Book Review – Essence of Stone


The Essence of Stone by Haley Rylander is a sweeping, epic fantasy with intricate world-building and political intrigue. The plot essentially follows a city of elves as they try find the source of the strange, destructive earthquakes attacking their city and their source of Vierstone, the magical foundation of their society and their race. Simultaneously, they must navigate an alliance with the neighboring human kingdom, which promises them another source of Vierstone in exchange for their support in battle.

The story spans a wide cast of elven characters and dives deep into the politics and history of Vierstone, their world, and their people. The characters are likable and the writing was detailed and flowed with a rich, fantastical feel. However, the romantic elements were light for me, and the pacing for this epic felt a bit on the slow side. Of course, my general preferences lean toward a hearty helping of romance at *breakneck* speed, so if you’re looking for a lush world of elves and men, political maneuvering, and an interesting magic system with a sciency, hard set of rules, I recommend you give this one a look!

Thanks to the publisher for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. Essence of Stone launches on May 14, 2022.

⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Mmm. Books. Nom Nom. Tula says give me another!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – A Bad Day for Sunshine


Holy crap, I loved this book. A Bad Day for Sunshine follows Sunshine Vicram as she starts her first day as sheriff of the strange town of Del Sol.

It’s funny, the characters are amazing, the slowburn romance might kill you, the mystery elements keep you guessing, and even the quirky town of Del Sol comes to life.

As soon as I finished this audiobook (which is also fantastically narrated), I immediately put myself on the waitlist for the sequel as well as the author’s others books. Honesty, I’m so thrilled I don’t have to think about what my next audiobook is going to be for awhile, because it’s totally going to be Darynda Jones

Six brilliant stars, and I’ll probably be recommending this one to just about everybody.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The only real problem with this book is it makes me want to stop everything else and just read!!!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Starless Crown


This one’s a little tough to review, because I’m sure there are a LOT of people that will love this book. It’s a well-written, expansive, multi-POV epic fantasy, with tons of detailed world-building and plenty of action to move along the 22 hours of well-narrated audiobook.

The Starless Crown follows a cast of characters as they unearth old magics and traverse their dangerous world in a bid to prevent the apocalypse amid kingdoms on the brink of war.

But I just couldn’t get into it. I had trouble connecting to any of the numerous characters. Although they were all likable enough, they all felt rather one-dimensional to me, and the relationships and dialogue between them felt a bit flat. So from that indifference, it was really hard to get invested in the plot. And in the end it just felt… long.

Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten this from Netgalley I think I would’ve DNF’d it around 25% … 22 hours is a pretty big time investment. I kept hoping to get drawn in, but this just wasn’t for me. If you’re a fan of the author and sprawling epic fantasy, then I’d definitely still recommend giving it a look though.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the free ARC

⭐⭐⭐¼

I was stuck at home with a mild case of COVID this week, so I definitely needed a book to escape into. But this one just… wasn’t the one I was looking for.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Canary That Sang to the World


The Canary That Sang to the World is the fourth entry in The Panagea Tales and an excellent conclusion to series. This book finishes the epic saga in an intense, high-stakes closer. The crew is back together this one, and once again, it’s lovely to see these multifaceted, lovable characters banter and take on the world. I loved seeing the legendary bamf, Kazuaki, take center stage once again, and their final battles are a fitting, satisfying conclusion to the series.

However, I will say… *possible light spoiler ahead* 

If you’re looking for a feel-good, happily ever after ending… I might beware. This book is as heavy as the third entry. Death, loss, and grief play a prominent role, and the ending is firmly in the bittersweet category.

Absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautifully written steampunk epic featuring a cast of colorful characters in a dark, detailed world and heavy themes that take a bittersweet bite. I would definitely read more by McKenzie Austin in the future!

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

A solid end to an intense series!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Serpent that Swallowed Its Tail


The third book of The Panagea Tales, The Serpent That Swallowed Its Tail, follows Kazuaki’s crew after the climactic showdown at the end of the book 2, but I’ll keep this review short to try to avoid spoilers.

With the crew spread out, one prominent character noticeably missing, and Panagea, itself, trying to rearrange in the face of new world, Book 3 definitely takes on a slower, more morose tone than the last two books. This book tackles some heavy themes head on, and builds even further on the intricate world-building of the first two entries. The characters are more spread out here, and although they eventually connect in the end, their narratives feel much more independent in this book. Still, the story retains the epic scale and beautiful prose that makes the series stand out. I will say I did miss a certain missing character in this book, and I missed some of the crew interactions and comradery I loved in the first two.

A solid entry in the Panagea Tales that I would definitely recommend to fans of the first two, and one that definitely left me curious for Book 4!

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Epic, dark, and unique. Let’s see what book 4 brings!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Fable


Fable was another solid read that I didn’t love. Fable is the story of a girl abandoned by her ship-captain father on a rough island where she desperately tries to scrape together enough coin to escape and confront her father.

I really loved the concept of this book along with the found-family themes on the rough and tumble high-seas and the subtle magic in an intriguing, unforgiving world. But I found myself really wishing for more connection between Fable and the other characters, particularly the love interest. Told from the first person, Fable seems to stay in her own head a lot, and although everyone in this world is supposed to be reserved and guarded, I really found myself wanting more inter-character interaction and connection.

I think part of the problem might be that this book does not stand alone in any way. I’d say it ends on a cliffhanger, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like an end. It feels like we got cut off in the middle of the book – so maybe the second book would bring that depth and satisfaction I was missing. The audiobook narrator wasn’t my favorite voice, but overall I enjoyed the listen, and would recommend to fans of seafaring YA.

If I see the sequel ever pop up in the library, I’d probably pick it up, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think Tula has begun to dread the possibility of a reading slump! Ever hopeful, we continue to search the horizon for new, amazing reads.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash #3)


Okay, so to review.
Book 1: I thought the first half was boring, and the second sucked me in. 4.5 stars
Book 2: Totally got me with the side characters, the enemies-to-lovers romance, and the plot. 5 stars
And now here we are at book 3.

So… I jumped right into this book from Book 2, excited and ready, and for about the first 30% I was riveted… and then we ran into some problems. First, the romance seemed to overwhelm the plot, which isn’t super problematic, but the MCs were square in the honeymoon phase for pretty much the whole book. Their relationship didn’t seem to grow, and the smut was honestly kind of repetitive. The inside jokes that were cute in book 1 and book 2 (Miss Willa’s diary and Poppy’s neverending questions) felt stale here, and the plot as a whole just seemed to stall with lots of talking and not much doing. There were also a few plot points (won’t give away without spoilers) that also didn’t really work for me.

I actually hesitated reading this book with #4 not out yet since I thought I would be dying to get my hands on it. As it is, I think I’ll read it once it comes to the library, but I’m really hoping it has more to it then this one.

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

There’s always hope for the next one!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire


Okay, so I had mixed thoughts on the first book (specifically I thought the first half was boring, and the second half was awesome), but it left off on a bit of cliff-hanger so I decided to give book two a try, and I was NOT disappointed.

I INHALED this book. Book two successfully intensified everything I enjoyed from book one. Although once again, I did think the start was a touch slow, I wasn’t bothered too much because I was already so invested in the characters. And the side characters really showed up here too in the best way. I absolutely loved Kieran. And this time, I loved learning about the world. The world-building definitely fleshed out and deepened here, but it was more seamlessly woven into book two.

It’s darker, it’s steamier (kind of veering into the weird, but this is a world of essentially vampires and werewolves so… you know), and in general, it’s just more awesome. Cas and Poppy are borderline dysfunctional and absolutely violent, but they seem so suited to each other, and their dynamic just totally works. If you’re unfazed by sex, violence, and language, and you enjoyed the second half of book one, then I wholeheartedly recommend. On to Book 3!

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Modern day Wolven reporting for duty here.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Interstellar Slayer


The Interstellar Slayer is a fun science fantasy adventure that takes us into a thoroughly interesting and detailed universe. In a way it reminded me a lot of The Mandalorian in the way that the story follows this rather taciturn assassin as he navigates through this rich new universe on a mission from his guild. There’s plenty of action to show off his interesting, magic-like abilities that make him so effectively deadly, and we also got a glimpse of some colorful side characters and lore which I’m sure get more facetime in future books.

Honestly, the only criticism I have this book is that it packs of lot of info into such a short book, and we didn’t get to know the characters as much as I would’ve liked. But with lots of sequels to follow, there’s still so much to explore and see through Hozark’s adventures. Definitely recommend for anyone looking for a fun new space-fantasy world to explore with a fresh new magic system and lots of action. Thanks so much to Booksirens for the free ARC!

 ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½   

Cheers to a fun sci-fi! Alas, if only I had a cute mug to toast with!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Darling, there are Wolves in the Woods


Darling there are Wolves in the Woods by LV Russell follows Teya as she enters an enchanted, dark wood to find her sister who was stolen by the fey ten years past. As she struggles to survive the horrors of the wood, the complex fey, Lathaniel, become inextricably entwined with her journey.

I really loved the writing style of this book. The descriptions were incredibly evocative and painted such a vivid picture of the darkly magical wood. I also super loved just how dark this fairytale-like story was. It was just the right amount of creepy and disturbing without feeling like anything was added for shock value or out of place. Even though the woods are obviously a death trap you wouldn’t want to find yourself in, they sounded so beautiful, I could see how they would draw someone in. And I loved all the interesting descriptions of the dark magic that exists in this world.

I found Lathaniel to be a very interesting, complicated character… which, after countless years as a fey, a cruel race, and with his a thorny past, makes a lot of sense. Even though he’s very forward about his flaws and is dangerous in so many ways, I can see how Teya would be drawn to him. Teya though, was a bit frustrating to me. Teya has definitely had it rough too in life, but I found her to be rather mercurial in her relationship with Lathaniel, and I had trouble understanding her motivation for some of her choices. But I was definitely still rooting for her, and since there are sequels there’s still a lot of room for growth.

Totally recommend to anyone looking for a unique, dark fairytale with complex characters and beautiful writing.

 ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐   

And, it’s been set free into the local Little Free Library. I have no doubt it’ll be snapped up in no time!

Thanks for reading!