Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2)

Title: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. Alex Stern is back and the Ivy League is going straight to hell in #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent.

Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters.

Review:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern will do anything to bring her mentor Darlington back. Though Lethe, the secret organization, has forbidden Alex and her friend Dawes from embarking on a rescue mission, she won’t let that deter her. Meanwhile, Yale staff members are dying in unusual ways that point to Lethe. Alex has to venture into places no one has gone before to save Darlington, her friends, and everything she calls home. 

I can’t say much about this book without spoilers, but it was worth the 3 year wait. The story was unpredictable and so twisty, I never knew what was going to happen next. There was a little bit of flipping between the past and present in chapters which could be confusing at times, but this happened less than in Ninth House. There were some intense surprises throughout the story that will keep readers entertained!

Hell Bent is a fabulous new Leigh Bardugo book! I can’t wait to read the next one!

What to read next:

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Other books in the series:

Have you read Ninth House? What did you think of it?

Review: Mysteries of Thorn Manor (Sorcery of Thorns #1.5)

Title: Mysteries of Thorn Manor (Sorcery of Thorns #1.5)
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella
Publisher: Margaret K.McElderry Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this sequel novella to Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas must unravel the magical trap keeping them inside Thorn Manor in time for their Midwinter Ball!

Elisabeth Scrivener is finally settling into her new life with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. Now that their demon companion Silas has returned, so has scrutiny from nosy reporters hungry for gossip about the city’s most powerful sorcerer and the librarian who stole his heart. But something strange is afoot at Thorn Manor: the estate’s wards, which are meant to keep their home safe, are acting up and forcibly trapping the Manor’s occupants inside. Surely it must be a coincidence that this happened just as Nathaniel and Elisabeth started getting closer to one another…

With no access to the outside world, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas – along with their new maid Mercy – will have to work together to discover the source of the magic behind the malfunctioning wards before they’re due to host the city’s Midwinter Ball. Not an easy task when the house is filled with unexpected secrets, and all Elisabeth can think about is kissing Nathaniel in peace. But when it becomes clear that the house, influenced by the magic of Nathaniel’s ancestors, requires a price for its obedience, Elisabeth and Nathaniel will have to lean on their connection like never before to set things right.

Review:

In this sequel to Sorcery of Thorns, Nathaniel and Elisabeth are living together at Thorn Manor. They wake up one morning to find the house covered in vines that can’t be removed. As Nathaniel and Elisabeth get closer, the house’s wards misbehave and trap them inside along with Mercy, the new maid, and Silas, their demon companion. They have to figure out how to fix the house before the Midwinter Ball, which they’re supposed to host in 10 days. 

It’s been 3 years since I read Sorcery of Thorns, and I was excited to return to this world in this novella. I really liked that this was a complete short story that gave a glimpse into the lives of these characters after their main story. I’ve read other novellas that follow a series or complete story that don’t have a real or interesting plot. The plot in this story was fun and mysterious, which made me excited to read it. 

Mysteries of Thorn Manor is a great novella!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Other books in the series:

Have you read Mysteries of Thorn Manor? What did you think of it?

Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review:

Assassin Celaena Sardothien is now the King’s Champion, which means she must murder anyone who the King orders her to kill. However, she hasn’t been keeping her promises. She’s sending the men into hiding while she pretends to have murdered them. While on these missions, Celaena discovers an underground group who is trying to take the King down. Meanwhile, her friend Nehemia, a foreign princess, has a target on her back that Celaena isn’t told about. All of these issues lead to a tragic night, where Celaena’s life turns in a new direction. 

I’m so glad that I’m finally reading the Throne of Glass series! It’s fast paced and exciting. There was more magic in this story, which made it unpredictable. I had suspected the final twist based on things I’d heard about the series over the years, but I still enjoyed the ending. 

Crown of Midnight is a great sequel to Throne of Glass!

What to read next:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Other books in the series:

  • Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
  • Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
  • Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
  • Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)
  • Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7)

Have you read Crown of Midnight? What did you think of it?

Review: VAMPS: Fresh Blood

Title: VAMPS: Fresh Blood
Author: Nicole Arend
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: January 3, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sink your teeth into this exciting new paranormal series that transports you to an elite vampire academy where a half vampire, half human must hone his bloodthirsty side in order to survive in a cutthroat world. Perfect for fans of The Atlas Sixand True Blood. 

Nestled in the Swiss Alps, VAMPS is the ultimate academy for the children of the most wealthy and powerful vampire families. Unfortunately for Dillon, he’s an outsider—to be more specific, he’s a dhampir: a vampire that is half human.

If he wants to survive more than a single term, he’s going to need to embrace his fangs. But blood never lies and soon, it becomes clear there is something special and deadly in Dillon’s veins. But as his power grows, so does the target on his back…

Review:

VAMPS is an elite boarding school for the children of the wealthiest and most powerful vampires. Dillon is sent there, with no knowledge of vampires because he was recently told that he’s a dhampir, half human and half vampire. He lived with his human father but he never knew his vampire mother. He is the first dhampir to be admitted to the academy. Though he feels left out at the beginning, it soon becomes clear that there is something special about Dillon’s dhampir blood. The power that Dillon has puts a target on his back, so he has to do whatever it takes to survive. 

If you like vampire boarding school stories, you’ll love this one! There were a lot of students in Dillon’s year, so it took a while to figure out how to distinguish between them. They all had distinct personalities and goals though, so by the end, they were easy to tell apart. 

I was really surprised at the twists at the end. There was quite a cliffhanger so I can’t wait to read the next book!

VAMPS: Fresh Blood is a great vampire story!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Crave by Tracy Wolff

Have you read VAMPS: Fresh Blood? What did you think of it?

Review: The Devil’s Music (The Montague Twins #2)

Title: The Devil’s Music (The Montague Twins #2)
Author: Nathan Page and Drew Shannon
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 25, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Hardy Boys meets Paper Girls in the second volume of this mystery series featuring teen detectives, witches, and now a mystery rock ‘n’ roll song capable of a sinister, Pied Piper-like hypnosis.

Alastair, Pete, Charlie, and Rachel aren’t just magical teen detectives in their coastal town of Port Howl–they are also members of a local teen rock band. Before a show one night, Charlie and Rachel meet a famous rockstar, Gideon, and invite him to their show. He’ll never come, but why not try, right?

Little do they know, Gideon does show up, and he brings the threads of his dark past with him. In fact, he might even be the source of the rumored Devil’s Music, a limited-release song that entrances all of its listeners in a deadly hypnosis.

When Pete quickly gets drawn into Gideon’s web, it’s up to his brother and friends to save him. But Pete might not be the only Montague Twin at risk for Gideon’s spell…

Review:

Pete, Al, Charlie, and Rachel are magic teenage detectives in Port Howl. They also have a band. On the night of their first performance, Charlie and Rachel meet the rockstar Gideon. They invite him to hang out with them, but he brings secrets from his dark past with him. There’s a dark power in his music, and they have to figure out how to stop it before it’s too late. 

This graphic novel was even better than the first one. The first book did a lot of world building and setting the scene, so this one could jump right into the mystery. It was creepy and suspenseful, and it kept me guessing until the end.

The Devil’s Music is a great graphic novel! I hope there will be more books in this series!

Thank you Penguin Teen Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Devil’s Music? What did you think of it?

Review: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Review:

Kate Harker will do anything to get her father’s attention so he will bring her back home, including burning down her school’s chapel. Her father brings her back to the divided city of Verity where he allows the monsters to roam free and has humans pay for his protection. Meanwhile, August Flynn is the “son” of the ruler of the other half of the city. August is a monster, with the power to steal a soul with a violin song. When the Flynn family find out that Kate will be attending school in the city, they send August to masquerade as a student and get close to her. However, power is shifting in their city. When Kate’s life is put in danger, August has to put his secret at risk to figure out who is trying to kill them. 

This was such a thrilling and suspenseful story. It was an original and complex world. A lot of the rules and history of the world weren’t described until halfway through the story. I would have liked to learn that earlier so I could really understand the world. I still really enjoyed this story!

This Savage Song is a great story! I can’t wait to read the sequel!

What to read next:

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • Our Dark Duet

Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think of it?

Review: Blood Orange (The Dracula Duet #1)

Title: Blood Orange (The Dracula Duet #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Karina Halle
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 16, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Once there was a man who fell deeply in love with a woman he could never have. When their affair was uncovered she was brutally murdered in front of him, and he discovered he was cursed, doomed to live forever as a vampire.

Over the centuries, he found his love again, and lost her again, until he was so broken he gave up on love entirely, sinking into the depths of depravity, losing his humanity.

Then one day, she came back into his life. A student of music studying under him at the conservatory in Venice, Italy where he was a professor. But even though he found her beautiful and intriguing, he didn’t recognize his fated mate at all.

Because this time she had to hide her true self.

This time she came back as a witch, whose destiny wasn’t to love him…but to kill him.

Blood Orange is a modern-day Dracula retelling about the “real-life” Dracula that inspired Bram Stoker. This is a dark vampire romance with plenty of content warnings (check interior of book for CW) and while it is a spinoff of The Dark Eyes Duet, it can be read as a standalone. It was previously referred to as “King of Darkness”

Review:

Dahlia Abernathy is a witch who has been trained to be a vampire hunter. Her goal is to pretend to be a music student and kill Professor Valtu Aminoff, the vampire who inspired Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. However, Dahlia didn’t expect to fall in love with him. Dahlia disguises her appearance under a glamour, so that Valtu can’t see that she’s actually a witch. Valtu also can’t see through her disguise that Dahlia is actually the reincarnated version of his first loves who died tragically. Their love is put to the ultimate test when they discover the truth and have to decide if history will repeat itself. 

This was an intense story. It was spicy and bloody. There were some quite graphic scenes that were difficult to read. I highly recommend checking the content warnings before reading this book. 

Though it was a graphic story, I absolutely loved the ending. I love the idea of history repeating itself, particularly when someone is reincarnated through different time periods. This story ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m glad the sequel will be out on December 31!

Blood Orange is a spicy and intense story!

What to read next:

Black Rose (The Dracula Duet #2) by Karina Halle

Other books in the series:

  • Black Rose

Have you read Blood Orange? What did you think of it?

Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 2, 2012
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Review:

Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, living in a prison, when she’s summoned to the palace. She will compete with twenty-three other killers, thieves, and warriors to become the king’s champion. Celaena looks like a weak girl, but she’s been through a lot and is stronger than she looks. She’s protected and coached by the Crown Prince, Dorian, and the head of the king’s guard, Chaol. However, soon after the competition starts, the competitors are killed off one by one in mysterious circumstances. Something is out to get the competitors, and Celaena needs to figure out how to survive and win her freedom. 

This is actually my second time reading Throne of Glass. I read it for the first time years ago, but for some reason, I didn’t remember anything that happened. I’m so glad I decided to reread it because now I’m hooked and need to know what happens next. 

I’m really looking forward to continuing the series in the new year! I can already tell this will be one of my favourites.

What to read next:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Other books in the series:

  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • Queen of Shadows
  • Empire of Storms
  • Tower of Dawn
  • Kingdom of Ash

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think of it?

Review: Witcha Gonna Do? (Witchington #1)

Title: Witcha Gonna Do? (Witchington #1)
Author: Avery Flynn
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An unlucky witch and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy series from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.

Could it possibly get any worse than having absolutely no magical abilities when you’re a member of the most powerful family of witches ever? It used to be that I’d say no, but then I keep getting set up on dates with Gil Connolly whose hotness is only matched by his ego. Seriously. I can’t stand him. Even if I also can’t stop thinking about him (specifically kissing him) but we’re going to pretend I never told you that part.

So yeah, my life isn’t the greatest right now, but then it goes straight to the absolute worst hell when I accidentally make my sister’s spell glitch and curse my whole family. And the only person who can help non-magical me break the spell? You guessed it. Gil the super hot jerk. 

Now we have to work together to save my family and outmaneuver some evil-minded nefarious forces bent on world domination. Oh yeah, and we have to do all that while fighting against the attraction building between us because I may not be magical, but what’s happening between Gil and I sure feels like it.

Review:

Tilda Sherwood is part of a large magical family, but she doesn’t have any magic. She keeps getting set up on dates by her godmother, and every date is with the same guy: Gil Connolly. He’s gorgeous but annoying, and Tilda can’t stop thinking about him. One day when Tilda’s sister is doing a spell, Tilda interferes with it, and something goes wrong, freezing her entire family in ice. Since Tilda doesn’t have magic, she has to go to Gil for help. They have to find a spell to unfreeze her family, while also fighting the growing attraction between them. 

This was such a fun rom com! Tilda is a bit of an outcast, being surrounded by magic but unable to use it herself. Gil has secrets of his own that add a lot of tension to the story when he has to lie and keep them from Tilda. 

The epilogue was so good. There’s a lot of potential for future stories about other characters. I can’t wait to read the next book!

Thank you Berkley for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin

Have you read Witcha Gonna Do? What did you think of it?

Review: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)

Title: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: self-published
Source: Author
Format: Physical arc
Release Date: January 27, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen’s estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna’s busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father’s body is missing, that’s when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna’s beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he’ll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna’s might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.

Review:

When 24-year-old Hanna Heikkinen’s father dies suddenly, she travels to Finland for his funeral. Soon after arriving, she discovers that his casket is empty. A young man named Rasmus tells her that her father didn’t actually die, but that he’s a powerful shaman who went into the Realm of the Dead to try and save his own life. Her father is being held captive by the God of Death, and the only way to save him is for Hanna to travel to the Realm of the Dead with Rasmus. They travel along the River of Shadows, until Hanna is captured by the God of Death. She volunteers to stay as his prisoner in exchange for her father being let go. Death likes Hanna and wants to make her his wife, but she doesn’t expect to develop feelings for him. 

This was such a wild story! I was hooked right from the start. I liked Hanna right away and I was rooting for her. There were lots of twists, that kept me in suspense throughout the story. I loved the “Beauty and the Beast” plot that the story followed, since that is my favourite fairytale. The romance became quite steamy towards the end, which was fun. 

The only thing I wondered about was what life Hanna was missing when she went into the Realm of Death. She didn’t really give much thought to the people in her old life who would be missing her and wondering where she went. The story ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m glad the next book is already out for me to read soon!

River of Shadows is a great steamy romance! 

Thank you Karina Halle for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Crown of Crimson by Karina Halle

Other books in the series:

  • Crown of Crimson (Underworld Gods #2)

Have you read River of Shadows? What did you think of it?