are interwoven throughout to make everyone feel very “real”. The magic system was easy to understand (and gets explained more in book 2). I loved it all!

In Conclusion 

This book was a delight from the very moment I picked it up. I recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a fast paced, fun read and world!

 

Book Review | Nevernight

26114463Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

 

Hardcover, 429 pages
Published August, 9 2016

5/5 stars

Brilliant, dear reader. This book is absolutely brilliant.

You know when there are books that are just … better. You don’t know exactly what the difference is between one book and another, but you know that this one is … more. It’s deeper, more polished. In a pocket of coppers and irons … it is gold. Nevernight is that book.

The Story

Mia has been training for vengeance her whole life. After her father’s failed rebellion, everything was taken from her. She swears to take it all … and more … back by entering a league of assassins and becoming one of them.

(Goodreads synopsis):

“In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

What I liked

Piss and blood and gore and rebellion and history and pain and suffering and loss and friendship and love and relationships and life and death and betrayal and hurt and failure and triumph and faith and confusion and … and … and …

Everything.

And while we’re at it, I should ask … why are the best books the hardest to review?

There is nothing I did not absolutely love about this story, about this world, about the characters, about the narration … I loved it all. This book immersed me into the world. This book made me fall in love. This book made me cry, made me hate, made me scream. This book made me laugh, made me smile. And when a book can do all of that … the specifics don’t even really matter. Or rather, me listing the specifics doesn’t matter. Because you shouldn’t even be sitting here reading this review … you should be out there reading this book!

In Conclusion 

If you do not read this book, you have done yourself quite the disservice. Period.

 

Book Review | Like the First Moon Landing

Like the First Moon LandingLike the First Moon Landing by Matthew J. Metzger

EBook

Published Apil 13, 2020

4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

Such a beautiful LGBTQ story about identity, relationships, acceptance, struggle, questioning, confusion … all of those terrible things we all deal with, but even more so as an individual who doesn’t feel like the labels of the world quite fit who they are … and does it even really matter? Does a label matter? Should it?

Beautifully written and beautifully emotional. It reads more like a story of self and relationships, placed against the background of space and suspense, than a true sci-fi fantasy adventure.

(Goodreads synopsis):

“Stranded and injured in deep space, Maggie McLean has one chance at survival–the ship drifting off her starboard side, refusing to answer her distress calls. The ship the whole universe has been looking for.

Maggie most of all.

The Swift vanished without so much as a cry for help. There have been endless conspiracy theories, from aliens to government corruption to wormholes leading to other dimensions, but one thing was certain. She was gone, with all two hundred and thirty-six crew members on board. Including Maggie’s wife.

Maggie’s going to figure out what happened come hell or high water—but she might not like what she finds.

What I liked

I flew through this book in the series of a few hours time … and it felt like minutes. This book captured my attention from page one and never let me go.

The story was a beautiful representation. A story for anyone struggling with identity … especially those struggling with gender identity. It brings to light the various labels we find throughout the community and asks the question … are labels truly necessary? Or is it enough to just be “you” and loved for “you”? This story also brings up relationships – why we hold on to them, and when it is better that we let them go. As a whole, this is a story that makes you question and makes you think … and this world needs books that force us to do just that.

If we’re being honest, not a lot really happened, but the suspense that Metzger was able to paint across the entire setting was brilliantly done. Even with little action taking place, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and consistently engaged.

And the writing … absolute perfection.

What I did not like

I wasn’t completely hooked on the relationship between our two characters as I felt like I could have been. That being said, it quickly grew into something that felt very honest.

In Conclusion 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was very excited to find that Metzger has plans for a second book in this series. I went into this book thinking it was going to be a stand-alone, of which it is not. Thank goodness … because when I read the final sentence of this book I audibly shouted “What? You can’t end it there!”

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who enjoy reading about the internal struggles of ones self.

 

Book Review | Until All Curses Are Lifted

49898821. sx318 sy475 Until All Curses Are Lifted by Tim Frankovich

 

Kindle Edition, 438 pages
Published August, 13 2019

2.5/5 stars

This book is a glorious winged beast leaping from the nest before it is quite ready to fly.

In short … underdeveloped.

This story was every bit of promising, every element that makes up an incredible story was present … almost. Where this book fell short was in the writing. I honestly fell like this is a problem with not enough revisions, not enough editing, and not enough people being critical with their reviews. Which is actually quite tragic … because this story, this world, these characters … are all incredible. Not to mention a unique magic system which is hard to come by in this day and age.

The Story

You have Marshal and you have Seri. Basic chosen one scenario on both ends. Mashal is cursed through no fault of his own and has a back-story that I’m sure we can all pretty early on guesstimate. Seri wants to be a mage … the first female mage … the first female master mage … but we don’t every really get much about her as to why … or as to why she was chosen as an acolyte. All of these things are just expecting the reader to accept and move on … which I do not like. But we will begin with some positives.

(Goodreads synopsis):

“The laws are enforced by magic.
If you break the law, you’re cursed.
But the rich and powerful twisted the laws to allow for… exceptions.

Marshal has been cursed since birth for his unknown father’s crimes. When he discovers he’s also heir to immense magical power, he must flee for his life. His half-brother wants the power for himself and has hired an assassin to pursue Marshal and his mother. No one has ever escaped from a curse, but it’s the only way for Marshal to be truly safe.

Seri wants to become the most powerful mage in history. But the magic that holds the world together is failing and no one knows why. While the ground itself shakes, someone begins murdering mages. In danger from all directions, Seri must learn how to use her unique abilities before everything falls apart.

Neither of them know they are being watched from another realm…

What I liked

Unique, whimsical, intriguing.

I enjoyed reading this book, although I had to turn off the critical reader parts of myself in order to do so. Surface level, this is a wonderful story. Extremely enjoyable even with all of it’s flaws. I cared about the characters … even though I felt like their stories were underdeveloped. I enjoyed this world, even though it lacked spacial descriptions to set the atmosphere.

I will say that the one thing that was not lacking was the magic system. Extremely unique and very well explained. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the story.

What I did not like

As I mentioned, this book lacked something in almost every aspect of the writing. It was doomed to be always “almost”. The dialog was not great, with much of it being unnecessary and even cringe-worth at times. The characters could have been pushed a little more, especially supporting characters, all of which fell extremely flat. Because the secondary and supporting characters were underdeveloped, the relationships between the characters felt flat as well.

I think Marshall’s side of the story was a little more successful over-all. Seri’s story had a lot of plot holes that, again, I feel could have benefited from letting this whimsical story marinate a while longer before publishing.

In Conclusion 

I enjoyed the world and the story, but I am saddened by the potential this book had and did not achieve.