Saturday 14 November 2020

Review: Blood & Honey

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove #2) by Shelby Mahurin
Release Date: September 1, 2020

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

*May contain mild spoilers for Serpent & Dove*

Blood & Honey really did have me at hello. It is a masterpiece sequel that is filled to the brim with action, character growth, humour, magic and everything that I could have hoped for a sequel. If you have yet to read Serpent & Dove, please go and do so before the release of this book as you will definitely want to be ready for this next installment.

The story picks up from where Serpent & Dove leaves off. The gang is hiding out from Morgane after an epic surprise attack to rescue Lou from being sacrificed by her mother. In doing so, Reid freed something within himself he never realised he had; magic. He is at a war with himself as chasseur who has been disciplined in all things anti-magic, he now realises he is a witch. After being rescued, Lou is also fighting her own demons and finds herself giving more and more over to her magic. Our characters go to some dark places in this book and I loved it. The duo POV works really well for us to understand the individual struggles our characters are going through. However, Morgane is still a threat, and to defeat her they will need allies. In this book, we meet La Voisin, the powerful leader of the blood witches, the dangerous werewolves, and a travelling circus crew with all sorts of abilities. Mahurin shows us more of the land of Belterra as our gang ventures to gather these allies in the hope of defeating Morgane. 

This book was so magical and I was engrossed from start to finish. There really was not a dull moment and at times could barely catch my breath in between all the action. It feels so far away from Lou and Coco sneaking around the Church and hiding their magic. Serpent & Dove feels lighthearted in comparison to the grittiness of this sequel. There is more at stake and danger lurking around every corner, which made this such a page-turner. I also loved meeting all of the new characters and learning more about the world outside of the Church. I was so happy when we were given more information about Coco's blood magic and experiencing the place of her people; the blood camp. We learn more about other magical beings and the powers possible in this world that wasn't touched on in-depth previously. There has even been talk of mermaids but sadly I think we'll have to wait until the final book to meet them.

This is one of the fantasy must-reads of 2020. If you enjoyed Serpent & Dove, Blood & Honey will most definitely satisfy those that have been on edge since the cliffhanger of the previous book. 

5 Falling Books

Thank you to Harper Teen for providing an eARC on Edelweiss.

Monday 1 June 2020

Review: Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross

Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Sisters of Sword and Song
After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sisterHalcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Sisters of Sword and Song is a beautiful twist on Greek mythology that left me wanting more. It has a great story of sisterhood and friendship with a strong cast of characters. The writing flows easily allowing you to slip into the world and feel completely emersed in its richness. It follows Evadne and Halcyon, two sisters carrying out punishments for an accident that left Halcyon's shield mate in the queen's army dead at her hand. This turns out to be her commander Lord Straton's son. Evadne takes part of Halcyon's sentence and has to serve his household for the next few years to come. Straton's other son Damon is a mage and Evadne grows to learn more magic through him. Meanwhile, Halcyon is sent to the quarry where she struggles each day to stay alive. The story unravels as we learn more about the threats to the queen and a deadly mission to save the kingdom. The dangerous quest involved also reminded me of Percy Jackson with our heroes out to save the world. If you enjoy this classic storyline this book is perfect for you.  

The first thing that won me over in the book was the Greek-inspired mythology and the idea of the relics that all hold individual powers. This is set in a world where gods had once reigned and left magical relics behind for mortals so that they may be able to experience a small piece of magic. Some abandon their families in order to become relic hunters to attempt to get their hands on the few relics that are still lost. I would have liked a bit more explanation or back story to the relics as I found this to be a really interesting aspect of the mythology. There is a guide page at the beginning that lists the relics and their powers, which was very useful and it definitely set the mood for the book. 

The pacing in this book is brilliant and I was never bored. It had a brilliantly original concept that I was immediately interested in. I always find with books with dual POV that I occasionally dread to read one character’s chapters because I prefer the other character’s chapters. However, I did not feel like this at all in this book and found myself loving how it made the story feel complete. I loved that it was about sisters and embodied the depth of family love. The romance in this book does not take centre stage but adds such a nice element to the story in the midst of everything going on. I also loved how sweet and real it felt as it was a slow-burning romance that could have easily been a case of insta-love. For a standalone novel it had an ending that was satisfying overall and a great way to tie-up the story.

If you are looking for YA fantasy with kick-ass characters and great world-building I would highly recommend this book. It is a strong standalone with a lot of heart and I cannot wait to get my hands on other books by Rebecca Ross. 

4.5 Falling Books

A review copy was provided by HarperTeen on Edelweiss.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Book Haul (#110)

This is my book haul for the last two weeks. I've been able to buy some books on Facebook Marketplace and I am loving secondhand book-buying life. 
Sisters of Sword and Song
Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross - ARC (Release: June 23, 2020)
Thank you Harper Teen for the eARC on Edelweiss! This book sounds and looks like my dream. It's a story with a twist on Greek gods and humans with magic. 
Defiance (Defiance, #1)Deception (Defiance, #2)
Deliverance (Defiance, #3)
I bought this beautiful US hardback trilogy and I cannot wait to dive in. I actually read Defiance and Deception previously and rated them highly but cannot for the life of me remember the story. I think it will be interesting to give these a re-read six years later to see if I think they're still just as awesome. And it will also be good to finally finish it after all these years! I must not have been able to get my hands on the finale, but I am so excited to get back into this world again. If you have not heard of this trilogy it's a YA fantasy/dystopian. 

If you have a book haul this week link it in the comments and I would love to check it out! Also if you've read any of the books that I've shown let me know what you think. 

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Waiting on Wednesday (166)

This week I am waiting for:
The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
Release Date: June 2, 2020
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina's life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father's fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger--the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh--Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city's dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice--protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

This book has been described as a Les Miserables meets Six of Crows so I am very intrigued. It's set in Paris during the French revolution. It's giving me historical criminal extravaganza! I don't think I've come across anything like it in a while and I truly hope that the story is just as good as the cover. 
Rupauls Drag Race Season 10 Episode 2 GIF by RuPaul's Drag Race ...
Leave a link to your WoW post in the comments below so I can check it out!

Friday 8 May 2020

Book Haul (#109)

Recently I have been able to get back into reading, which has felt amazing. Maybe it's because of lock-down or maybe it's because I'm in my final term of university completing my degree and exams from home and every cell in my body is screaming for me to procrastinate. Either way, I can't be sure. Here are a few books I've picked up in the last few weeks.
To Kill a Kingdom
I have wanted to read this book for the longest time as it sounded like an amazing twist on The Little Mermaid. I have indeed finished it since I bought it as it wasn't a very long read and I did thoroughly enjoy it. I will aim to have a review up soon. 
Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)The Betrothed (The Betrothed, #1)
I read Serpent & Dove about two weeks ago and I absolutely adored it (check out my review here). It's a witch meets witch-hunter, enemies(ish) to lovers kind of book that I found myself finishing at 4am when I only sat down to read for 20 minutes! Massive thank you to Harper Teen on Edelweiss for access to this ARC. I am so freaking excited for more Lou and Reid! And Ansel and Coco... and all of them, I miss everyone.
Another thank you to Harper Teen for this ARC. I enjoyed The Selection series by this author and this book seems to be a similar type of royal romance! Can't wait to get started on it.

Leave a comment with a link to your book haul or let me know which books you're excited about! 

Sunday 3 May 2020

Review: Serpent and Dove

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Serpent & Dove gave me ALL the feels. It had everything I never knew I needed and made me laugh so hard. It is a perfect blend of magic, mystery, and romance. If you're looking for a story to sweep you off your feet witch-hunter style then you need this book!

Lou is a witch that has had to hide her powers as her kind are hunted and burned at the stake by the Chasseurs (aka witch hunters) of the Church. In a sudden twist of fate involving an incident that could reflect badly on the Church, Lou is forced to marry Reid, a chasseur. You can see where this story is going right? Witch and a witch hunter get married but he doesn't know she's a witch. Lou is also one of the funniest and most loveable characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about, which made this such an enjoyable read. The overarching plot of this story involves exploring the war between the Church and the witches. The way it unfolds just had my jaw on the floor, my heart racing, my palms sweating, I was totally HOOKED! Another aspect I enjoyed this story is that it's set in Belterra which has French vibes. The author has an amazing way of describing the vibe of the city and all of the glorious food it has to offer. My mouth was truly watering at some of the descriptions. 

The enemies-to-lovers romance in this book was everything I could have wanted. I had just finished The Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black and was feeling a bit underwhelmed by Cardan and Jude, but Lou and Reid picked me right up off the floor. I don't think I can describe how entertaining this book is. I loved all the characters and created so many combinations of ships by the end of the book. Reid has stolen my heart and I can't wait to read the next book for him to take my soul.

I would completely recommend Serpent & Dove to anyone who is looking for a unique and fun take on witches and witch hunters with a glorious cast of characters. It has an amazing blend of magic, friendship, romance, and betrayal. This is really a book that you sit down with thinking you'll just read the first few chapters, but then suddenly it's 5am and you finished the whole book! I cannot wait to devour Blood & Honey (book #2) just as fast as I devoured this one. A definitely recommend from me as it put a massive smile on my face.

5 Falling Books

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository

Girl, Serpent, ThornThere was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster. 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a refreshing story rooted in Persian culture and sprinkled with magic. It is effortlessly written and throws the reader into a dark fairytale of a hero struggling with what it means to hold a deadly power.

We follow Princess Soraya who has been cursed with the ability to poison every living creature she touches. She has been hidden away from the people and spends a great deal of her time in isolation. She is at a constant struggle with her deadly power knowing that she could take life with a simple touch and longs to be normal. Soraya is uncertain of what life holds for her until a mysterious guard named Azad begins to show interest in her and convinces her that he does not fear her. The story that follows is a tangled web of plot twists and dangerous encounters, which allows Soraya to learn more about both the curse and herself. Other magical elements of the story include 'divs' which are demons from Persian-mythology that add an interesting element to this world.

I did not anticipate the twists and surprise bombs that this threw at me. At one point I thought I had the story sussed out and then it took an even darker turn. I enjoyed Soraya's character and her development over the book to explore whether her power predetermined her for evil. She was unpredictable and there were moments when I thought she may turn into the villain of the story. Another factor I found refreshing was that the story did not have a heavy focus on the romance plot, as a whole it felt more like a journey of character growth and self-realization. However, I adored the unexpected f/f love interest that Soraya found in the dangerous, badass div Parvenah. A div on a mission to right her past wrongs. I loved Parvenah and Soraya scenes together they were pure magic. Their story flowed nicely alongside the broader plot of the novel and added a soft layer to the darkness of the story.

Overall, I would recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn to lovers of fantasy who are hungry for something slightly different. This Persian-inspired world of magic and demons is a great standalone to sink your teeth into with a truly original story.

3.5 Falling Books

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for providing an ARC for review on Netgalley.