BOOK REVIEW: Gods & Monsters – Shelby Mahurin

Title: Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove #3)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Rating: ★★★★

After the disappointment of Blood & Honey, I went into this book with a fair bit of apprehension. I’ll be honest that I started reading without any sort of expectations, and because of that I found myself pleasantly surprised when I realized I was really enjoying the book. Gods & Monsters brought back everything readers loved about the first book–the fast-paced plot, action, romantic tension and angst, high stakes and magical battles–and in doing so became the perfect conclusion to this trilogy!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Prison Healer – Lynette Noni ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

Title: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)
Author: Lynette Noni
Rating: ★★★★½

First Realm Breaker, and now The Prison Healer. These two books are single handedly restoring my faith and enjoyment in YA Fantasy. I had absolutely no expectations going into this. It was never a book on my radar, but I kept seeing positive reviews of it on Goodreads and decided to take a chance and request a hold at my library. Best decision ever.

Kiva has been imprisoned in the notoriously dangerous Zalindov prison since she was child. Now working as the prison’s healer, she goes about her life trying to survive one day at a day while holding out hope that her family will come for her.

The Prison Healer is a fast-paced, compelling story that had me flying through the pages. The story is full of political intrigue, uprisings, and survival. The plot was extremely well constructed and I was so impressed by all the small connections between different elements and reveals. Although there’s only one setting throughout the book–Zalindov prison–the world was very well developed. There’s also magic system that begins to come in play midway through the book and I thought its subtle introduction was smartly written.

All of the characters are likable and compelling. Kiva is our protagonist and I absolutely loved her determination, caring nature, and practical mind. She made an excellent heroine and I am so excited about her path in the next book. The Prison Healer also has a cast of side characters important to the story and I have not one bad word about any of them.

The ending of The Prison Healer had me shook. I had about ten different predictions of where the direction of the next book would go and not a single one predicted that twist. The ending is actually the second major twist int he story and the fact that I was completely bamboozled by both is what made the book even more enjoyable as I love being caught off guard!

The Prison Healer deserves all of the hype it has been getting. Political intrigue, rebellions, magical tournaments, and a strong female lead at the center of it all makes this book a truly excellent story. Highly recommend for an fan of YA Fantasy or looking for a fun, fast-paced read!

ARC REVIEW: The Devil Makes Three – Tori Bovalino ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

Title: The Devil Makes Three
Author: Tori Bovalino
Rating: ★★★★½

Thank you to Page Street Kids for providing me with an ARC through NetGalley!

The Devil Makes Three promised dark academia and demons, and I am more than happy to report that it delivered on that promise! The eerie, atmospheric setting, descriptive writing, and compelling characters all come together to form a very impressive and thrilling read.

Tess is spending her summer working as the library assistant at her new boarding school. There she meets Eliot, a privileged posh student, and circumstances give her no other option than to allow him access to the off-limits grimoires hidden beneath the library. When the two of them accidentally release a demon, they must work together to save themselves and their loved ones.

The aesthetic of The Devil Makes Three is absolutely perfect. Tori Bovalino manages to seamlessly blend elements of contemporary, paranormal, and horror together to create a haunting story that can best be described as dark and creepy. The vivid storytelling makes it exceedingly easy to find yourself transported into the story.

The Devil Makes Three will give you chills, in all the right ways. This book is perfect for readers who enjoy dark academia, battling demonic powers, and eerie settings.

BOOK REVIEW: Realm Breaker – Victoria Aveyard ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Title: Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker #1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Rating: ★★★★★

I’ll admit I had a lot of assumptions going into this and I was not expecting to fully love it as much as I did. Realm Breaker went above and beyond anything I had thought this book was going to be and I’m so glad I gave into my curiosity and decided to pick this one up because wow. What an amazing start to a brand new fantasy series by Victoria Aveyard.

“An immortal Veder, a Jydi witch, a copper-eyed assassin, a royal squire, a criminal fugitive, and the pirate’s daughter, the Ward’s hope. What a mess we are.”

I don’t even know where to begin with my review because there are so many things about Realm Breaker that were impressive and want to sing praises to. In the past year, I’ve started to move away from YA fantasy because they stopped giving me the thrill and excitement that they had in the past and I’ve been struggling to enjoy them as much. Realm Breaker is a YA fantasy, and yet it didn’t feel like one when I was reading. And I think a lot of that had to do with the ages of the characters. Within our main group of protagonists we have two teenagers, an adult, and an immortal. I felt a connection with all four of them, which honestly made such a difference.

Corayne – the secret teenage daughter of the (presumed) last heir of an ancient lineage and a pirate. Because of her ancestry, she has the blood necessary to basically save the world. No pressure.

Andry – a young squire who is just doing his best. He’s polite, soft, and honest. Like, he’s helping the others literally out of the goodness of his heart and because it’s the right thing to do.

Sorasa – the Amhara assassin. She’s tough, smart, and a complete badass. I really felt a connection with her character (and not just because we’re of the same age) and absolutely loved her. She’s definitely my favorite character right now. She definitely has a softer side to her and heart of gold and I cannot wait to learn more about her.

“The assassin did not enjoy being hemmed in by anything, let alone teenagers.”

Domacridhan – the immortal warrior. He comes across as a big, brooding brute of a man but is actually a total softie. His interactions and bickering with Sorasa deserve a sixth star all on their own.

“I can’t imagine living for a thousand years and still being so stupid,” she said, tearing his tunic at the wound. “It’s almost an accomplishment.”

Erida – the antagonist/anti-heroine. The young queen of Galland who is constantly being looked down upon because of her age and gender. She forms a marriage alliance with Taristan, our book’s villain. Although I want her to “lose” in the grand scheme of things, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of her development and her growing relationship with Taristan. 

“Take your sword and bleed for me, and I will bleed for you. Win us the crown our ancestors could only dream of.”

Multi-POVs are typically hit or miss with me, but more often than not they end up taking away from my total enjoyment of a book. Especially books that are this large and have more than three POVs. Realm Breaker is probably the first book is a long time that I enjoyed reading each and every POV. I wasn’t bored by any chapter, I wasn’t skimming chapters to get back to my favorite characters, I wasn’t struggling to power through a 500+ novel. I savored every word, every sentence, every page. The story has six different POVs and each one was not only important, but added significantly to the story.

The writing was fantastic. Victoria Aveyard is such a talented author. The worldbuilding in Realm Breaker was amazing. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized I understood everything about the world and magic without it ever having been explicitly explained. That is such a rare and magnificent talent to possess and really showcases how well she can write. There were no info dumps or long passages of explanations. The reader develops an understanding of the world simply through descriptions, dialogue, and the characters’ inner monologues.

If you’re like me, you wondering how much romance the book includes. While there is no actually romance, there are definitely some hints as to what is to come in future books and honestly those hints were more than enough to hold me over! First of all, we have whatever is brewing between our two villains, Erida and Taristan. They have a marriage of convenience right now but I can guarantee it will not remain that way. Next, we have our two young teenagers, Corayne and Andry. There were some really sweet moments between them and I can’t help but hope something blooms there as well. And finally, if all that bickering and bantering between Dom and Sorasa doesn’t eventually become a form of foreplay for them, I will riot.

Corayne suspected he would care very much. After all, Sorasa had called him a stupid, stubborn ass. Although, she thought, my translation might not be accurate. The Ibalet words for stupid and handsome are quite similar.

Realm Breaker was nothing short of phenomenal. I was nervous about reading it for a few reasons: the length, the fact that it was extremely hyped, the multi-POVs. It was clear from the start that I was going to love it completely. This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year and I’m so excited for the next books in this series!

ARC REVIEW: A Dragonbird in the Fern – Laura Rueckert ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

Title: A Dragonbird in the Fern
Author: Laura Rueckert
Rating: ★★½

ARC provided by Flux through NetGalley.

The premise of A Dragonbird in the Fern sounds amazing and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, a majority of the story fell flat and therefore it didn’t end up meeting my expectations.

The book has such an interesting plot: Princess Jiara must marry her deceased sister’s fiancé, the king of foreign country, meanwhile attempting to figure out who murdered her sister. Like, could that synopsis sound any cooler? The biggest issue is that a lot of the story didn’t feel fully fleshed out. The characters felt pretty one dimensional and could have used some more development. Plotwise, nothing really happens until the last quarter and by then it became predictable and a little rushed.

A Dragonbird in the Fern had such potential but fell pretty flat. There were still aspects that I enjoyed in the book, such as Jiara and Raffar’s relationship and the language barrier, but for the most part it was predictable and forgettable.