Book Review: If We Ever Meet Again, written by Ana Huang

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to review Ana Huang’s NA contemporary romance, If We Ever Meet Again, book one of If Love Duet. It’s available on Amazon KU and on kindle for only $1.31!

Continue reading “Book Review: If We Ever Meet Again, written by Ana Huang”

Of witches and their hunters…Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review

Of witches and their hunters...Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and dove by Shelby Mahurin

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 528
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Buy:Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

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.

– My Thoughts –

“Wicked are the ways of women — and especially a witch”

I first read Serpent & Dove as an eARC and I was mesmerized by the way the author combined some of my favourite tropes – enemies to lovers romance, Marriage of Convenience – to create a wonderful fantasy set against the backdrop of 17th century France. 

After I got the physical ARC, I read it again and here are my final thoughts…

In the land of Belterra, witches are burned at the stake and the witch hunters or the Chasseurs along with their leader, the Archbishop are ruthless. Lou, a witch, has left her coven two years ago and is now trying to survive in the city of Cesarine either by lying, stealing or even killing. After remaining undetected for two years, a burglary goes wrong and it sets her past enemies after her. When Lou ends up in a “compromising” position with Captain (of the Chasseurs) Reid, the Archbishop comes up with a solution: go to prison for the rest of her life or marry Reid.

“Conscious of the Chasseurs’ eyes on me, I forced a smirk and bumped my husband’s hip, pretending that it’d all been a show. A laugh. That I’d just been goading him to get a reaction.

That I wasn’t a witch in Mass, standing amongst my enemies and worshipping someone else’s god.

Lou agrees to marry Reid, a witch-hunter, as he can also offer protection from those who are hunting her. Reid, despite his initial scorn towards Lou, agrees to marry her and protect her. 

It was fun seeing the progression of their relationship; their good-natured bickering and Reid slowly welcoming Lou into his life. This slow-burning romance climaxed into an explicit sex scene which made me wonder why it was categorized as YA. The characters act mature enough and the themes justify this book to be placed under NA rather than YA.

There wasn’t much world-building to speak of and this is what I missed during my first read. Sure, the writing is magical and so is the romance; there are well-placed plot twists and lots of well-timed action that made this book very addictive. However, it could have been more magical if there was good world-building at play. The magical system was very unique; some witches used blood while others offered some sort of sacrifice in exchange for using magic. Since this is the first book in a series, I have high hopes that the world is going to expand and we’re going to get a deeper look into the world of Lou and Reid.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love enemies to lovers, slow-burn and marriage of convenience tropes; fantasy about witches set in 17th century France, smartass and badass female characters, amazing female friendships, morally grey characters, an intricate magical system, and engaging writing.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

– About the Author –

Shelby Mahurin

Shelby Mahurin grew up on a small farm in rural Indiana, where sticks became wands and cows became dragons. Her rampant imagination didn’t fade with age, so she continues to play make-believe every day—with words now instead of cows. When not writing, Shelby watches the Office and obsesses over her Twitter feed. She still lives near that childhood farm with her very tall husband, semi-feral toddlers, two dogs, and one cat. 

Shelby’s favorite books include A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and, of course, Harry Potter.

Her debut novel, SERPENT & DOVE, will release from Harper Teen in Fall 2019, with a sequel to come the following year. She is represented by Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord Literistic.

For more about Shelby, visit her website and her Goodreads page, or follow her on Twitter.

Thank you for reading! Have you read Serpent & Dove? Is it on your wish-list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell

Review & Intl Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun, written by Jill Criswell
Blog Tour: Three Days in Florence, written by Chrissie Manby | Review

Beasts of the Frozen Sun(Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

Publication date: August 6, 2019 
Publisher: Blackstone
Pages: 368
Genre: Fantasy, YA(NA)
Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

Trigger Warnings: Death, Abuse, mentions of rape

– My Thoughts –

I was in awe after seeing the cover of Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell and its inside was almost as beautiful as its outside. Let’s unpack my thoughts on this dark YA- borders on NA- fantasy and see if it’s something you’d love.

The enemy’s small army was spread out before him, waving their weapons, shouting, beating in wild fury upon their shields.

Beasts starts with a bloody battle where we meet one of our protagonists Reyker who is later sent to destroy another village where our heroine Lira lives. In the beginning, Reyker could be viewed as a soul-less pillager as we just witnessed the devastation he causes along with the other warriors fighting for a god called the Dragon. However, we soon realize that he’s there against his will and that he’s fighting to keep his humanity alive.

Lira is a soul-reader; she was god-gifted or as more commonly known as a Daughter of Aillira. Daughters of Aillira all have different sorts of magic but not all of the women in Lira’s island have the abilities. Women have two options on this island of Glasnith: get married or pledge themselves to Aillira’s Temple. As a grand-daughter of her clan’s leader, she should have some modicum of the freedom but alas, that’s only a dream for Lira. She’s used as a weapon for her clan like all the other god gifted women. One day, after witnessing the execution of a man in which she was complicit, she discovers a wounded foreigner near the shores and it’s none other than Reyker. Due to their history, Lira feels compelled to help Reyker without thinking of its consequences. Soon, Lira will have to choose between saving her village and her foreigner..her beast from the lands of the Frozen Sun.

You wield the lost sword of the Frozen Sun. A weapon of the Ice Gods in the hands of the Green Gods’ soul-reader. ’Tis a story poets will pen, a tale fit for the scriptures.

There’s no doubt that Jill Criswell has written a wonderful story based off of Celtic mythology where Gods toy with mortals and bend them to their will. I loved the forbidden aspect of romance and the historical setting with clans, warriors, badass women all of whom were equipped with different powers!! There’s the bit of an anti-hero aspect to Reyker too and I loved the way the author slowly unpacked the reasons behind his darkness. It was beautiful to watch the way Lira and Reyker’s friendship unfolded, how they learned to communicate, how Lira helped Reyker tread through a path of darkness into the light. The villain was pretty frightening and even though he played a minor role in this book, his actions suggest a bigger role in the upcoming sequel. Although I loved the characters, the setting, and the cliffhanger ending, there was something missing in the book. Keeping in mind that I read an ARC, I found that a lot of the actions seemed repetitive to me. The majority of the story takes place on the island and I wanted them to get out of the island at some point. If you’d noticed, I wrote NA in parentheses besides genre(above in description) because Beasts of the Frozen Sun reads more like an NA fantasy with the pace of YA.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a darker, grittier fantasy that borders on NA more than YA; if you’re a lover of a little bit of mystery, fantasy, star-crossed lovers angst, politics, and romance. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, there are a lot of things that were left unexplained but it definitely kept me on my toes which I appreciated very much! Book two in the Frozen Sun saga is set to release sometime next year.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

Website | Goodreads |  Twitter

International Giveaway

Thanks to the publisher, I’ll be giving away two hardcovers of Beasts of the Frozen Sun and exclusive tote bags! Open internationally. Just click on the image below:

International Giveaway: Beasts of the Frozen Sun

P.S.: If the image isn’t clickable for any reason, please click here.

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