Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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wickedsaintsWicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Something Dark and Holy #1

Date Published: April 2nd, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Wicked Saints was one of my most anticipated novels of the year, though I was a combination of excited and wary to read it. This seemed like one of those plots that I would really get into or just not enjoy at all. And while I didn’t absolutely love it, it still ended up falling into that first category and I had a pretty good time with it. From the vivid characterization to the unique and intriguing magic systems, I was sucked into this novel very quickly. A dark tale full of diverse characters and a vividly depicted setting, this proved to be an interesting read.

The countries of Kalyazin and Tranavia have been locked in a war that has spanned nearly a century and there still seems to be no end in sight. Nadya, an orphan who has lived within a monastery all her life, is not only there for training but also for her own protection. She is the first Kalyazin in many years to possess magic—a magic that allows her to communicate with the gods and goddesses and receive powers from them. If she were to fall into the hands of the Tranavians it would mean the downfall of Kalyazin. As she runs from the Tranavians, desperate to survive and determined to keep the religion of Kalyazin alive, she must draw on her great bravery to try and end the war while accepting the help of some people she is hesitant to trust.

The narrative starts off extremely fast-paced—perhaps a bit too fast-paced. We are thrown into the action immediately and while I do like books that really get into things quickly, I felt that it would have been nice to have a just little bit more exposition in the first few pages. There is not a whole lot that lets us know who the characters are, their relationships, nor what their situation is. Also, we know very little about the initial setting before we are thrown out of it. This made it a little hard to form my first connections with the characters and I felt that the scene that ensues definitely needed that.

That being said, when Duncan begins to reveal more information and backstory throughout the following chapters, she does a good job of working it into the narrative. I found things to be a bit confusing for a little too long at the beginning, but I felt that everything was cleared up at some point. There are no major info dumps or any slowing of the pace as she reveals these facts, which is a trap that is quite easy to fall into.

Each piece of description about the characters and the magic system fits into the moment—they are relevant to what is taking place in the main narrative and are seamlessly sewn throughout the plot. Formatting the story this way also allows Duncan to show rather than tell while building the world. She does a great job of giving the reader knowledge of an aspect such as the characters’ personalities through showing their exchanges with each other and how they interact with the environment.

Speaking of the characters, they were a very strong element of this novel. She does a good job of not only creating three-dimensional characters but also depicting how they change and evolve over the course of the narrative. The good guys were easy to love and the villains were fun to hate. I particularly liked the portrayal of the gods and goddesses and how Nadya interacts with them. I also really liked Serefin and how Duncan built his character (at this point, I’m fairly sure I just have a thing for bad boys). I found him to be a particularly interesting and complex character who captured my attention right from the start. My only complaint character-wise was the romance. To be fair, I am extremely hard to please when it comes to romance in novels and this was one I was just not sold on.

Duncan builds the world in which this story unfolds very well. Her descriptions are very vivid and detailed—they truly pull the reader in. She has a wonderful talent for writing. Her words flowed beautifully and easily carried me all the way through to the final page. Very lyrical and captivating, her words were so enjoyable to read. I absolutely loved the Russian and Polish influences in all aspects of this book. Duncan clearly put a huge amount of time and effort into incorporating these cultures into the creation of everything from the setting to the magic systems.

The magic was one of my absolute favorite parts of the plot. Nadya’s magic as a cleric particularly caught my attention. As I said early, I found it to be extremely unique as it was completely based around the gods and goddesses of the world in this novel. I loved learning about each of the gods and goddess and what sort of powers they each bestowed on Nadya. I did feel that she fell a bit into the “special-snowflake” category, but that did not bother me as much as it can in some stories. And though she was not as strong a lead as I hoped she would be, I still liked hearing her story. Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. I am definitely interested enough to continue on with this series as the next installments come out.

3.5 TARDISes

Author Bio:

Emily A. DuncanEMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

Social Links:

Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows
Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/

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Reviews: The Day Is Ready For You and This is the Journey by Alison Malee

thedayisreadyforyouThe Day Is Ready For You by Alison Malee

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Series

Date Published: May 15th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 144 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository 

Synopsis: I will tell you
again and again:
in some small way,
everything matters.

The Day Is Ready for You is a prose and poetry collection weaving together the fractured, gritty pieces of the past, and the light that can break through an open window if you let it.

This is the first book of a two-book series about grace, heartbreak, and breathing freely.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is the first collection of poetry by Malee that I have read and I really enjoyed it a lot. It was such an inspiring and enlightening work, and I found myself completely captivated by her words. There tends to be a lot of repetition in modern poetry in terms of subject matter, and I believe it takes a special writer to truly distinguish their writing from the rest. Malee does this with such ease—she has a remarkable talent for expressing her thoughts and feelings both on her own experience and on society as whole. Her poems tackle very important subjects, such as feminism, that are especially topical right now.

Malee’s writing and imagery is beautiful and vivid, and the messages she wishes to convey shine through clearly. Her depiction of raw human emotion—happiness, love, grief, pain, strength—is incredibly relatable and will pull the reader into her words. Personally, I felt a deep connection with every theme within this collection. She puts into words that which feels so complex and challenging to grasp. She spells these feelings out in a creative way that makes every thought even more powerful.

4.0 TARDISes

thisisthejourneyThis Is The Journey by Alison Malee

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Series

Date Published: April 2nd, 2019

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 144 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: This Is The Journey is a stillness. A clean slate. A step back. An open window. 

The counterpart to The Day Is Ready For YouThis Is The Journey is a collection of poetry and prose to help bridge the space between wanting, waiting, and possibility.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is the Journey is a follow-up to her previous collection, The Day is Ready For You. As the title would imply, she takes the reader on a journey throughout the work. This is both about her own personal journey as well as the reader’s. Not only does she write on very relatable emotions in general, the inclusion of actual events in her life adds that extra bit of humanity and realism into them. One of the main messages to take away from this collection is that we are not alone on our journey—we are bound together by similar feelings as we travel through life’s ups and downs.

Like the last collection, I found her writing to be equally as beautiful and powerful. She has a talent for really engaging a reader in each poem and pulling them into her words.  I was completely hook just on the gorgeous writing alone, but there are so many other ways that Malee’s words moved me. I felt a deep connection with the vivid emotions and imagery she uses to convey the meaning of each piece. In my opinion, her poems are complex and sometimes abstract and it works perfectly for the equally complex emotional journey she is writing about. I would highly recommend giving her work a try and I definitely plan to read more of it in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker and Planting Gardens in Graves II by r.h. Sin

dropkickromanceDROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: March 6th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 176 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “dropkick this broken heart and make it feel again.”

From pro-wrestler-turned-poet Cyrus Parker comes a poetic memoir that tells the tale of two relationships. The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on Parker’s current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace, who penned a beautiful foreword for the book. This collection takes you by hand and brings you on a journey through first love, heartbreak, and learning to love again.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This collection ended up being a really lovely read. It is split into two parts. The first part deals with a relationship Parker had that was quite harmful and toxic. The second part focuses on his current relationship with fellow poet Amanda Lovelace—a much healthier and loving relationship. His story is a fascinating one to hear and this format works very well to convey the deepest emotions he experiences during these events. His words are raw and powerful as he gives his readers a very personal look at his life.

It is incredibly brave when a poet delves this deeply into such personal matters and I commend the fact that he went and put himself out there like this. I believe his words will inspire and benefit many readers. The messages within each poem are not solely autobiographical—they serve to remind us that we are all human and that, thought we may feel alone in our journey through life, we are not. I am definitely a fan of Cyrus Parker’s work and I look forward to reading plenty more of it in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

plantinggardensingravesIIPlanting Gardens in Graves II by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Planting Gardens in Graves #2

Date Published: July 10th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 224 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: From the beloved author of Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel comes the second volume in his newest series.

r.h. Sin continues his bestselling series with Planting Gardens in Graves IIanother powerful collection of poetry that hones in on the themes dearest to his readers. This series celebrates connection, mourns heartbreak, and above all, empowers its readers to seek the love they deserve.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I think this is going to be the end of my journey through r.h. Sin’s work. It really is just not for me. I enjoyed the first few collections I read by him and was quite hopeful, but as I read the others, things went downhill. To be honest, I feel as though I am reading the exact same collection of poetry over and over again when it comes to his books. Not only are the topics repetitive, I swear there are some poems that are the same but worded slightly differently. That is the overall feeling that this collection gives.

It is very clear that Sin definitely has a talent for writing as his words tend to be quite beautiful. But the style he writes in pulls one’s attention away from that. His poetry can be hard to get into because they are quite choppy. It is not entirely clear why he cuts off lines where he does as there is no real powerful, emotional effect that comes from it. This causes me to become disconnected from the words and meaning, therefore taking away a lot of the desired impact.

As I have said in the past, it is nice to see a man writing poetry that speaks on the strength and beauty of women and does make an attempt at promoting equality. However, what bothers me is that there is still this feeling I get with some of his poems that he is portraying us more as an object or possession rather than as a human. That slight arrogance also remains, as he writes about how terrible all other men are and implies he is the only one worthy of being with a woman. I apologize if this review sounds like I am ranting in any way—it is absolutely not intended to offend or to criticize the author as a person. Both his writing and his treatment of subject matter just really rub me the wrong way.

1.0 TARDIS

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Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

theassassinsapprenticeAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Farseer Trilogy #1

Date Published: April 1st, 1995

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 392 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

I went into this novel with what seemed like absurdly high expectations and it managed to not only meet but exceed all of those expectations. Having heard so many wonderful things about Robin Hobb’s novels, I was certain I would enjoy it, but I never expected to fall so in love with this absolutely beautiful piece of literature. Assassin’s Apprentice captivated me from page one. Literally. One day, I picked it up just to try out a few pages and there was no stopping me after that. I devoured every aspect of this narrative, was enchanted by the magic, enthralled by the political intrigue, and surprised by all the twists and turns. This world and its characters completely ensnared me and I never wanted to leave.

In this novel, we follow Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, and a royal bastard. As a young boy, he is abandoned and sent to live in the royal household where he is written off, shunned by most he comes across. He begins his time here living with the stable master, Burrich, and finding what little companionship he has with the animals he works and lives with. When a magical art, called the Wit, makes itself evident within him, he finds peace, and even love, with the intense link this power allows him to have with his animal friends. Despite the danger of it and the nobility’s distaste for such powers, it is his lifeline in a world that wishes he never existed.

From the day he gets dropped off at the Farseer door, we are witness to many years of Fitz’s struggle to fit in, grow up, and to simply just survive as a reluctantly tolerated member of this royal family. When he one day garners the attention of the king, he is thrust into a life of lessons that befit a child of the Farseer name—and there is something more. Under cover of night, Fitz is being trained to become a powerful, royal assassin. And with strange goings-on at court and the growing underpinnings of corruption among royals, Fitz may just have his work cut out for him.

Robin Hobb’s writing is some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. She completely captures the high fantasy style of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which I have always thought had such a unique and particularly enchanting quality to it. This is the sort of writing that truly made me into the fantasy lover that I am today, and there was this very poignantly nostalgic feel that wrapped around me until the final page. To say she has a talent for crafting an emotionally vivid and intriguingly complex narrative is an understatement. The way she has woven each and every element seamlessly together to create a multi-layered and unforgettable tale is remarkable.

Now, when I say this novel is complex, I definitely do not mean that it is challenging to follow or understand. Personally, I was blown away by how easily I fell into the many branches of this storyline. There is so much intricate detailed poured into every moment—into every event and setting and relationship. Years go by and new knowledge, twists, and turns fill each page and never once does it become muddled or overwhelming. Hobb writes in such a way that effortlessly carries you over every single page, not allowing you to get lost along the way. So many stories and so many characters and so many twists, yet not one bit of it is left unresolved.

And as if I haven’t been gushing enough already, there is still the topic of the characters. These marvelous, three-dimensional characters that are the driving force of this novel. Fitz is an incredibly strong lead character, someone who is easy to connect and sympathize with. His story is equal parts heart-wrenching and heart-pounding, and it is impossible not to cheer for him all the way. He faces such massive obstacles and stands up to them, persevering in the most unlikely circumstances. Fitz is not one of those flawless heroes—every aspect of his life, every success and failure, is chronicled in these pages. His growth throughout the narrative as he fights to give himself a life is awe-inspiring.

Every single character Robin Hobb creates in this story is multi-dimensional and fully fleshed out. They are all made into a significant element of the overall narrative, contributing in some way, however small, to the unfolding of the plot. I thought Hobb did a brilliant job building each and every one of her characters with care and precision.

Chade and the Fool were two of my absolute favorites. From the second they enter, they are both depicted with a vivid and striking characterization that makes them unforgettable. Another favorite of mine was Verity Farseer. He is truly a gentleman—a compassionate, intelligent, and hard-working man who stands up for what he believes in and puts the welfare of his people above anything else. And, just on a side note, he may also be one of my new book boyfriends.

As I am sure you have already guessed, I adored this novel with all my heart, and it has turned me into a complete Robin Hobb addict. This was such a satisfying read and is one that will continue to stick with me throughout my entire life, both as a reader and as a writer. It is this type of work that inspires me so greatly when it comes to my own personal writing, as fantasy is my genre of choice.

It is rare to find a book that impacts me quite as much as this one did—one that rekindles that initial feeling I had as I discovered my love of reading—and which reminds me why I am so passionate about literature. The next book, Royal Assassin, is sitting in front of me as we speak, and I am so eager to throw myself back into this world. If you have not tried out Robin Hobb’s novels, I highly recommend giving this one a go.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

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thehuntforthemadwolfsdaughterThe Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Mad Wolf’s Daughter #2

Date Published: March 5th, 2019

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Pages: 288 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In this Scottish medieval adventure, after attempting a daring rescue of her war-band family, Drest learns that Lord Faintree’s traitorous uncle has claimed the castle for his own and convinced the knights that the lord has been slain . . . by her hand. Now with a hefty price on her head, Drest must find a way to escape treacherous knights, all the while proving to her father, the “Mad Wolf of the North,” and her irrepressible band of brothers that she is destined for more than a life of running and hiding. Even if that takes redefining what it means to be a warrior.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review, but does contain some spoilers for the previous novel, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.

I read and absolutely adored the first novel in this series, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter but, at the time, I believed it would be a standalone. So a few months ago, when I discovered there would be a sequel, I was ecstatic. And this novel absolutely did not disappoint. It is impossible to not be pulled into this story and become wrapped up in the lives of these vivid characters. The plot is exciting and action-packed, filled with heart-pounding moments and intriguing twists that add further depth into this world Magras has created. It takes readers on an incredibly fun journey with a remarkably brave young girl and a tale of love and friendship at its center.

This novel picks up exactly where the last one left off, as Drest, her family, and her newfound friends are on the run from the traitorous Lord Oswyn and his knights. With her brothers free from Faintree Castle’s prison and Emerick rescued from his uncle, the group finds themselves facing a dangerous and powerful enemy. Their situation is made even worse as Drest finds out Sir Oswyn has put a large price on her head, which means finding trustworthy allies is all the more difficult. As they fight to take back the castle and restore the rightful ruler, Drest is determined to prove to her family that they deserve more than a life of running and fighting and, in the process, learn what it truly means to be a warrior.

This story is equally as captivating as its predecessor. As in the previous novel, Magras’ writing is absolutely beautiful. Between the strength of her narrative and the vibrancy of her world and characters, she creates a truly immersive experience. She clearly depicts the Scottish headland and gives the reader a good idea of the type of environment and terrain the characters are dealing with. The language and slang used further adds to the realism and allows the reader to easily imagine both the time period the story takes place in and the voices of each individual character.

Her writing style has this sort of classic fantasy novel feel to it, which personally transports me back to my childhood as I grew up devouring everything in this genre. It is a story that is very warm and inviting. Magras weaves the setting, the characters’ lives, and the political intrigue of the plot together in a way that enraptures the reader. The themes of love, strength, and courage—of loyalty to those you love the most—are depicted extremely well. Becoming wrapped up in this story is such an enjoyable experience, one that I never want to end.

Drest is a strong female lead—truly living up to her role as a warrior and a legend. I absolutely loved getting the chance to see more of her story and how she has and continues to grow and change. She is tough, feisty, and not about to be underestimated. Yet she is also not unrealistically powerful or without faults. There are times when she learns she still needs the help of her friends and family and that they are all at their best when they work together.

I really enjoyed getting to see more of Drest’s relationships with the other characters, particularly between her and her family. Her father and brothers are a huge part of the first novel, but their actual physical presence in the narrative is very short. In this one, we are given an even clearer view of their individual personalities and how they all interact with each other. And of course, it was wonderful to see more of Emerick and Tig. I absolutely adore the friendship between the three of them and how they support each other every step of the way. They are definitely one of my favorite character trios ever.

The only, very minor, problem I had with the plotline was the repetitiveness of some of the scenes. There were many instances of Drest arguing her point of not needing to be taken care of—that women can be strong enough to defend themselves, not always requiring protection. This is one of the key aspects of the plot and something that Drest’s father and brothers, as well as other male characters, come to learn through her actions, and it was a huge part of the first novel as well. She consistently shows that she is completely capable of fighting alongside them.

However, it felt like there were a few too many scenes where they stood around debating this instead of escaping their pursuers or working to fight back. All-in-all, it was not a huge issue and did not stray from the main message of the novel in any way. It was very realistic to see the difficulty the male characters had understanding the strength of a woman, particularly in a time where women are seen as maidens who need to be rescued. There were just times where I felt everyone became a bit too hung up on it when there was really no reason for it in those situations.

This series is definitely one that readers of any age will love. It is a wholesome, well-crafted story depicting the bravery and strength one can find within themselves in the toughest circumstances. Drest is a fantastic and inspiring heroine that not only fights for those she loves but also her ideas and confidence in her own abilities. I am unsure whether there are going to be any further novels in this series but, if there are, that would be absolutely wonderful. I would love to spend more time in this world with these beautiful characters. If you have not checked out these novels yet, I would highly recommend giving them a read.

4.5 TARDISes

Author Bio:

15572575Diane Magras is author of The New York Times Editors’ Choice, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, as well as its companion novel, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter. She’s addicted to tea, castles, legends, and most things medieval. She lives in Maine with her husband and son and thinks often of Scotland, where her books are set.

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

February 25 – Teachers Who Read – Interactive Classroom Activity

February 26 – Little Reader – Moodboard

February 27 – RhythmicBooktrovert – Listicle: Top Five Favorite

February 28 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Listicle: Top Favorite Quotes

March 1 – Some the Wiser – Character Recommendations

Week Two: The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter

March 4 – Teachers Who Read – Review

March 5 – Little Reader – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

March 6 – RhythmicBooktrovert – Review

March 7 – The Quirky Booknerd – Review

March 8 – Some the Wiser – Review + Favorite Quotes

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Reviews: Whispers From the Moon by Lee Broda and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Whispers From the Moon by Lee Broda

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 22nd, 2018

Publisher: LB Entertainment LLC

Pages: 128 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Whispers From The Moon is a collection of poetry about
love
loss
grief
heartache
and the empowering of oneself, triumphing over all to celebrate the beauty of life.

It is divided into four chapters corresponding to the phases of the moon: full, waning, eclipse, waxing.

Lee Broda’s poetry is raw and evoking, sometimes dark and painful, while always searching to understand.

With her poetry having already touched thousands, Lee wishes for the reader to know she is never alone in her suffering or in joy. Her wish for him is that he explores the deep, hidden edges of his heart between the wandering words of her soul.

Whispers From The Moon is a companion to all of us in our life’s journeys, encouraging us to live authentically with passion, acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately, love. 

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Broda’s collection of poetry displays a wide range of very relatable emotions centering around both the joy and pain that makes up the fabric of love. The collection is broken up into four different phases of the moon: full, waning, eclipse, and waxing. It is very obvious that she delved quite deeply into her own heart and life experience in order to produce these poems. Unfortunately, this collection just did not appeal to me. One of the main issues I had with it was the fact that I completely failed to connect to much of it. There were many times where I was unable to understand her imagery and what she was going for with a poem’s meaning.

Another issue was that I could not understand why certain poems were connected with the name of the section they fell under, or how they related to any of the other poems within that section. Though she made a big point of breaking the collection up into four phases of the moon, I personally could not find any correlation among the poems within each section. I came away not knowing why exactly she had done this, due to the fact that there did not seem to be a specific theme that linked the poems together.

To me, things felt jumbled and unorganized so it was challenging to follow along. This pulled me out of the reading experience and tore away any connection to the words for me. Overall, it is not a poorly written collection by any means. It was just simply not for me and I’m sure many other readers will take away much more than I did. I applaud Broda for writing down such personal details and emotions and putting them out there for others to read.

2.0 TARDISes

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisoneThe Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #3

Date Published: March 5th, 2019

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 208 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This collection is the third and final installment in a series of poetry collections. Each one tells a story of the strength and resilience of women in a world that does not allow them the equality they deserve. Lovelace uses her own life experience and her personal story throughout the course of the collection. She truly weaves her words and themes together into a tale that is captivating and threaded with raw emotion. Out of the three collections, this one fell in the middle for me in terms of my enjoyment of it.

I absolutely adored the first one and felt such a deep connection to it. She primarily focused on her own life journey, which I found fascinating to read. In the second one, she strayed away from this and, while she did include personal stories, is felt much more general. It was a bit more difficult to connect to on a personal level. This one is a great blend of the two, mixing poems about her experiences with poems that give a broader look at women’s rights and their strength. In all three, she does a beautiful job of demonstrating these themes in a passionate and inspiring way. I really enjoy her work and I cannot wait to read more in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

song of the dead coverSong of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Reign of the Fallen #2

Date Published: January 22nd, 2019

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 416 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Dead must stay buried.

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates.

In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review, however, it may contain spoilers for the previous novel, Reign of the Fallen.

Song of the Dead was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it definitely did not disappoint. I read the first novel in this series at the beginning of last year and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I adored it—though fantasy is by far my favorite genre, certain aspects of the story are a bit out of my usual comfort zone. However, I was hooked right from the start and fell in love with every aspect. It proved to be incredibly refreshing in a genre that can sometimes get to be a bit repetitive, and it truly distinguished itself from the rest. These books are such addicting reads.

This sequel continued to be more of the same and Marsh constantly impressed me with her talent and creativity. It is a journey both physically and emotionally and it carried the reader right along with it. The themes of strength and courage, sadness and resilience, and the tremendous power of love run through this narrative once again. From the beautifully detailed world to the extremely lovable and diverse cast of characters, it is a tale that is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and is sure to stick with you well after turning the final page.

Returning to this world was such a joy and getting to see these characters and their relationships continue to evolve from the last novel was great. So much more dimension is added to an already multifaceted plot. We reconnect with the familiar, but the plot is entirely new and absorbing. Every moment is full of a certain magic with darker and more sinister undercurrents woven throughout. Marsh’s interpretation of necromancy is unique in many ways, which only adds to the intrigue of the narrative. And of course, the animal companions—by far one of the best parts of the story!

Again, the characters ended up being my favorite part of the novel. Marsh approaches diversity in the best way. There is a great deal of representation—particularly LGBT representation—and it makes this novel a fantastic addition to the ever-expanding collection of literature involving these important topics. These elements are not dwelled on or magnified in a way that draws a huge amount of attention. The characters just are who they are, no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. And, as they should be, their differences are completely natural and accepted, both by each other and the reader.

Odessa is an even stronger heroine than in the previous installment and her growth as a character is huge. We see her confronting the painful events in her life, learning and maturing. Her strengths, as well as her flaws, are clearly depicted, which in turn causes her to become an even more multi-dimensional character who is easy to understand and connect with. In fact, this is true of every character. Marsh devotes plenty of time and effort to fleshing them out, making them and their stories incredibly compelling. The romance between Odessa and Meredy begins to really play out and I felt it was executed well—I enjoyed it, and that’s not something I say very often! I thought I would never love anyone quite as much as Evander, who will always be one of my biggest book crushes, but I ended up liking where things went.

Overall, I absolutely love Marsh’s writing and she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She is always so descriptive and vivid, pulling you into the unique world she has created and building it up around you. Her storytelling style is action-packed and fast-paced but never lacking in detail. She is also an absolute master at creating realistic and relatable characters. I will genuinely read anything and everything she writes. Part of me hates to see this series end, but it concluded in an extremely satisfying way. Once again, my reading coincided with some experiences of great loss in my personal life and again it turned out to be very cathartic, the themes of hurting and healing being especially relatable. This story and these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

4.5 TARDISes

Author Bio:

sarahglennmarshSarah Glenn Marsh has been an avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life; she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys painting, ghost hunting, traveling, and all things nerdy.

She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and their menagerie: four rescued greyhounds, a bird, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep and Reign of the Fallen.

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