A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova – Review

Published: August 19, 2021

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Series: Married to Magic #2

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 344 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?


Elise Kova has done it again! I’m absolutely loving these standalone fantasy romances that are set in the same world. This particular tale is described as a mix of Cinderella and the tale of Psyche and Eros and the beginning definitely has strong Cinderella themes. 

Katria is the unwanted stepdaughter and since her father disappeared at sea, her stepmother has only grown more inclined to abuse her. The final straw is when her stepmother springs a surprise marriage arrangement where her family will receive a substantial bride price and she’ll be stolen away to marry a mysterious lord. To her pleasant surprise, Katria finds a beautiful mansion near the woods but it comes with an unusual set of rules – don’t look upon her husband, don’t leave the grounds, and don’t leave her room at night no matter what she hears. All goes well until Katria finds a note from her husband and she follows him into the woods, interrupting a strange fae ritual where she is granted the magic that he had prepared for so long to reclaim. Thus begins Katria’s journey into the Fae lands and she can finally get to know Davien, the mystery man she married as he tries to claim the throne that should rightfully be his.

Katria is quite an easy character to empathize with and Davian, though frustrating at first, ends up being quite likable as well. There’s a nice cast of secondary characters, the evil king is a pretty standard jerk, and the settings were “fairy” cool. This story isn’t revolutionizing the genre, but I do think this series is one of the best in the fantasy romance category. I’ve read some that were ABSOLUTE TRASH (reviews forthcoming!) and Elise Kova is wayyy better than much of the competition! Admittedly, I’m fairly new to the genre but I’ve checked out a few of the more popular series that are garnering attention on TikTok and Bookstagram as well as a few that came recommended from a friend and I can safely say that this is one of my favorites.

My biggest peeve with this is that there are always extra chapters that aren’t in the books – you have to join the author’s mailing list and read them on her website. It’s super frustrating because they’ve been great and absolutely needed to be an epilogue chapter in the book!

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman – Review

Published: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Grim Oak Press

Series: The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Forever shamed for family actions a century earlier, Antiquity Grey is a young woman living in a far-future city of Erth. It is a life of danger and hardship, dragons and advanced technology.

But when she discovers an outlawed and operational mech buried in the sands of her planet, she realizes its secrets hold the power to reverse her family’s dishonor while challenging the Imperium’s off-world oppressive might.


This was purely a cover/title request and I don’t regret it at all! I mean, who can resist a book about a girl with an illegal mech trying to overthrow the oppressive ruling class? Certainly not me! 

Antiquity Grey is a headstrong, inquisitive girl and during one of her many explorations, she uncovers a mech in the desert. Turns out it was the mech that her grandmother had piloted during the war, but it was sabotaged and it appeared that she had fled the battle she was about to enter. Thus was Antiquity’s family grey-shamed, their name and power stripped and forgotten by all. 

Of course Antiquity pilots the found mech into the city to be seen by all. She naively thinks people will be happy, but it only terrifies them for the danger it presents. When she must flee for her life, she’s joined by two of her childhood friends and one of her enemies. They meet fascinating people along the way and must stay ahead of the ever-present danger that lurks behind them.

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey is a good book somewhere between YA and Adult fantasy and will appeal to both audiences. The characters may be teens, but the plot is quite serious in nature and fortunately doesn’t have any of the YA tropes that can be a big turn off to some readers. While I didn’t immediately connect with the characters I did grow to like them as the story progressed and they became more three dimensional. I like the blend of sci-fi and fantasy elements – mechs, dragons, and oppressors who live in the stars made the story extra special. I’m not 100% I’ll continue on with the series, but this was pretty enjoyable.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming releases you’re excited about!

I am 100% fascinated by the synopsis for The Carnival of Ash. This is the story of Cadenza, an Italian city full of poets and librarians that never existed. Though the synopsis doesn’t give much away, I think it’s going to be full of political intrigue and lyrical prose. I suppose we’ll just have to wait until March 15, 2022 to find out!

Currently Reading: 9/13/21

Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn
I ended up with an overabundance of new books to read in September, so I decided to pick this up on Audible instead of reading the eARC I got. So far it’s not bad, but I haven’t really clicked with any of the characters yet.

The Splinter King by Mike Brooks
I’ve been really looking forward to this and am thrilled that it’s only been 7 or 8 months since the release of the first book. I shouldn’t need a refresher and can’t wait to see where this exciting political fantasy goes!

I was hoping to get more reading done last week, but I came down with a stomach bug over the weekend 😦 Time to do some catching up this week!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming releases you’re excited about!

The Bone Orchard initially drew me in thanks to both the title and cover and then I stayed when I read that synopsis! Charm is a witch and concubine to the dying Emperor. He charges her to uncovering his murderer and choosing one of his awful sons to be the next Emperor once he passes. It sounds wonderfully dark and somewhat similar to some other books I’ve enjoyed recently. This will be released March 22, 2022.

The Forever King by Ben Galley – Review

Published: December 1, 2020

Publisher: BenGalley.com

Series: The Scalussen Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 664 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:
Revenge loves company.

Mithrid Fenn wants nothing to do with magick. Magick is a curse word, banned by the vast Arka Empire and punishable by death. Its purging has finally brought peace to war-torn Emaneska. Only a stubborn rebellion, led by the warlord Outlaw King, raids and pillages the empire’s northern fringes.

To cliff-brat Mithrid, this is an age of tranquility and childhood games. That is until an illegal spellbook washes up on her shores, and she finds herself thrust into a war she never knew existed.

Now hunted by daemons and mages, she is dragged inexorably north to Scalussen and its rebels fighting doggedly to preserve a memory of freedom. Mithrid holds no such ideals. She fights for revenge and nothing nobler. If spilling blood means helping the Outlaw King, then so be it. Even if it means all-out war.

The Forever King is the first book in a new trilogy – The Scalussen Chronicles – set in the dark and nordic world of The Emaneska Series. A breathless and emotional tale of revenge that crisscrosses a vast world, The Forever King is an epic fantasy ideal for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and Mark Lawrence.


I was desperately in need of another audiobook to listen to and quite frankly this just sounded amazing. And it was! Fair warning, it is the beginning of a new series set in a world that Ben Galley has already established quite well in the completed Emaneska series. It is set years after that series (as far as I can determine) and follows new and old characters alike. It didn’t dampen my enjoyment whatsoever and I’m definitely going back to read the four books in the Emaneska series soon.

The Forever King follows Mithrid Fenn, a young girl who’s village was slaughtered when she and some young friends stumbled across a spell book in ship wreckage. Magic is outlawed in her kingdom and soldiers were sent to murder them and clean up the mess. She and several others from the village are taken north to Scalussen and the man they call the Forever King. He is one of the last Written – a type of mage who’s spellbook is inked into their skin – and is determined to bring down Emperor Malvus. Fardan, the Forever King, needs every available soldier he can get even if they need to be trained and if they have magic, then all the better. 

Mithrid is an understandably hostile character at first, trusting no one since soldier came and murdered her father and much of the rest of her village. She’s hesitant to trust Fardan and his allies because she’s heard nothing but terrible things about them her whole life and it just seems to good to be true. Surely, a place where you can freely come and go and be well fed can’t possibly exist? Despite this, she’s rather easy to root for and I wanted to see her succeed! Fardan is a man of immense power who doesn’t really want the infamous moniker of the Forever King. What a weight! He’s powerful, but also temperamental and it’s made very clear that he has never been nor ever will be perfect. It’s good to see a reasonably fallible yet likable leader. There are numerous secondary characters that move the story along and may become more important as things go along. I love all the different magical races, plus intelligent dragons make just about any story even cooler. 

The world building in this book is stellar. There’s tons of cool magical races, talking dragons, the epicness of the Written’s magic, demon princes, and piles of lore. It’s so well thought out and is brought to life brilliantly, especially in the audiobook format. I was rather taken by surprise when I ended up loving this. I didn’t expect to dislike it, it’s just a little unexpected (and great!) when a new favorite comes out of nowhere! I’m over here impatiently waiting to see when the audiobook for the sequel, Heavy Lies the Crown becomes available since the narration is done so well. I admit, I might be tempted to just pick up the print edition so I can find out what happens!

I think this could easily become a new favorite series/fantasy world. Scalussen and Emaneska seem to have so much to offer and I can’t wait to dig into the prequel series starting with The Written and see where the whole story begins.

Shards of the Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Review

Published: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Final Architecture #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us an extraordinary new space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared – and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.


A new Adrian Tchaikovsky book is alway cause for celebration! He’s known for writing wonderfully imaginative science fiction and fantasy, and this time (rather than spiders) we encounter mysterious alien beings called the Architects that turn entire planets into grotesque sculptures, leaving them uninhabitable. Earth has suffered such a fate, finding it’s crust ripped open and splayed like a planetary flower. Humanity and its speciated relations go to war with the Architects and are badly losing until a girl is somehow able to communicate with them and repel the Architects.

St. Xavienne as she becomes known, is the standard by which humanity develops the Intermediaries – humans who they’ve subjected to every treatment possible to replicate Xavienne’s ability. The Ints turn the tide of the war (more like a slaughter) and drive away the Architects. Unfortunately, there are some side effects of messing with the human brain to that degree and Idris does not sleep and does not age. He’s one of the last surviving Ints from the war and is flying around with a group of salvagers as their deep space pilot (one of the Int abilities). Of course then Solace, a Partheni warrior who was assigned to him back during the war, shows up and things go sideways.

When they are sent to find a ship that’s gone missing they find evidence that the Architects have returned – humanity’s worst nightmare. Thus begins a saga of danger that kept me entranced from the very beginning. Idris’s crewmates are a wonderful cast and not all of them are entirely lovable. Solace is excellent and proves to be a sympathetic main character, though I must admit some of the Partheni adages are a little silly. I mean, she refers to her division as the Angel of Punching You in the Face which definitely seems like a joke. Did I mention that the Partheni themselves are pretty cool though? It’s an offshoot of Earth humans, basically just a bunch of vat grown super soldier women (no men) who have more advanced tech. There are some other really cool alien races as well and there’s a decent amount of interspecies politics to explore too!

There are plenty of on and off-planet battles, ship-to-ship combat, precarious plunges into the void, nasty politics, and so forth. If you’re looking for an action packed book then you would definitely be satisfied reading Shards of the Earth. Equally, if you’re looking for great characters with a smidge of a found family theme this is also the book for you. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to check out the next one when it’s out!

Waiting on Wednesday: Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming releases you’re excited about!

Bounty hunters in space, a possible enemies to lovers plot line, and possible interstellar war qualified Hunt the Stars for my 2022 TBR! What a fun adventure this could be! I don’t read much sci-fi and even less sci-fi romance, but I can’t wait to check this out. This will be released February 1, 2022.

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair – Review

Published: May 25, 2020

Publisher: Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades & Persephone #1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 358 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

Synopsis:
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.


OKAY, WOW. Fantasy Romance binge continues, but upon further consideration I may increase the rating of some other books I’ve read recently. This one was… well, it was fun and steamy but the main character is an idiot. There wouldn’t be much plot if she would stop being so disagreeable like 100% of the time and if either of the main characters could hold a conversation that didn’t devolve to idiocy.

Anyway, a summary. This is a Hades and Persephone retelling set in a modern day Greece where the gods have returned to Earth to walk among mortals. Mortals celebrate them and fawn over them like celebrities because, well, they are. Persephone is trying to escape from under her mother Demeter’s thumb and is pretending to be a mortal and attending university. She’s got a sweet journalism internship, an apartment with her best friend, and life is going pretty well. Until she ends up unintentionally making a bargain with Hades in one of his gambling dens. She must bring life to the Underworld and if she can’t she gets trapped there for half the year. 

The plot is largely minor struggles, with her bargain with Hades taking up the lead. She writes an article on how awful Hades is because of these bargains he makes with mortals and has a nasty experience with a co-worker. She also ends up dealing with her mother, who just reminds her that she’s useless without her borrowed magic. Because of course Persephone can’t just be a normal goddess – her powers are basically non-existent. It ultimately culminates with Persephone and Hades absolutely mad about one another and also frequently mad at one another.

Like I said, if they could have a mature conversation there wouldn’t be so many issues. Instead Hades is compulsively secretive and shady, playing up the broody Lord of the Dead aspect very well. Persephone is even worse, wildly jumping to conclusions like it’s an Olympic sport and refusing to listen to a whole sentence from Hades so that he might explain anything. In short, it’s not an example of a healthy relationship but MAN IT’S SO FUN TO READ. 

That’s literally the whole reason this book received the rating it did. Because it was unputdownable and ridiculously entertaining, also, there are some fantastic side characters. Hermes and Hecate and Lexa are brilliant and are by far my favorite characters. The worldbuilding seems really cool, but at this point it was a little shallow. I have tons of criticism about the book, clearly, but it was entertaining, had me emotionally invested in the characters and then I bought the second book and started reading right away.

*Forgive me if I’ve included any books from the second book here – I read them consecutively and they sort of blurred together a bit*