Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

After reading Legends & Lattes I have been on a hunt for more cozy fantasy and this book was exactly what I was looking for!

SYNOPSIS

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

BOOK INFORMATIONBOOK LINKS
Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: 17 March 2020
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Magic, Romance
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes&Nobles
Book Depository

THOUGHTS AND RATINGS

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a creative and beautiful fantasy story about real-life themes of belonging and found family. The story begins with Linus Baker, a 40-year-old caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who has just been assigned a top-secret case to go to Marsyas orphanage and investigate the six magical children – Lucy, Talia, Theodore, Phee, Sal, and Chauncey – which were under Arthur Parnassus care.

When Linus steps onto the island, the story takes on a soft and cozy feeling as we meet all the heartwarming characters who have found a safe haven there from people who misunderstand and feared them. All of them were so vibrant and lovable that I just wanted to be part of their family. They also played a huge role in Linus’ change and made him realize that there is more to the world and that he shouldn’t be stuck inside his own bubble. Arthur might be my favorite out of all of them. He was lovely, patient, and very understanding of all the children. I loved his interaction with them and of course the SLOW BURN romance between him and Linus.

I not only LOVED the characters but also the setting of the book. When we got to the island everything just turned so magical. Everything about it was so well written that you feel like you were there and don’t want to leave. I felt like I was on vacation while reading this and it was the best I had so far if I say so myself.

But while the story does provide escapism for the readers, with its magical surroundings and a cast of extraordinary characters, the message still very much resonates in the ‘real world’. It’s like a fairy tale for adults, with a moral message at its core.

On the surface, the House in the Cerulean Sea is a feel-good fantasy novel but in the end, it’s about so much more. Highly recommend and I will pick up the rest of TJ Klune’s books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company.

His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

🔥Author Website 🔥Amazon 🔥Goodreads 🔥Instagram

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Book Review: Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard

My childhood friend has been pushing me to read a Linda Howard book for months now and I finally caved.

SYNOPSIS

Bailey Wingate’s scheming adult stepchildren are surprised when their father’s will leaves Bailey in control of their fortune, and war ensues. A year later, while flying from Seattle to Denver in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters — and then fails.

Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot, manages to crash-land the aircraft. Stranded in the wilderness, and struggling to douse her feelings for the ruggedly handsome man by her side, Bailey begins to wonder whether this was a mere accident. Who tampered with their plane? Who’s trying to reunite Bailey and her husband in the afterlife? Cut off from the world, and with little hope of rescue, Bailey must trust her life — and heart — to Cam, as they battle the harsh elements to find a way out of the unforgiving wilds and back to civilization … where a killer may be waiting to finish the job.

BOOK INFORMATIONBOOK LINKS
Title: Up Close and Dangerous
Author: Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: 29 April 2008
Genre: Romantic Suspense,
Survival, Mysterty
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes&Nobles
Book Depository


THOUGHTS AND RATINGS

“You can,” he interrupted. “You’re going to. We’ll take things slow, ease you into the concept. I understand you’re dealing with childhood baggage, and that’s the kind that’s hard to unpack. But sooner or later you’ll trust me, and accept that someone cares about you.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Bailey is a 32-year-old widow from Seattle with huge walls around her heart. She was involved in a brief marriage of convenience and when her husband died she was forced to deal with his two very spoiled, irresponsible, and pain-in-the-ass adult children – Seth and Tamzin. To take a break from them she decided to go to Denver for a much-needed vacation. She then made the decision to use a private plane from J&L Executive Air Limo where we finally meet the handsome and sexy as hell PILOT Cam Justice.

Bailey and Cam don’t really have a good opinion of each other… well they HATED one another. Bailey considers him a grim sourpuss while Cam thinks she’s cold and stuck up. So none of them were very thrilled about being stuck on a long flight with each other. Then lo and behold, something happens with the engines, and they crash into the middle of nowhere and only have one another to depend on.

I loved the connection that grew between Cam and Bailey as they struggled for days to survive. As Cam got better (after almost dying) he started making moves both verbally and physically on Bailey which was very fun to read to since at first, they hated each other and when all the misunderstandings were gone, they started to understand each other. Cam was a kind; funny, caring guy and perfect for Bailey because he didn’t give up on her and encouraged her to open up to him without pushing her to her limits. When she finally realized that she was feeling love towards Cam it just felt so satisfying to read after everything they went through but I felt like I needed to see a little bit more of the romance between them. I was hoping for an epilogue of some sort where they get married and so on cause it felt a little rushed in the end.

I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would when I started it. When I read the synopsis I was expecting it to have more mystery and suspense with them thinking about who the culprit was and so on. But I actually really liked the survival concept that this had. When the plane crashed in that cold mountain I felt like I was there almost freezing with them. Also, the revelation at the end shocked me cause I DID NOT see that coming.

Up Close and Dangerous is the 1st book I’ve read from Linda Howard and it certainly won’t be the last cause I am intrigued with her other books and I can’t wait to get to the rest of them (since I practically got 13 books of hers for free.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda S. Howington is an American best-selling romance author writing under the pseudonym Linda Howard. After 21 years of penning stories for her own enjoyment, she submitted a novel for publication which was very successful. Her first work was published by Silhouette in 1982. She is a charter member of Romance Writers of America and in 2005 Howard was awarded their Career Achievement Award.

Linda Howard lives in Gadsden, Alabama with her husband, Gary F. Howington, and two golden retrievers. She has three grown stepchildren and three grandchildren.

⛰️Author Website ⛰️Amazon ⛰️Goodreads

Book Review: Wicked Walking by Claudia Cain

A huge thank you to the author, Claudia Cain, for sending me an Advance Copy of her book Wicked Walking (Fallow Creek #2) in exchange for a honest review.

SYNOPSIS

After killing a monster and dragging herself home from another world, Cassandra Reilly has become more than a witch – she’s a hero. Sure, she can’t sleep through the night and she’s haunted by what she saw, but things should be looking up. Right?

Except something followed her out of the woods that day. And despite her best efforts – and the help of Merich, the handsome Fae Warden – Cass has failed to find any trace of it. Vanishing entities rarely bode well, but maybe no news is good news. And with a ticket out of town and her future on the horizon, Cass could really use a lucky break.

She’s not going to get one.

BOOK INFORMATIONTRIGGER & CONTENT WARNING
Title: Wicked Walking
Author: Claudia Cain
Publisher: Black Sheep Books
Publication Date: 30 August 2022
☪Profanity
☪Mild Gore
☪Depictions of Injury
☪Violence, Death, Mild Body Horror
☪Mentions of Suicide
☪Depictions of Anxiety
BOOK LINKSAmazon Goodreads

THOUGHTS & RATING

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

“Then I’m a selfish person.” “To want to be free of all this.”

“Cassandra,” he says. “There is nothing selfish about knowing what you want.”

Wicked Walking was one of my most anticipated release for this year and I absolutely enjoyed it more than the first book which is saying a lot cause I loved the first one so much.

Once again we are transported back to the dark and mysterious world of Fallow Creek where the story continues with Cassandra together with the rest of the characters – Theo, Pen, Aunt Louisa and of course our very flirty fae Merich – in another mission to hunt the “Sixth Child” who followed her out of the veil when she rescued the missing children’s in book one.

Just like I mentioned in the first book I really liked Cass’s character. After everything she has experienced and after making the decision to finally leave town she still had a strong sense of responsibility to capture the Sixth child. She was brave and willing to do everything she can to make things right, but you can also see her fears and vulnerability which makes her more relatable as a character.

More tensions also ensued between her and her family in this second installment. Questions I had in the first book about the rite, the Witch and why her Aunt was pushing Cass to be one were answered here BUT when one question is answered a new one arise.

I also got to see more of Merich here which was very much appreciated! We got to know him a bit better without losing the mysterious aura in him. I also felt like this has more romance than the 1st book but not to the point where it overshadows the main plot of the story.

This is definitely more darker, creepier and gruesome than the first one. It had my pulse racing to the point where I was reading it at 3AM and had to stop cause I was feeling a bit paranoid and kept imagining something might pop out of somewhere.

Wicked Walking is the perfect blend of magic and paranormal. From the dark and vivid imagery to the very relatable set of characters, creepy plotline with body possession, mystery, murder and epic fight scenes which will have you in the edge of your sit wanting to either fight or run for your life.

Claudia Cain has a way of making you feel like you are inside the story. Her writing style made me feel a lot of emotions from the first page. I read this in one sitting and I felt scared, heartbroken (a million of times!), anxious and giddy the whole time which made me not put the book down at all. Highly recommend for someone who loves thriller and horror.

Another cliffhanger for this second book which makes me crave the 3rd book so much more! I need a release date!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claudia Cain is the author of the Silver and Bone trilogy, bringing together crime and fantasy in a supernatural San Francisco.

She currently lives in New Zealand and can usually be found either writing or reading. She owns more books than strictly necessary, and loves fantasy, animals, and dark humour.

Author WebsiteAmazonGoodreadsInstagram

Book Review: A Nordic King by Karina Halle

This is my first Karina Halle book and it features one of my new favorite tropes – Single Dad and Nanny romance. ♡ 

SYNOPSIS

A widowed father of two little girls. The beautiful nanny he’s hired to raise them. A forbidden romance unlike any other. A Nordic King is the newest standalone royal romance from the New York Times Bestselling author of The Pact and The Swedish Prince.

When I first applied for the job I thought it would be like all the others: working as a nanny for an aristocratic family. Then I got the job and found out how wrong I was.

Now I’m the new nanny for two adorable little girls who happen to be princesses.

Their father is the widowed King of Denmark. And my new home? The royal palace in Copenhagen. Adjusting to my new life isn’t easy but the hardest part hasn’t been the girls who still grieve over the loss of their mother.

It’s their father.

Cold, mysterious and moody, with an icy stare that seems to penetrate your soul, King Aksel may have hired me to take care of his daughters but he wants as little to do with me as possible.

Yet the longer I share these palace walls with this man, the more that I’m drawn to him. His chiseled face and sexual swagger are only part of the package. It’s in the long, intense glances at the dinner table, the way we’ll brush up against each other in the halls, the rare glimpses of the man deep inside, like the sun passing through clouds.

But no matter how I feel about him, we can never be together.

You think it’s bad enough being in love with your boss?

Try falling in love with a king.

BOOK INFORMATIONBOOK LINKS
Title: A Nordic King
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 20 September 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance,
Royal Romance, New Adult
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes&Nobles

THOUGHTS & RATING

“I’ve waited forty years to have a home,” he says softly.

“I’ve waited for you.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I have discovered that I am slowly becoming a fan of books with single dad’s so when I read the synopsis of this and found out that not only is it a single dad story but it’s also a single dad and nanny slow burn romance AND (it doesn’t end there) it is also a story with royals in it. I mean who wouldn’t right?

This story is about Aurora who just resigned from her recent nanny job in Paris and is looking for a change of pace. She thought that it might be better to take a break from her previous work BUT her advisor, Amelia, has a very good job offer for her with a “prominent” family in Denmark. After working for a lot of influential and famous families Aurora didn’t think twice and accepted the offer not knowing that she will be taking care of the 2 daughters of Aksel which is… the King of Denmark.

This story really hit me with that prologue. I felt so much emotion from Aksel (which I won’t be talking about cause I don’t want to spoil anyone) which made me understand more why he is acting the way he is around people, especially Aurora.

Aksel and Aurora had such a good chemistry. They balanced each other so well since Aksel was very grumpy and closed off while Aurora was a badass and outgoing character that was very infectious at times (maybe that’s why she was a very good Nanny). This was a slow burn romance but you cannot deny the sexual tension between them.

There is an age gap between the 2 of them but Aurora throughout the story felt very matured because of her experiences while growing up. They both had very dark past and approached it in different ways. Their characteristics and attitude were very opposite from each other but this made them more perfect for one another.

I also liked that it didn’t just focus on the romance but also tackled the aftermath of what happened and how it affected the relationship Aksel had with his 2 daughters, Clara and Freja, and the rest of his family and friends.

This story started strong for me but it did fell a little flat and rushed at the end. There was also a time where I asked myself where they started to REALLY like each other and not just in a friendship kind of way.

But overall it was a very good read. It tackled so much emotion that ranges from guilt, disappointment, lost then feeling loved again, acceptance and being part of a new family that you would do anything to hold on to.

Felt like a roller coaster ride with all this characters and I will be picking up the first 2 books in this series very soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as sixty other wild and romantic reads.

She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia during the summer, and in Los Angeles in the winter.

Halle is represented by Root Literary and is both self-published, and published by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, and Montlake. Her books have been published in numerous languages around the world.

🌊Author Website 🌊Amazon 🌊Goodreads

🌊Instagram 🌊Twitter

Book Review: Lovely, Dark and Deep by Claudia Cain

A huge thank you to the author, Claudia Cain, for sending me an Advance Copy of her book Lovely, Dark and Deep in exchange for a honest review.

SYNOPSIS

It’s a beautiful day in autumn, and a little girl has gone missing…

She’s not the first.

Hannah Hendricks is the fourth child to disappear from the small town of Fallow Creek in the past two months. Search parties comb the woods and vigils are held, yet there is no trace of the missing children, as if they have vanished off the face of the earth.

Cassandra Reilly is certain there is magic involved, but few people trust the word of a witch, and fewer still want her help. As an outsider to the rest of the town, it seems there is little she can do – until Hannah’s parents arrive on her doorstep, begging for magical aid.

Cass is tired of doing nothing, but agreeing to help is more dangerous than she knows. Something evil is at work in Fallow Creek, and if she isn’t careful, she’ll lead it back to her own door.

BOOK INFORMATIONTRIGGER & CONTENT WARNING
Title: Lovely, Dark and Deep
Author: Claudia Cain
Publisher: Black Sheep Books
Publication date: 5 November 2021
🍁Profanity
🍁Mild Gore
🍁Mentions of Suicide
🍁Animal Death
BOOK LINKSAmazon Goodreads

THOUGHTS & RATING

“Have you ever met someone who made you feel seen? he asks quietly. “When nobody else did?”

“Once you do, it’s hard not to get attached”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s a glorious autumn afternoon, and the woods are about to swallow a girl whole.

When a book starts with that kind of sentence be ready for the most exciting (and creepy/scary) adventure of your life!

Lovely, Dark and Deep follows the story of Cassandra a witch who lives with her siblings, Theo & Pen, and her Aunt Louisa at the edge of the wood of Fallow Creek. When 4 children had gone missing Cass thought that it’s about time she does something and stop hiding from everything.

I loved Cass’ character. She was the person who would risk everything for anyone who is in need and doesn’t ask for anything in return. She does doubt herself throughout the 1st part but when she realized that it is possible for her to do something and bring the kids back home safe she never hesitated to go through with it.

Her relationship with the rest of the characters were also well rounded and I felt like it was all so realistic that you could relate to the drama they had. Broken family, controlling aunt, favoritism, being the golden boy or the black sheep of the family, A LOT of expectations and misunderstandings. Everything just felt so real and that made it all the better.

Merich was also one of my most memorable character. When he first came out I was literally scared sh*tless cause he was mentioned to have black eyes and my imagination just went over the roof. Then we find out he was actually a Fae (which I am a sucker for) and the Warden of the Woods. Him and Cass didn’t really liked or agree with each other and they always have this banter going on but when they started to work with one another it felt like they do have a special connection even though it was not fully opened or mentioned in the story.

Since reading The Year of the Witching last year I have been on the hunt for a good witch book that involves the woods or a forest and this gave me what I want. I LOVED how atmospheric and magical everything was and while reading I got so immersed in the story and the world that I felt like I was connected to everything. The writing style was well paced and the plot was solid all throughout the story. Upon starting you think of a ton of questions and they slowly gets answered as you read on.

This was a very short but epic story that is perfect for Fall. It was a mixture of drama, magic, mystery, paranormal and creepy/unsettling vibes that will keep you on the edge of your sit and wanting more. AND with that cliffhanger?! (which makes you list out more questions to be answered) I’m glad 2022 is almost upon us and I can’t wait to go back to Fallow Creek in the next book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claudia Cain is the author of the Silver and Bone trilogy, bringing together crime and fantasy in a supernatural San Francisco.

She currently lives in New Zealand and can usually be found either writing or reading. She owns more books than strictly necessary, and loves fantasy, animals, and dark humour.

🍁Author Website 🍁Amazon 🍁Goodreads 🍁Instagram

Book Tour Stop & Review: Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

It has been A WHILE since I have posted here but today is very exciting cause it’s my stop for the #JadeFireGoldTour! 🎉

I have been chosen as one of the tour host for this lovely debut book and I would like to thank Caffeine Book Tours for this opportunity. Don’t forget to check the other tour hosts’ schedule with their content and reviews here. 💛

SYNOPSIS

Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.

BOOK INFORMATIONTRIGGER & CONTENT WARNING
Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June CL Tan
US Cover: GUWEIZ
UK Cover:  Aaron Munday
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: 12 October 2021
Age group: Young Adult
Genres: Fantasy
⭐ self-harm (gouging, eye horror; non-graphic)
⭐ child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting)
⭐ parent death (implied, off-page)
⭐ character deaths
⭐ mentions and descriptions of
fantasy/magical violence
(blood, war, political violence)
⭐ mentions and descriptions of
physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia
⭐ alcohol consumption
BOOK LINKSON-PAGE PRESENTATION
Amazon
Goodreads
⭐ POC (Chinese-coded characters)
⭐ LGBTQ+ (Sapphic, gay)

THOUGHTS & RATING

“Forgiveness is not weakness. It requires more strength than you think, my boy. You may not be able to change the past, but with each action, you can change the future.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.”

I haven’t read a YA fantasy book in awhile and when I saw the tour sign up of this on Caffeine Book Tours I debated if I would go through and try it. YA fantasy nowadays are a hit and miss for me but THIS was very much up my alley.

I started this book on the 10th of October and with me not getting into YA fantasy fast enough thought I wouldn’t be able to finish this by the time of my tour stop. But lo and behold I finished it in 3 days. That was how hooked I was with this book.

Jade Fire Gold focused around two characters, Ahn and Altan. Characters with very different backgrounds and personality but ironically tied together by the red strings of fate.

Ahn was a peasant girl who dreamed of living her desert town to explore the world but is keeping a secret from everyone while Atlan, the heir of the throne who everyone thought was dead, has set his mind on taking his revenge on the people who took everything from him.

The main thing I would like to comment was the writing style. I am very particular when it comes to the pacing and how an author describes a particular plot and/or setting and I was very satisfied with how this all turned out in this book. It also made me feel like I was there and at times I didn’t want to stop and just keep on reading.

Another thing I want to point out was the characters. Having a set of characters you can feel connected and attached to for me is one thing every book has to have. Ahn, Altan, Tang Wei, Linxi, Leiye, Shifu, Ama were characters I would remember for a long time. Every emotion they felt I felt as well. Happiness, anger, sadness, disappointment, forgiveness, love and even betrayal. It was also very engaging with both of the main characters perspective. From the start of the book you’ll learn and discover things in their life on the same pace and I felt like even though we were back and forth on the 2 perspectives nothing was left out.

The magic system was very interesting for me aswell and I felt Avatar vibes while reading it since it does focus on elemental magic which… I am not complaining. I also loved how Chinese mythology and history was intertwined with everything and everyone all throughout the book.

One thing I felt a little down about was how fast everything was at the last battle. I felt like it needed more impact after everything the characters have been through but overall it was a satisfying finish but that EPILOGUE though! I mean at first I thought this was a stand alone but now gurl… I need a sequel.

For me this was a very successful debut. Everything from the characters, world building, magic system, history, Chinese mythology, writing style, pacing was very well thought of and I can see how much the author spent the time and effort to make the story come to life. I loved and enjoyed every bit of it and I highly recommend this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

June CL Tan grew up in Singapore where she was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. She holds various degrees in communication studies, education, and film. After teaching for a few years, she took a detour into the finance industry. To no one’s surprise, she soon realized her mistake and made her escape. Now, she resides in New York City, talking to imaginary people and creating fantastical worlds under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. She enjoys telling stories that draw on both the traditional and modern to create something fresh to the eye, but familiar to the heart. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel. 

Author WebsiteGoodreadsInstagramTwitterTikTok

Book Tour Stop & Review: Across the Broken Tide by LaKase Cousino

Hi guys! Today is a very exciting day for me because I have been chosen as one of the tour host for LaKase Cousino’s debut fantasy novel “Across the Broken Tide”!

This is my very first book tour and I want to thank Caffeine Book Tours for selecting me to be part of this tour. Don’t forget to check the other tour hosts’ schedule with their content and reviews here. 💜

SYNOPSIS

In a world where the politics of court determines the future of every person in the kingdom, Dima has maneuvered her way not only into the good graces of the caliph as a tutor for his daughters, but into the heart of his son. However, when a prank goes a step too far, the childhood friends are separated in an effort to force them to grow into the people they are expected to become.

When a simple journey turns into a kidnapping, Dima is thrust into a strange land and must rely on a dark magical power that had been long buried in the sands of her home. But as her magic grows stronger and the tides of her new home rise, so do her darker temptations.

Caught between her heart and her magic, she finds herself struggling to choose who she will become. Through interactions with vikings, pirates, magical creatures who only speak in riddles, and forces hellbent on controlling everything she holds dear, Dima must discover who she is beyond the politics of the royal court.

BOOK INFORMATION ON-PAGE PRESENTATION
Title: Across the Broken Tide
Author: LaKase Cousino
Publisher: Written In Melanin Publishing
Publication date: 01 June 2021
Age group: New Adult
Genres: Fantasy
✭ POC (Black)
✭ LGBTQIAP+ 
✭ Religion (Muslim)
BOOK LINKS TRIGGER & CONTENT WARNING
Amazon
Goodreads
✭ Battle Violence

THOUGHTS & RATING

“We all pay a heavy price when we live by duty instead of love.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️.75

“I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.”

Across the Broken Tide is about a girl named Dima from Cordoba who is focused on fulfilling her duties and making the people who looked after her proud and never disappointed. Little did she know that once she leaves her comfort zone a whole adventure is awaiting her.

What I really loved about this book and what captured my attention completely was all the characters with such different colors, nationality, cultures, beliefs and personalities coming together and doing everything they can to prove what they believe in and face challenges together without bringing anyone down.

The character development of Dima was the most satisfying of all for me. From being the girl who only follows and does what is told and expected of her to being the brave and independent character she truly is made everything so much better and made her whole journey worthwhile.

This story was filled with adventure, action, love, acceptance, betrayal, loyalty, family and friends that will leave you at the edge of your sit and wanting to read more. It was beautifully written with a mix of mythology, fantasy and multicultural aspects with such beautiful landscapes and magical creatures that will both trigger your imagination and make you feel like you’re actually there with all of them.

(The part where the title was mentioned was an A+ with matching goosebumps experience for me. And that fight scene and ENDING! In need of the sequel as soon as possible! 😅)

I wouldn’t wanna say anything more cause I feel like it’s better to go into the story not knowing much and being surprised along the way. Highly recommended especially for people who love to read about cultures that are different from their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LaKase Cousino is the author of historical fantasy, a musician, and Medieval History obsessive from the Midwest. Her debut novel Across the Broken Tide is forthcoming from Written in Melanin Publishing. When not writing, LaKase can be found reading about the 10th century or playing fetch with the family dog Ife.

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The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

SYNOPSIS

From the founding member of We Need Diverse Books comes a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

THOUGHTS & RATING

⭐⭐⭐.75

“What is the job of a parent, but to teach a child she has worth so that one day she can transform herself into whatever she wants.

The Downstairs Girl is my first Stacey Lee book and the first book I have finished for the #stanasianauthors readathon.

This is a story about Jo Kuan, a Chinese-American girl who struggles to make a living and fit in due to the prejudice of the people during the reconstruction era of the South. She was a ladies maid during the day but at night she becomes the mysterious author “Miss Sweetie” of a newspaper advice column.

I really loved Jo as a character. She was a very strong, responsible, compassionate and opinionated person that you just can’t help to root for especially when everything was against her. I loved how she stands up for herself and didn’t let anyone bring her down just because of her nationality or even her gender. She has so much love for her family and friends and I feel like she is a character and a role model that will stick to you for a long time.

With the focus on racism, loss, social injustice I thought it would be harder to get into cause it tackles such heavy topics but upon starting it I wasn’t overwhelmed with everything that is going on. This was made possible by Jo as a character as well as Stacey Lee’s writing style. You wouldn’t feel depress cause even though a lot is happening you can still see and feel that by the end of the day Jo will be able to get through it cause of her personality and her conviction to what she believes is right.

The Downstairs Girl was a comfort read for me and made me realized a lot of things along the way. This was a story that have been a reality to many other people around the world. If you enjoy reading historical fiction with a badass asian character I highly recommend this.

In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

SYNOPSIS

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope… 

THOUGHTS & RATING

⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I know we’re young,” he blurted. “I know that we met under stressful circumstances. I know that I’m a prince and you’re a merman. But I also know that I’ve never felt this way about anyone else. I know we’re both the last, and we’ve felt alone. But we could be alone together.”

First of all can we appreciate how gorgeous the cover for this book is? I’ve actually first saw this on bookstagram and made a mental note to get into it as soon as it is released because I absolutely fell in love with the cover.

Honestly speaking I didn’t really think of this as similar to the Pirates of the Carribean but more on a queer take on The Little Mermaid. I have actually debated on what star rating I should give this book and instead of the average 3 stars I bumped it up to 4 stars cause I really did enjoy the story. Although this theme has been used multiple times I love how it was different in the sense that it isn’t dark, mature or full of tragedy. After reading too much fantasy the past year I needed something light and romantic for a change.

The story as well as the characters made it so much easier to get into. I adored Athlen and how naive he is to the world around him and I just want to protect him at all cost! I love the innocence and the vibrancy of Tal and Athlen as main characters. I love the relation of Tal “Tally” with his brothers and sisters. How it showed how much he could and would sacrifice to keep his family and his country safe even though he, like Athlen, doesn’t know much of the world since he was kept out of it because of his magic.

F.T Lukens briefly touched on topics like betrayal, forgiveness, hope, power, differences and acceptance but as Little Mermaid’s story this does center around the heart warming, fluffy and the innocence of Tal and Athlen’s first love. Even though both of them are so different with one another and from everyone else they held on to the belief that as long as they are together they will never be alone.

I can say that this is a book you would enjoy reading either at the beach on vacation or at the comfort of your home. Even though this wasn’t as action packed as the books I have been reading I did end this book with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

SYNOPSIS

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

THOUGHTS & RATING

⭐⭐⭐⭐

“It begins with absence and desire.

It begins with blood and fear.

It begins with a discovery of witches.”

This was highly recommended by a good friend of mine and since we have the same taste in books I immediately got the whole series. BUT as the awesome reader that I am (note the sarcasm) I wasn’t able to get into it until last year.

This was a perfect blend between fantasy, history, science and a little bit of mythology. I was so amazed at how Matthew Clairmont’s brain works and it felt like I was not just reading for entertainment but also learning A LOT from it. The historical references the author has put into the story was another plus for me and as a history geek I devoured every information.

Not gonna lie I wasn’t the biggest fan of Diana at first. With her not accepting what she truly is, being in denial of everything and relying on other people to protect her but at the last few pages she began to change into the badass female character I enjoy reading about.

I would also like to give credit to the rest of the characters. Ysabeau, Marthe, Marcus, Miriam, Sarah, Emily, Hamish etc were all very unique and unforgettable in their own way. I love how this characters were not outshined by the main ones and was able to be a huge part of the overall story.

I have also recently finished the 1st season of the tv show and seeing my favorite characters come to life was such a joy. I’m not usually a fan of book to movie/tv show adaptation but I did really enjoy this. Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont was spot on!

This book was such a captivating tale that instantly caught my attention and challenged my imagination from the very first page. It was full of magic, action, romance and supplied unlimited knowledge and I loved every part of it. It might be a bit slow at first but it got better as you continue reading it. Definitely one of the best books I have read last year and can’t wait to get to the last book of the series.