Review: Court of Blood and Bindings by Lisette Marshall


Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Title: Court of Blood and Bindings
Author: Lisette Marshall
Series: Fae Isles #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 436 pages
Publisher: independent
Release Date: June 22, 2022
Source: Paper Myths book tour
Recommended for fans of: ACOTAR, Caraval
Content Warnings: violence, torture, emotional and physical abuse, reference to child abuse


They call him the Silent Death, because he kills without sound and leaves none capable of speaking in his wake…

When the empire’s deadliest fae murderer catches her wielding forbidden magic, twenty-year-old Emelin believes her hour has come. Instead, her inhumanly beautiful captor spares her life, but carries her off on his velvet wings – into the one place from which no human ever returns.

The heart of the Fae Isles. The treacherous Crimson Court, where the Mother of faekind has ruled unchallenged over fae and humans for decades.

The Silent Death is supposed to be the Mother’s loyal servant, her invincible warrior, her ruthless, soulless killer. But in the shadows he is playing a game of his own, and he needs Emelin’s magic to win it.

If she agrees to work with him, she could free all of humanity. But can she trust a fae male with so much blood on his hands? Worse, when his smouldering dark eyes and dangerous secrets reveal glimpses of the heart behind his murderer’s mask… can she trust herself?

Court of Blood and Bindings is the first book of the Fae Isles series, an enemies to lovers fantasy romance featuring a strong-willed heroine and a broody, morally grey hero. This adult fae romance is perfect for readers of Sarah J. Maas, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Raven Kennedy.

Note: Court of Blood and Bindings contains a generous dose of smouldering glances, angry yearning, and midnight meetings of the illicit type, as well as other mature themes.


What an unexpected delight! On the surface this book seems like an ACOTAR copycat, but it was such a fun story with lovable characters, whimsical worldbuilding, and a color-based magic system that was so unique yet very simple to understand.

I adored the enemies to reluctant allies to lovers slow burn. Emelin is a bold and sassy humna who refuses to bend to the mercy of the more powerful fae. Creon, know as the Silent Death for his dark reputation and for his magical inability to speak, is the kind brooding and misunderstood male I love. Emelin and Creon had a great dynamic as they challenged and helped each other practice magic and sign language, giving Beauty and the Beast vibes. So many sweet, soft scenes eventually led to two spicy encounters.

There were a few slow parts to the book, but they only stood out because the rest was so fast-paced. The ending truly got my heart racing, and I am so excited to see where the series goes in the next book!

Review: Nightwing by Renee Dugan


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Nightwing
Author: Renee Dugan
Series: The Starchaser Saga #3
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Format: ebook
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: independent
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Recommended for fans of: An Ember in the Ashes, The Saltwater Heir
Content Warnings: torture, violence, animal death, rape, sexual assault, alcoholism, child abuse


Princess Cistine Novacek is a prisoner of Valgard.

Facing unbearable grief and the revelation of her own formidable power, Cistine battles her captor’s cruel games in a fight to escape. Her only hope for survival lies in her own cunning, a surly guard, an imprisoned beast with his own reasons for seeking freedom, and an unexpected ally who will risk everything to bring her home.

Tatiana and Quill are on the hunt. Far from the familiar, they search the shadowy corners of Valgard for their lost princess. But to rescue Cistine, they may be forced to pay a higher cost than either of them bargained for—a choice that unearths an old darkness lurking at the door of their kingdom, waiting to be let inside.

Banished for betrayal, Asheila Kovar hatches a daring plan to find the princess she’s sworn to protect. But a pair of unlikely companions will guide her on a journey she never expected, with enemies she never foresaw and revelations that will change her understanding of Talheim’s past – and the course of all their futures.

Lines must be crossed. Lives must be given. Answers must be unveiled. And in order to thwart a tyrant’s madness, sacrifices are demanded of the cabal…a price that will alter the fate of the Three Kingdoms forever.


Nightwing has a much faster pace than the previous books in the series, although the romance continues to burn slowly. With the increased action, the story also gets darker and heavier as the villain and his abusive, torturous ways become more central to the story. This book is such an emotional whirlwind of excitement, heartbreak, hope, and despair.

The standout of this series continues to be the characters and their growth. I of course love Cistine’s continued character growth, but I was also blow away by Ashe’s journey in this book. And Tatiana and Quill! The cabal has my whole heart and I just want them to be safe and happy!

…but there are too many books left in this series for a happy ending just yet. THIS ENDING BROKE ME. WHY???? But even though it made me upset and a little angry, I need to know what new dangers the cabal will face in book 4.

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Saga #1
Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length: 16 hours, 12 minutes (382 pages)
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Source: audiobook from library, hardcover in personal collection
Recommended for fans of: The Hunger Games
Content Warnings: graphic violence, death, murder, rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, cannibalism


“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.


What a stunning and masterful book. Red Rising is The Hunger Games on steroids, and I am here for it. While it is a futuristic science fiction book set on Mars, it is dystopian at its heart, exposing a society with a color-coded caste system, where Reds provide hard labor at the bottom while Golds dominate with virtually limitless wealth and power. Darrow, a Red driven by loss and revenge, has an opportunity to infiltrate the highest level of Golds, where he plans to bring their society down from the inside.

The story is brutal, disturbing, and graphically violent. I was horrified, yet fascinated by the Golds’ depravity behind their veneer of honor and decorum. I loved the ancient Roman influence on the society, from the characters’ names to the clans based on the gods and goddesses of mythology to Coliseum-inspired war games to the reigning philosophies and ideologies.

The characters are amazing. I couldn’t help but root for Darrow’s cause, and I feel his confusion and conflict over allying with and even befriending members of the very group he plans to destroy. The villains are truly heinous. And I very much appreciate the tiny crumb of romance.

The ending was great, emotional and thrilling in a world where rules no longer apply, and the last line made my jaw drop. I am scared but excited to read the next book. I didn’t know I had a dystopian void in my heart, but Red Rising filled it.

ARC Review: Ledge by Stacey McEwan


Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Ledge
Author: Stacey McEwan
Series: The Glacian Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Recommended for fans of: survival fantasy
Content Warnings: gratuitous violence & death; death of a minor; suicide; attempted sexual assault


After being randomly selected as a human sacrifice, instead of death, Dawsyn finds herself on a quest to save her people from their icy prison…

In a place known as the Ledge, a civilization is trapped by a vast chasm and sheer mountain face. There is no way for anyone to escape the frozen wasteland without befalling a deathly drop. They know nothing of the outside world except that it is where the Glacians reside – mystical and vicious winged creatures who bring meagre rations in exchange for a periodic human sacrifice.

Dawsyn, ax wielder and only remaining member of her family, has so far avoided the annual culling, but her luck has run out. She is chosen and ripped from her icy home, the only world she knows. No one knows what will happen to her on the other side, least of all Dawsyn. Murdered? Enslaved? Worse?

Fortunately, a half-Glacian called Ryon offers to help them both escape, but how can she trust one of the very creatures that plagued her life? Dawsyn is a survivor, and she is not afraid to cut anyone down to live.

With a slow-burning romance, high stakes and even higher rewards, this richly created new fantasy series by popular TikToker Stacey McEwan will keep you gripped to the very end.


This book has such an original premise for an adult fantasy novel. Dawsyn is the sole surviving member of her family on the Ledge, an isolated settlement of humans confined on an inescapable icy mountain by Glacians. Axe-wielding Dawsyn is as harsh as her environment, but when she is chosen by the Glacians for whatever they do to humans, her survival skills are truly put to the test.

Ledge blends survival story and political fantasy, with a dash of dystopian and of course some romance. I am always a fan of enemies-to-lovers, reluctant allies, and forced proximity, but I expected a bit more from Dawsyn and Ryon’s romance. The pieces didn’t all quite connect for me the way they should have. I want more!

The story is fast-paced, full of action and reveals. The setting and characters were well developed (I really loved the side characters at the inn!). This book kept surprising me until the very end. I’m not sure what to do with that ending…HOLY CLIFFHANGER. I absolutely need to know how that gets resolved in book 2.

Review: The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young


Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: The Last Legacy
Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #3
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Length: 8 hrs 15 mins (322 pages)
Publisher: Wednesday Books; Macmillan Audio
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Library
Content Warnings: child abuse, violence, physical abuse, death of parent, torture, murder, injury


When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.


I’m so glad I took a chance on this book! I found the Fable duology to be somewhat underwhelming and not worth the hype, but I really enjoyed this spinoff more! There’s just something about Adrienne Young’s writing that keeps drawing me back.

This has a fairly typical YA premise: a young girl with big dreams and a sense of duty and purpose is sent off to live with influential, criminal relatives. Her naivety is exposed, but instead of being used, she becomes even more determined to prove herself, striking unconventional allies and hatching clever yet dangerous schemes.

I couldn’t help rooting for Bryn to reach her potential. Moral grayness abounds in this story, and of course I adored the forbidden romance with Ezra. The story had some great surprises along the way and a satisfying ending! Even though this is set in the world of Fable, I consider it a standalone. I flew through the audiobook with narration by Suzy Jackson, a YA favorite.

Review: Dawnstar by Renee Dugan


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Dawnstar
Author: Renee Dugan
Series: The Starchaser Saga #2
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Format: eBook
Length: 413 pages
Publisher: independent
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Recommended for fans of: Dark Shores
Content Warnings: alcoholism, death, violence, child death, child abuse, physical abuse, miscarriage


A missing friend. A hunt for answers. A path to vengeance.

With her Warden stolen, her hopes of an easy alliance thwarted, and her trust in her own kingdom shattered, Princess Cistine Novacek faces her greatest challenge yet: using wit and steel to bring down a wicked Chancellor and prove herself to the cabal’s tentative allies in the Courts. As friendships are tested, bonds broken, and love put to the test, the princess must face the growing threats within the Northern Kingdom – and learn to rise a queen.

Locked away in a desert prison, Asheila Kovar faces the struggle of her life: surviving the ruthless Blood Hive, returning to her princess, and avenging a betrayal against the heart of her kingdom. But there are more secrets and schemes than just hers lurking in the catacombs…and the struggle between powerful forces above and below the sands will test Ashe’s loyalty in dangerous ways.

Ways that may spell death for people the cabal cannot afford to lose.


The way this series has my heart. Dawnstar takes you through ALL the emotions. While reading this book I swooned over so many sweet moments, cried in public, and generally freaked out through suspenseful, tense, and revelatory scenes.

I know that by the end of the series Cistine will be one of my all time favorite female protagonists, and the cabal will be one of my favorite found families. The character writing in this series is top notch and more than compensates for slower moments in the plot. Like it would be so easy to hate Ashe for her choices in this book, but I can’t. That being said…Renee Dugan is not a kind author to her characters!

The angst and slow burn are everything I’ve ever wanted, plus there are multiple ships to root for, although romance takes a backseat to the action and politics. I just love this fantasy world!

Mild spoiler: This book also perfectly illustrates why I don’t mind when characters change love interests if it is an inevitable result of character growth. The person you are now may not be compatible with the same someone as the person you used to be, and I wish more books conveyed that message.

ARC Review: A Duel with the Vampire Lord by Elise Kova


Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: A Duel with the Vampire Lord
Author: Elise Kova
Series: Married to Magic #3 (Standalone)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Audience: New Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 536 pages
Publisher: Silver Wings Press
Release Date: August 18, 2022
Source: Author/Book of Matches Media
Recommended for fans of: A Dance with the Fae Prince, From Blood and Ash
Content Warnings: death, self harm, violence, death of parent, reference to suicide


On the night of the blood moon, the Vampire Lord must die.

Floriane’s position as the forge maiden of Hunter’s Hamlet is one of reverence, for it is her skill that arms and protects the vampire hunters. She knows her place and is a faithful servant to the Master Hunter and her community… until the night of the blood moon. Until her brother is dying at the hands of the Vampire Lord Ruvan.

Wanting to defend her home at all costs, Floriane fights the vampire lord, ready to give her life if it means taking his. But Ruvan doesn’t want to take her life… he wants her.

Kidnapped and brought to the vampire castle, Floriane is now blood sworn to the vampire lord. She is bound in mind and body to her worst enemy. But Ruvan isn’t the fiend she thought he was. She learns the truth of the vampires: They are not mindless monsters, but a proud people, twisted and tortured by an ancient curse.

Ruvan believes that Floriane might be the key to ending his people’s suffering. All Floriane wants is to defend her home. Loyalties are tested and the lines between truth and lie, hate and passion, are blurred.

When her dagger is at his chest, will she be able to take the heart of the man who has claimed hers?

A darkly-reimagined Snow White meets inspiration from Beauty and the Beast in an epic fantasy world of hunters, vampires, and curses that run deeper than blood. This stand alone is complete with a “happily ever after” ending. It’s perfect for fantasy romance fans looking for just the right amount of steam and their next slow-burn and swoon worthy, enemies to lovers story.

While it is set in the Married to Magic universe, readers can start with this book.


I have been in such need of a good vampire romance! A centuries-long feud between humans and vampires culminates on the night of the Blood Moon, when the vampire lord is strong enough to cross the Fade. Floriane, the forge maiden of Hunter’s Hamlet, confronts Lord Ruvan to defend her brother, but ends up kidnapped and bloodsworn to Ruvan to help him break a curse.

Floriane and Ruvan are true enemies to lovers, raised to hate each other’s kind. I honestly could have used a bit more angst! It was there, but I thought they went from hate to love a little too quickly, and Flor’s feelings were very hot and cold.

I enjoyed Elise Kova’s unique fantasy take on vampires. The vampir have such a thorough history, and I was fascinated by the mysteries surrounding the curse and its origins. I was sometimes confused about the specifics of the blood lore magic and the vampir’s unique abilities.

This was definitely darker and bloodier than the other Married to Magic books, but has the same swoon worthy romance, sense of adventure, amazing cast of supporting characters, and happily ever after I expect from the series!

Thank you to the author and Book of Matches Media for the gifted eARC. This did not affect my review.

Audiobook Tour and Review: House of Bastiion by K.L. Kolarich


Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: House of Bastiion
Author: K.L. Kolarich
Series: The Haidren Legacy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: James Wolven
Composer: Kevin MacDougall
Length: 12 hrs 16 mins
Publisher: independent
Print Release Date: November 1, 2020
Audiobook Release Date: June 14, 2022
Source: Book of Matches Media
Recommended for fans of: Mistborn, An Ember in the Ashes
Content Warnings: death, child death, blood, alcohol, sexual harassment


House of Bastiion is the first installment in the award-winning epic fantasy series, The Haidren Legacy. An immersive adventure armed with dark politics, sharp objects, and bickering characters, this treacherous saga packs a legendary punch for adult and NA readers alike. Perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin, and Sabaa Tahir, this savage series is not for the faint of heart.


After the Forgotten Wars ravaged the world and turned it to ash, the realm of Orynthia has thrived. To bring peace to their territories, the Houses of Pilar, Darakai, and Boreal forged an accord with Bastiion, founding a Quadren of advisory to the throne. Each generation, a single haidren is appointed to this coveted chair. But in a land of war and deceit, peace should never be trusted.

When Luscia Tiergan, al’haidren to the House of Boreal, reaches the age of ascension and takes her seat in court, she is driven into a maze of political traps and dark secrets. Her reputation soiled by seclusion and alleged sorcery, Luscia soon uncovers a pattern of forgotten children, slain in the streets of Bastiion.

Ascending from an upbringing rooted in cruelty and suspicion, Zaethan Kasim, al’haidren to the House of Darakai, quickly clashes with Luscia, the newcomer in his midst. His position in Darakai threatened by an old rival, Zaethan is forced into an uneasy alliance to gain the upper hand. As death spills across his second home, Zaethan must set aside his hatred to secure his claim and protect the blameless.

Following a disturbing stream of innocent blood, Luscia and Zaethan learn they are not alone as they race through the heart of Orynthia, the House of Bastiion.


I really enjoyed this dark, political fantasy full of mystery and mistrust. It took me a bit to understand the world building, but it was fascinating and thoughtfully developed. The magic system is curious, and I hope it is explored further in future installments in the series.

I really liked the characters, especially the dynamic between Luscia and Zaethan, natural rivals forced into an uneasy alliance as they investigate threats against their city, their people, and their positions. They had great tension, although there’s no romance…yet. The supporting characters were intriguing and well-developed as well, although I did sometimes get confused when characters were called by their first and last names interchangeably (but I may not have been paying attention enough when they were first introduced in the audiobook).

The audiobook production was fantastic, with narration by James Wolven and musical compositions by Kevin MacDougall. The music between chapters and underlying intense moments in the story enhanced the reading experience. I do wish a female narrator read Luscia’s chapters.

I am always a fan of fantasy books full of intrigue, where you never know who to trust. A solid start to a series with plenty of twists and questions that need to be answered in book 2!

Thank you to the author and Book of Matches Media for the gifted audiobook.

Review: The Calm Before the Storm by Danielle L. Jensen


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Calm Before the Storm
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #3.5
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: digital bonus chapters
Length: 80 pages
Publisher: independent
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Source: preorder incentive for The Inadequate Heir
Recommended for fans of: The Bridge Kingdom…duh
Content Warnings: injury


Set in the world of The Bridge Kingdom series, The Calm Before the Storm is six chapters of extra content that take place after the events of The Traitor Queen and The Inadequate Heir.

Ithicana has been liberated from the Maridrinians, but not everyone holds peace in their hearts. Revered by some as a savior and despised by others as a curse upon the kingdom, Lara must navigate treacherous waters as she resumes rule alongside her husband, Aren. Her only certainty is the bond between them, but long overdue conversations will put the strength of their marriage to the test. They must decide what their future will hold, all while dark clouds gather in the south. A storm that no nation, not even the Bridge Kingdom, will escape unscathed.


The Calm Before the Storm is not quite a proper novella; it is six bonus chapters of Lara and Aren content following The Traitor Queen. This was first available as the preorder incentive for The Inadequate Heir but can now be purchased from Danielle L. Jensen’s website.

I love Lara and Aren as a couple. I expected this to be pure fluff since the author advertised spicy content, but this also showcased Ithicana’s continued mistrust of its queen and hints the political conflicts to come in book 4 of the series. I love the scene with the shark, and I will take whatever scraps of Lara and Aren content I can get as the series continues to focus on other couples.

Review: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Stardust Thief
Author: Chelsea Abdula
Series: The Sandsea Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 468 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Source: BOTM subscription
Recommended for fans of: An Ember in the Ashes, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, A Song of Wraths and Ruin
Content Warnings: violence, death, murder, torture, death of parent, animal death, child death, grief


Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp


I looooooved this debut adult fantasy inspired by One Thousand and One Nights. While the jinn lore was familiar, the story brought new twists that kept me on the edge of my seat and subverted expectations.

There was always something happening in this book. The pacing reminded me of Daughter of the Moon Goddess, with so many action sequences starting from the beginning. The setting and characters were reminiscent of An Ember in the Ashes.

My favorite thing about this book was probably the characters. The story is multi-POV with three narrators. I wasn’t sure why Aisha’s perspective was included at first, but she ended up having the best arc. All of the characters are complex individuals who are deeply flawed but have their own strengths. I appreciate that Mazen is not the typical warrior prince type we’re used to reading in fantasy, but while he sometimes acted cowardly, he excelled at storytelling. Qadir is a fascinating character, and I hope we get his POV in book 2!

The book doesn’t really have romance. The author seemed to set up a potential romance in the early chapters, but it didn’t really go anywhere…and I was glad because by the end I shipped both of them with different characters!

Overall, I thought this book was magical, adventurous, and enthralling. I impatiently await the next installment in this series.

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