Audiobook Review: The First Girl Child (The Chronicles of Saylock #1) by Amy Harmon

Title: The First Girl Child (The Chronicles of Saylock #1)
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Romance / Mythology
Publication Date: August 20th, 2019
Publisher: 47North
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

“Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.
Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.
Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.
What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.” (Goodreads)

I feel like this is just what I needed to break up my average rated reads. It reminded me a bit of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, which I enjoyed. So, I am very pleased with this book!

The book is told through third-person narration from multiple point-of-views which I really liked. There are many plot lines at play that all come together and it was cool to see how each character intertwined with another. Bayr and Alba were a favorite pair of mine for obvious reasons. They each wanted what was best for one another and would do anything to remain together. Their dedication was something that I very much admired. Bayr also has a stutter and keeps it throughout the book. The audiobook does a great job with it!

There is romance and it stretched throughout by building a friendship between the two first. The reader gets to see Bayr and Alba from babies all the way up until they are older and ready to take on the challenges they face. It really helped me to connect to them on a deeper level.

One character that was wildly insane was the king. Just wow! Every time he did something I was like, “Oh, it couldn’t get worse…” and he always proved me wrong haha. Even though I very much disliked him, he made the story even better and for that I guess I liked him in a way.

The plot is filled with mythology. runes, an evil king, war, and many other things. I didn’t feel like there was ever a dull moment and I would listen to more than half of the audiobook in one day because of that. Which obviously isn’t a bad thing. It very much kept me engaged.

Overall, this was a great read and I can’t wait to get to the next book!

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Arc Review: The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2) by Stephanie Garber

Title: The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: September 13th, 2022
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Not every love is meant to be…

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.
But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.
Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .” (Goodreads)

Another wild ride from this author! Also, I’m glad to have more Jacks. 😂😍 I wouldn’t say that it was better than the first book, but I obviously enjoyed it a lot so it’s not like that fact matters. I do know that I’m not sure how to cope after reading it.

The book is told from the point-of-view of Evangeline once again. She is our gorgeous heroine who is the opposite of Jacks and wants to see the good in every one, even at the worst times. It definitely puts her at death’s door quite a few times, but it’s still relatable. We all want to see the good in someone even if we know that it can hurt, emotionally or physically.

Jacks is still the villain we love to love! He is arrogant and always has a plan up his sleeve that he doesn’t want to share. Although, we do see a softer side from him at times, and can’t I just say that it melted my heart.

One thing I enjoyed was that there was more background for the fates, Jacks included. It’s easier to understand the fates and make them seem more human. Everything feels like it is coming together and I have clearer mental picture of why everything is the way that it is. I do still have questions but they have lessened.

I think the reason for not liking it as much is because the pacing felt just a bit off? There were a lot of plot twists but the stakes didn’t feel as high as in the first book. Don’t get me wrong, there are high stakes but it just felt different. I still liked what the plot twists had to offer though and I did want to continuously read!

The ending was insane and that’s exactly what I would expect from Garber, haha. She mentioned for reviewers to not mention if there would be more so that is all you get!

Overall, this was another enjoyable read by this author! I have a lot more thoughts but it will have to go in a later post on my blog when people have read this boo, haha.

Book Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Author: Axie Oh
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling / Romance
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

“Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…” (Goodreads)

After reading the book I find the cover to be even more magical than before! The details of everything that fills the pages is amazing and I just want to stare at it all day. 😍

This is one of those reviews that is hard to right. The plot is easy to follow along with and get swept away in, but there is also so much depth to it all! I honestly didn’t think this book would make me cry but I did…multiple times. It’s actually what I needed after being in a slump.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Mina. Under some very unforeseen but selfless circumstances she finds herself beneath the sea and to the spirit realm where the Sea God resides. There is so much to say about Mina. She is brave, fearless, stands up for what she believes in, tries to follow her own path, and so much more! Even through harsh times she doesn’t give up and it is very admiring. It was also easy to relate to her when she talked about the gods not caring and wondering how they can be so cruel. As a Christian it’s hard not to think those same thoughts at times, especially when they world feels like it is in utter chaos. I just really felt that.

The other characters in the book may seem minor at times but I still couldn’t help but enjoy what they had to offer to the story. They were dealing with their own thoughts but still hung to the hope that Mina seemed to bring. Although, some made it harder on themselves and tried to resist, haha.

The romance was pure gold and I stand behind them 100%. I will die on a hill for them. I don’t care! From the first meeting between Mina and him I couldn’t help but sense something and I am so glad it went the way I was hoping but with such a big twist! Ugh, I loved the conversations between them and I probably have way too many quotes from this book saved on my kindle.

But seriously, the plot twists were wonderful and really had me reading on and wanting to finish the book as fast as I could.

Overall, I just adored this one. The more I think about it the more I want to just pick it up again. This author has a way with words and I will continue to pick up every book she writes. I’m glad that I preordered a signed copy with the goodies because now I am going to need every bookish goody I can find for this magical and inspiring book!

P.S. I know my review is kind of vague but I feel like it’s just better to go in knowing as little like I did!

Book Review: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Title: Year of the Reaper
Author: Makiia Lucier
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction / Mystery
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Publisher: Clarion Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

The past never forgets…

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.” (Goodreads)

So, yeah. I loved this one.

I was scared to start this one since I had seen lower rated reviews but was hoping that this would be a gem. And boy, was it! It was one of those where I became enamored by the story from the beginning because the way she writes is amazing.

The book is told from the third person narrative, which is my favorite. It is also a male protagonist that the reader follows and let me just say how wonderful that was. Most of the time in YA Fantasy it is a female protagonist and sometimes we get multiple point-of-views for a female and male, but to just have the male protagonist alone was great. By far one of my favorite characters to read about this year.

Cas has been through a lot since the plague began. He is on a journey home with a new skill and what he left behind isn’t the same anymore. It is easy to feel something for this character. Cas is broken and dealing with PTSD. The last three years of his life haven’t been sunshine and rainbows. It’s been brutally dark. Even though I can’t relate to what he has gone through, I can see how the plague correlates to our own world today and what we have been dealing with for the last couple of years. I wanted to see him rise above his struggles and have a better life. One that he deserved wholeheartedly.

You can use the word resilient when talking about many of the other characters in this book. They want a better world which includes peace between two warring kingdoms and they want to stop the spread of the plague. They accomplish this through many routes and sometimes what you think isn’t always the reality of that action. There is a mystery surrounding some of the plot and it had me hooked. The mystery was a nice touch to this already impressive plot. I got to 60% by bed time and then decided I didn’t need sleep so I kept on going. It was too good to put down.

Usually a book like this would be hard for me to like. Standalones can be iffy especially for the fantasy genre. It also isn’t overly complex when it comes to the plot. But the thing is is that the book didn’t need an overly complex plot. It was easy to follow along, had the right amount of suspense, and it’s filled with great characters that you can’t help but want to know more about. Besides, that ending was adorable and I can’t help but root for the bit of romance we got between two of the characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’m going to talk about it forever so be warned! Now, go read it if you haven’t!