Review: Kingdom Of The Cursed

book review, Fiction

Title: Kingdom Of The Cursed
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Kingdom Of The Wicked, Book Two
Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

One sister.
Two sinful princes.
Infinite deception with a side of revenge . . . Welcome to Hell.


After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.

She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria . . . even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.

The first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. With back-stabbing princes, luxurious palaces, mysterious party invitations, and conflicting clues about who really killed her twin, Emilia finds herself more alone than ever before. Can she even trust Wrath, her one-time ally in the mortal world . . . or is he keeping dangerous secrets about his true nature? 

Emilia will be tested in every way as she seeks a series of magical objects that will unlock the clues of her past and the answers she craves . . .
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

After Kingdom Of The Wicked, I devoured this book. Once again, this audiobook was narrated by the talented Marisa Calin. When Emilia bound herself to the devil in order to gain access to the Underworld to find the answers she needed about her sister’s killer, she is tested beyond anything she imagined. 

Not only does she have to endure the test of sins to show her which vice matches closest with hers, but she has to endure those tests with Wrath as her escort. She feels betrayed, rightfully so. And she doesn’t know if she can trust anything she thought she knew about him. 

But as the story unfolds, actions speak louder than words. And though Wrath isn’t exactly nice about some of the things he does to help Emilia, he does prepare her for what awaits her. 

Given the ending of this book and Emilia’s ultimate decision, I CANNOT wait until the final book of this series is released to find out how this story ends. 

One last thought: While this was a YA fantasy romance, there was actually a lot more steam and descriptions than I anticipated — but this wasn’t by any means a deterrent. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Kingdom Of The Wicked

book review, Fiction

Title: Kingdom Of The Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Kingdom Of The Wicked, Book One
Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost–even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden. 

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked–princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Marisa Calin and I LOVED it!

I’ve seen a few bad reviews about Emilia not turning to her grandmother for help — but I understood why she didn’t do this. 

Their entire lives, Emilia and Vittoria’s grandmother lied to them about their magic — especially the prophecy that they were part of. All they knew was not to trust the Wicked, demons that inhabited the Underworld. Most of all: NEVER trust a prince. 

After being kept in the dark, Emilia feels like she can’t rely on her grandmother to help her or to be honest with her when it came to finding her sister’s killer. 

This is why she summons the Underworld’s Prince of Wrath — because he represented the sin she most needed in her quest.

I liked how she was careful with her interactions while dealing with the Wicked, and that she didn’t rely on Wrath or any of his six other brothers (named for their sins) to help her. But, when she truly needed the help, even though she never asked for it, Wrath was there. And thus, their unlikely alliance began. 

The narrator was fantastic and the story was awesome as well. As soon as I finished listening, I dove into Kingdom of the Cursed, needing to know what came next. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Rogue, Prisoner, Princess

book review, Fiction

Title: Rogue, Prisoner, Princess
Author: Morgan Rice
Series: Of Crowns And Glory, Book Two
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Seventeen year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl from the Empire city of Delos, finds herself forced, by royal decree, to fight in the Stade, the brutal arena where warriors from all corners of the world come to kill each other. Pitted against ferocious opponents, her chances of survival are slim. Her only chance lies in drawing on her innermost powers, and making the transition, once and for all, from slave to warrior.

Eighteen year old Prince Thanos wakes on the isle of Haylon to discover he has been stabbed in the back by his own people, left for dead on the blood-soaked beach. Captured by the rebels, he must crawl his way back to life, find who tried to assassinate him, and seek his revenge.

Ceres and Thanos, a world apart, have not lost their love for each other; yet the Empire court teems with lies, betrayal and duplicity, and as jealous royals weave intricate lies, they each, in a tragic misunderstanding, are led to believe the other is dead. The choices they make will determine each other’s fate.

Will Ceres survive the Stade and become the warrior she was meant to be? Will Thanos heal and discover the secret being withheld from him? Will the two of them, forced apart, find each other again?
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wayne Farrell. After the events in book one and subsequent cliffhanger, I wanted to know what happened next. I spent a credit on Audible to listen to this book and I regret it. 

Perhaps it was some of the characters’ inherent idiocy. But most of all, I spent the entirety of the book waiting for the reunion of Ceres and Prince Thanos. This never happened. Ceres didn’t even realize the prince was still alive.

And Thanos. 

The prince was all-in for Ceres and wanted to marry her, despite all the political issues, dangers, and duties. When he finally returns to his home, he accepts that Ceres was gone for good and his former dislike and distrust of Princess Stephania suddenly disappears and he decides it’s fine to both trust and love her. I thought the boy was smarter than that. 

By the time the end came along, I was done. I could only imagine several more books of Thanos and his infuriating relationship with Stephania growing. Meanwhile, Ceres, with this inexplicable magical power, would continue to not know what to do with herself than fight blindly back against the crown. 

Despite the talents of the narrator, this wasn’t enough to overcome the disappointment in the story.  It’s not something I want to continue. However, I may try out a different series from Rice. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: A Breath Of Sunlight

book review, Fiction

Title: A Breath Of Sunlight
Author: Sydney Winward
Series: Sunlight And Shadows, Book One
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

One prince. One Valkyrie. A kingdom to save.
 
Don’t show compassion for men. Never save a man’s life. And no matter what, never fall in love with someone you must ultimately kill. But some rules are meant to be broken, even if it means risking your life by betraying your valkyrie sisters.
 
The plan was simple—attack the Pits, kill the men, save the women. But when Skaja runs into a fae man she can’t kill, she instead breaks all the rules to save him. 
 
Prince Calle was sold into slavery by his jealous brother, and he would do anything to taste freedom again, even put his trust in a dangerous valkyrie. To protect his people and gain the throne, he and Skaja must trust each other. But neither of them expected trust to turn into something more, and the cost of love has a much steeper price than either of them anticipated.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

After joining a book group of fellow readers and writers on Twitter, this was February’s read and I was happy to dive in and read it. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I very much enjoyed the story, characters, and writing. Often, I found I wanted to slow down, because I didn’t want the world I was experiencing to end. 

Calle and Skaja had such great chemistry, and I especially liked how blunt and witty Skaja was as a harpy Valkyrie. Despite being taught to hate and distrust men, she finds that Calle is nothing like the men she was taught about as she grew up. 

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series!


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Slave, Warrior, Queen

book review, Fiction

Title: Slave, Warrior, Queen
Author: Morgan Rice
Series: Of Crowns And Glory, Book One
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Seventeen year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl in the Empire city of Delos, lives the harsh and unforgiving life of a commoner. By day she delivers her father’s forged weapons to the palace training grounds, and by night she secretly trains with them, yearning to be a warrior in a land where girls are forbidden to fight. With her pending sale to slavehood, she is desperate. 

Eighteen year old Prince Thanos despises everything his royal family stands for. He abhors their harsh treatment of the masses, especially the brutal competition – The Killings – that lies at the heart of the city. He yearns to break free from the restraints of his upbringing, yet he, a fine warrior, sees no way out. 

When Ceres stuns the court with her hidden powers, she finds herself wrongfully imprisoned, doomed to an even worse life than she could imagine. Thanos, smitten, must choose if he will risk it all for her. Yet, thrust into a world of duplicity and deadly secrets, Ceres quickly learns there are those who rule, and those who are their pawns. And that sometimes, being chosen is the worst that can happen. 
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wayne Farrell. I was in between books and found this at my library’s e-catalogue. Since it was a shorter book, I knew I could listen within a few days. 

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d even like it, but I was pleasantly surprised at the narrator’s talent for handling all the action and third-person perspective. It didn’t take long for me to get into the story — this is possibly due to the chemistry between Ceres and Prince Thanos. By the time the book ended, I was intrigued and wanted to know what happened next.


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: The Witch And The Wolf

book review, Fiction

Title: The Witch And The Wolf
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, a novella
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Mother will find me…

Beneath the moonlight, Cara gathers poisons for the mother she cannot escape from,
but what if there was more to life than the darkness she was raised in?

Love is never for witches like Cara, and soon she must decide what her freedom is worth and what she is willing to sacrifice. 

After all, what are hearts for, if not for keeping behind glass?
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

After reading Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still, and Far Beneath The Wicked Woods, this one didn’t disappoint.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Novellas are tricky. The truly good ones are often lamented simply because they aren’t longer. Now that means I’ve read everything that’s available for this series. And that’s a sad reality for me. 

I do hope Russell will expand upon this series, but if not, I’m happy to have experienced it. 

But back to the book. We follow Cara and her interactions with an unnamed boy (read: young adult male faerie). Turns out this book takes place quite a while before the main series. Russell never explicitly says in the book that Lathaniel is the toddler with a woman Cara helped while giving birth, but the violet eyes and Cara’s home with her mother give it away. 

Being a daughter of one of Faerie’s most notorious witches isn’t easy. Cara lives in constant fear of her mother and for good reason. Having a fence around your house made of bones and harpsichords made out of entrails is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The book ends rather abruptly, but it wasn’t without merit. There was a buildup and the constant worries and passage of time only made the ending inevitable. 

I do like how it ended. It wasn’t a perfect ending, but it was a chance at a future. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Far Beneath The Wicked Woods

book review, Fiction

Title: Far Beneath The Wicked Woods
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 3
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

I will come for you…

The last Mortal Queen of Seelie, Teya Jenkins holds a tentative grip on the faeries that bow before her. But the throne beside her remains empty, her husband still a prisoner of the unforgiving Unseelie Court. Almost two midwinters have passed, and if she does not find away to rescue him from Phabian’s clutches, there may not be anything left to save.

I will fight for you…

Deep within the Labyrinth of the Unseelie, Laphaniel fights to keep his sanity as the darkness and shadows close around him. Yet things are stirring amongst the dark, and Laphaniel finds his fate tangled up with the one he loathes above all others.

I will bring you home.

The shadows bow to Niven’s whims, the Court of Unseelie bows too. While her king slips further into madness, Niven revels in the power she holds over her court. But, as the blood runs over the black walls of the Unseelie, can Niven keep the crown upon her head?

Love and death and chaos. Let the world burn.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

Picking up after the events of Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, and Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still, this one is full of heavy prices to pay.

Goodness me! This book did not disappoint. In fact, I found myself itching to read it at my every opportunity, even if it was only a paragraph at a time. 

In order to keep this review spoiler free, I can’t divulge many details, but what I can say is that I love how strong and determined Teya and Lathaniel are in their journey. They each make sacrifices and try to make the best of a seemingly hopeless situation. That’s admirable. 

The redemption arc for Niven was a welcome change. It was good to see that she wasn’t devoid of all emotion. 

And the climax. Holy hells was that intense. The stakes just kept piling higher and higher and I thought for sure BAD things were coming. Worse than things already were. 

I was so pleased with how this book ended. It was all wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and I’ll be happy to come back to relive the story again and again. 


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still

book review, Fiction

Title: Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 2
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

With an ancient curse now broken, Teya Jenkins, the last Mortal Queen of Seelie, is forced to flee the cruel lands of Faerie and return home.

But the human world offers little kindness to her, or to the faerie who stole her heart. 
Help is offered by those who dwell in the shadows, but nothing in Faerie is without a price. 

With a new King upon the Unseelie throne, and a would-be Queen at her back, Teya must decide which path to take and who to trust or risk losing everything. 

Oh, the woods are dark and wicked.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

Picking up after the events of Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods, Teya and Lathaniel are on the run, trying to find a way to confront the cruel and murderous faerie, Luthien. 

In order to survive, they’re forced to make an alliance that could just as easily signal their deaths. With every new turn, they face unknown threats and are forced to make impossible decisions, but they do have one constant between them — each other.

This was a tumultuous book full of twists and turns and I loved every minute of it. The cliffhanger at the end hit me hard, and yet, at the same time, it felt inevitable — which is a testament to L. V. Russell’s storytelling abilities.

I can’t wait to finish Far Beneath The Wicked Woods to find out what happens next.


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah

Review: Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods

book review, Fiction

Title: Darling, There Are Wolves In The Woods
Author: L. V. Russell
Series: The Wicked Woods Chronicles, book 1
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Romance
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

The woods are dark and wicked,
and perhaps some things would be better off staying lost…

Teya Jenkins is ten years old when her sister is taken. Niven is never found, because no one knows where to look.

No one but Teya that is, who heard the whispers of the trees and saw the beautiful creatures that dwelled in the shadows.

It is only after another tragedy, years later, that Teya finally dares to enter the forest that haunts her dreams, determined to bring home her sister and mend the fractured remains of her family.

Beneath the whispering oaks, she meets Laphaniel, an outcast from the Seelie Court, who tempts her away with veiled promises of the thing she’s always longed for…to belong somewhere.

But Laphaniel has secrets of his own, and Teya soon finds herself fighting not only for her life, and for her sister, but also for her heart. 

A sensual, dark faerie tale, full of delicious romance and delightful gothic imagery.
(Amazon)


My Thoughts:

I’ve never been one to judge a book by its cover, but when I saw this book, I stopped. The cover isn’t just beautiful, but the title is quite striking as well.

Upon reading the synopsis, I was ready to buy the ebook and dive in to those wicked woods. And it did not disappoint. 

I’ve never minded whether a book has first- or third-person perspective, but I’ve always found that the immersion into a story is that much deeper in first. To my surprise and delight, this gem of a book was a portal into a new life. 

Becoming Teya Jenkins took a matter of minutes. She’s a firecracker, but stuck in a life she can no longer stand. Using this as her fuel to overcome her fear if the woods she enters a new realm full of dangerous, beautiful things. Only a strike of luck saves her life, and thrusts her into Laphaniel’s life, the outcast from Seelie court, striking a series of events that would change them both. 

It was amazing, learning about the various creatures that lived in Faerie and all the magic that was infused into the world through Teya’s eyes. The world-building was pristine, and the action kept coming as she and Lephaniel begin to rely on one another. By the time I reached The End, I needed to know more. 

Teya was a strong, yet flawed heroine, and she challenged Lephaniel at every turn, just as he challenged her. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about a new, captivating world and getting to know multi-faceted, complex characters. And I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

UPDATE: Reviews for Hush, The Woods Are Darker Still; Far Beneath The Wicked Woods; and The Witch And The Wolf are now available.


Happy reading!

Until next time,
Sarah