Book Review: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

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Title: The Dragon Republic
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Aug. 6th, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. I have also read this again on my own accord.

“The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.” (Goodreads)

Sometimes it is hard for sequels to live up to the first book. I had high hopes for this book because I fell in love with the characters and the writing of the author. Let me tell you, this book exceeded my expectations!

Rin finds herself in the aftermath of war. She is filled with emotions because of it and at times those emotions lead her to make some poor decisions. Grief and loss are powerful things to deal with. Throughout the book she is developing more and more because of what she has gone through and the knowledge she comes to know. It makes her a stronger person and helps her create bonds with the ones who have always been at her side.

Characters from the first book come back and new characters are also introduced. I loved the development of some that didn’t get much page time in the first. I also enjoyed Vaisra who at times becomes the voice of reason for Rin.

As for the plot, it is dark, bloody, and full of battles on land and sea. It is heartbreaking, raw, and draws you in. I wouldn’t expect anything else from this series. It takes a lot to get through but it is such a thought provoking series that I think everyone should read.

I will be anxiously waiting for the third book in the series. If you haven’t picked up The Poppy War yet, go read it so you can pick up The Dragon Republic!

Book Review: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

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Title: A Reaper at the Gates
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Publisher:  Razorbill




Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.” (Goodreads)

Edit: I have now read this a second time and my feelings are still true when it comes to this review. I never knew I could cry again for a book I had already read. The last 100 pages were just torture to get through with my feelings! Haha.

*Spoilers* To be honest, I feel sorry for Marcus. He may have done some bad things but I think by the end he had good intentions when it came to being Emperor. I still hate Keris and I hope she gets what she deserves! *End of Spoilers*

A Reaper at the Gates begins where A Torch against the Night left off. There are threats to the Empire and Laia, Helene, and Elias will stop at nothing to do their jobs and fight against the destruction the Nightbringer is determine to bring.

Laia is as strong as ever and is doing anything in her power to save her people. She has already lost so much and yet she still fights no matter what. She has really grown from the first book and I am here for it. Her brother, Darin, hasn’t played too big of a role but I am sure that will change in the next book. As for Elias, I am still heartbroken from what happened in the second and now am even more heartbroken by the path he has taken and what he has left behind. When it comes to Helene, I didn’t really care for her in the first book and she got better in the second but she has now grown on me and I ship her and Harper!

The plot grows and there is no shortage of fighting and heartbreak. We learn more about the Nightbringer and the jinn and am curious to see how his plot plays out in the next book. He is a very curious individual and I need more of him!

When I thought the series couldn’t break me anymore, Sabaa Tahir just crushes whatever was left. I may have shed a few tears and now I am just at a loss for words and can’t wait to see what happens in the fourth book, hopefully my heart will manage. If you haven’t read the series go do it!

E-Arc Review: Daughter of the Serpentine (Dragoneer Academy #2) by E.E. Knight

Title: Daughter of the Serpentine (Dragoneer Academy #2)
Author: E.E. Knight
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.




“As a young dragoneer moves through the ranks of the prestigious Serpentine Academy, her challenges grow greater and her time grows short to draw out a series of deadly threats, in this thrilling coming-of-age fantasy novel.

Sixteen-year-old Ileth is now an Apprentice Dragoneer, with all of the benefits and pitfalls that her elevation in rank entails. But her advancement becomes less certain after a she’s attacked by an unknown enemy, and Ileth begins to suspect that someone deadly may be hiding within the walls of the academy.

Outside of the walls there is a different challenge. The Rari Pirates are strangling the Vale Republic. What they lack in dragon firepower, they make up for in the brutality of their ever-expanding raids, making hostages or slaves of the Republic’s citizens. Surrounded by enemies, Ileth will need to learn what kind of dragoneer she wants to be. And as she makes decisions about her future, Ileth will have the chance to uncover the secrets of her past. Both will irrevocably change the course of her life.(Goodreads)

I kept putting this book off until the last minute because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it ended up not being as great as the first book. Although I enjoyed the characters, I just wasn’t feeling the plot as much. It didn’t live up to the first book but I still liked it for the most part.

Ileth is back and is just as determined to become a dragoneer. In this book her role changes a lot since she is no longer a novice. She also doesn’t do as much dancing for the dragons for either. It was nice to see her do other tasks and socialize with more people. We also get to see her more humorous side!

Old and new characters make there way into the plot. The dragons are still there but I also felt they kind of were on the backburner for this book. I missed reading about Ileth and the dragons together. There are still some moments but they are few and far between.

The plot for this book involves a new threat. From the prologue we get a glimpse and it definitely piqued my interest. The thing is, the pacing is on the slower side and it takes awhile for it to pick up. I’m glad I at least enjoyed the characters because otherwise it would have been a bit hard to get through this one.

The ending felt a bit rushed and I didn’t like how most of the newer characters were just there for plot twists. I never grew a connection with them so I didn’t care what happened to them. 🤷‍♀️

Overall, I liked it but it was still a bit of a letdown. I will still continue on with this series because I would like to see where it goes.

Audiobook Review: Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

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Title: Mark of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga #1)
Author: Morgan L. Busse
Genre: Fantasy / Christian Fiction
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers




“Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (Goodreads)

I read this for the first time as an e-arc in 2018 and really liked the story but never continued on with the series because at times I am terrible at it!

I have been trying to get better and that is why I am revisiting this series, but as audiobooks this time.

My reviewing skills back in the day were okay but I have changed a lot since then, haha. So I am also updating my review.

I still enjoy the two main point-of-views and the one from Lady Selene’s mother, but that one only happens a few times.

There is a lot of character development for Lady Selene who must decide where her loyalty lies and what she is willing to lose in the process of it all. That also includes losing herself to the darkness which clearly clings to her mother.

It’s always hard to want to please your parents but not give up on who you are as a person. I can understand the struggle well. Selene is always doing a balancing act.

I think my favorite part out of the whole book is the relationship. I mean, it’s not really a relationship but by the end she marries for convenience to another house lord and I’m excited to see where the relationship between them goes.

There is magic found within each house as well and I thought the magic system was cool and fun to learn about. Selene has dream walking and although some people would like her to use it for evil, I think that she will really let her gift shine in the next book.

Overall, I still enjoyed this book the second time around and look forward to actually continuing this series.

Old Review:

The cover and description is what drew me in but the plot and writing kept me glued. This book was so good that I read 80% of it in one day. Mark of the Ravens is filled with Assassins, murder, and twisted families. The main character, Lady Selene, is relatable as she struggles to not lose herself when the ones close to her ask for more. It also has multiple POVs which adds to any book and makes the development of the characters even better as you get to see their side. This book will leave you wanting more and I can’t wait for this series to continue! It is out now so go check it out!

Mini Book reviews: Found Things #1 and #1 by Paula Brackston

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31450585Title: The Little Shop of Found Things (Found Things #1)
Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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“A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.” (Goodreads)

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There were some interesting parts to this, one being the time travel. I thought that was really cool that she could go back and help people just by touching an item.

The romance was pretty underwhelming and I felt like the plot was lacking as well. There just wasn’t enough adventure in my opinion.

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43263457._SY475_Title: Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2)
Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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The second novel in a bewitching series “brimming with charm and charisma” that will make “fans of Outlander rejoice!” (Woman’s World Magazine)

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed?” (Goodreads)

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This was definitely better than the first. There was a bit more going on in the romance department but I still think that it could have done with a bit more. The plot was better because there was actually a villain. In the first one it is more about them not being able to practice their religion openly but I liked the idea of this villain and how they have been there all this time. It ended with a bang because of it and now I am very interested in the third book. Overall, there was just more action, suspense, and it did grasp my attention a bit more.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

E-Arc Review: The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

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49931405._SY475_Title: The Kingdom of Liars (The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings #1)
Author: Nick Martell
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.

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In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth.

Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.

In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.

What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it.” (Goodreads)

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Have you ever read a book where things happen but you just don’t have any feelings towards it at all? That’s how I feel about this book.

The book starts off strong with the introduction of Michael Kingman, the son of king killer. It’s setup to be quite interesting from the beginning and I found myself being really intrigued and wanting to not put it down. As I continued my read it just felt like things were happening but also not at all. If that makes sense.

There is definitely death and other things that follow certain characters but I never felt bad for what happened to them. They either weren’t in the picture for very long or they just felt flat because there just wasn’t any background there for them.

The world-building and magical system also lacked for me. I wanted more background and just more information and sentences to describe the setting. I want to be able to imagine it in my head and I just didn’t get that with this.

Overall, this one just wasn’t for me. There just wasn’t anything that kept me pulled in to this world and the characters in it.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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5907Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre: Fantasy/Classic
Publication Date: September 21st, 1937

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In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. (Goodreads)

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I have done it! I’ve finally managed to read this wonderful book! As a huge fan of the movies I knew one day I needed to actually read it. I have tried multiple times over the years but quickly forget about it as I wasn’t such an avid reader back then. Seriously, shame on me. Oh well, it’s done now!

Many know this adventurous tale and if you don’t then you’re missing out. Bilbo is very relatable as he is a homebody but decides to take a chance and go on an adventure. Along the way there are many characters that are introduced.

There are definitely differences between the book and movie. I’m sure if I were to watch the movies now my opinion would change a bit. I still think they did a decent job of putting it together and honestly, it was hard not to picture the cast for it in my head while reading.

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like so I can’t complain. Yay for good reads!

Overall, I loved this one and will hopefully be starting Fellowship of the Ring soon.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

 

E-Arc Review: The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

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47583978Title: The Ranger of Marzanna
Author: Jon Skovron
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 21st, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.

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“When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths—one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it—in this thrilling new Russian inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.

Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.

When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.

But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he’s fighting for the empire.” (Goodreads)

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You know what I dislike? When a book that has an amazing cover is a letdown. Sure, there are things that I liked about this one but the bad reasons overshadowed them for me.

This book is split into many point-of-views. There are times that I quite enjoy this because it gives us a glimpse into other plot points or the means to them but for this one I could care less about a couple of the point-of-views we got.

My biggest gripe would have to be the dialogue. For being a fantasy some characters dialogue would feel out of place and more modern especially while others around them felt more towards the time of the novel. It would always break me out of enjoying the book because the details used and the wording of everything else was great! But some of the dialogue was just clunky and hard to get through.

There were awesome elements added like the lady Sonya works for. Sonya would have to give something in return for a favor. I also liked that the horse was more of a companion than just an animal used for travel. They were great aspects but were definitely overshadowed by everything else.

I also had a hard time connecting to the characters. Sebastion did things that I didn’t understand and never questioned anything from the beginning. I just felt like it was odd. Sonya, his sister, was a lot cooler and I did at least like her.

Overall, this book felt like it could have been a lot more and one that I would have really loved but there were just certain issues that made it hard to really get into this book.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Mini E-Arc Review: Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights by Various Authors

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49700844._SX318_SY475_Title: Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights
Author: Patrick Weekes, John Eple, Brianne Battye, Courtney Woods, Ryan Cormier, Sylvia Feketekuty
Genre: Fantasy/ Games/ Short Stories
Publication Date: March 10th, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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An anthology of original stories based on the dark fantasy, role-playing video game series from Bioware.

Ancient horrors. Marauding invaders. Powerful mages. And a world that refuses to stay fixed.

Welcome to Thedas.

From the stoic Grey Wardens to the otherworldly Mortalitasi necromancers, from the proud Dalish elves to the underhanded Antivan Crow assassins, Dragon Age is filled with monsters, magic, and memorable characters making their way through dangerous world whose only constant is change.

Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights brings you fifteen tales of adventure, featuring faces new and old, including:

“Three Trees to Midnight” by Patrick Weekes
“Down Among the Dead Men” by Sylvia Feketekuty
“The Horror of Hormak” by John Epler
“Callback” by Lukas Kristjanson
“Luck in the Gardens” by Sylvia Feketekuty
“Hunger” by Brianne Battye
“Murder by Death Mages” by Caitlin Sullivan Kelly
“The Streets of Minrathous” by Brianne Battye
“The Wigmaker” by Courtney Woods
“Genitivi Dies in the End” by Lukas Kristjanson
“Herold Had the Plan” by Ryan Cormier
“An Old Crow’s Old Tricks” by Arone Le Bray
“Eight Little Talons” by Courtney Woods
“Half Up Front” by John Epler
“Dread Wolf Take You” by Patrick Weekes” (NetGalley)

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It’s always hard to review a book that is full of short stories. They are always unique and filled with many characters on different journeys. I enjoyed reading this one because I love the video games that this is based off of. There are characters old and new found in the pages which I loved. It was easy to get sucked into this world.

Of course with any book full of short stories, there are some that I liked more than others. Even though this was the case, it didn’t take away for my overall enjoyment.

If you are a fan of the games then I would definitely suggest checking this book out!

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

E-Arc Review: Servant of the Crown (Dragonslayer #3) by Duncan M. Hamilton

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45046491Title: Servant of the Crown (Dragonslayer #3)
Author: Duncan M. Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: March 10th, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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“The Exciting Conclusion to the Dragonslayer Trilogy
Long laid plans finally bear fruit, but will it prove as sweet as hoped for? With the king on his deathbed, the power Amaury has sought for so long is finally in his grasp.

As opposition gathers from unexpected places, dragonkind fights for survival and a long-awaited reckoning grows close.

Soléne masters her magic, but questions the demands the world will make of her. Unable to say no when the call of duty comes, Gill realizes that the life he had given up on has not given up on him.

Once a servant of the crown, ever a servant of the crown…” (Goodreads)

Book One Review
Book Two Review

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I have read this whole series now and it feels good to finally have completed it. Although it was a bit of rocky start in book one, it all came together by the end with this one being filled with all the adventure I needed.

Just like the other books, there are many point-of-views that take place. There are obviously characters that I liked reading about more than others. I was sad to see one character that had potential die. I will not get over it!

Gill and Soléne are still doing their thing and fighting for justice. They are great characters and have had a lot of development throughout the series which is nice to see. The dragons were still present but at the same time didn’t feel as present as book one and two. I’m just a sucker for dragons.

The plot wrapped up nicely and I’m glad there was finally some justice! Plot twists were on point and kept me turning each page. I will say that the ending felt a bit rushed and that did leave me a bit disappointed.

Overall, this is a good series and I’ve enjoyed my time reading about these characters and their world.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)