Audiobook Review – When the Divine are Dead


When the Divine are Dead by E.K. Barnes follows Bradley, a fourteen-year-old boy with special Diviner abilities, Type I diabetes, and a string of deadly kind of bad luck.

We follow Bradley as he endures a school-shooting and a death of a family member, and then his family tries to start over in a new city with other Diviner families. We get bits an pieces of the horrible things that have happened to Bradley, his difficulty with his abilities, and the internal survivor’s guilt that plagues him as his family tries to start anew.

I really thought the author nailed Bradley’s authentic lower-YA voice, and I really felt for him as he tried to learn how to cope with his situation. Learning about the Diviners’ ability was super interesting, and in general, the tension and tight writing kept my attention straight through the end.

There were a lot of characters and siblings to keep track of, and I did find myself wishing we got a little more development from some of the other main characters. There were also a few strands I was expecting to get answers to that we didn’t quite get. However, this definitely seems like the first of the series, so they could have been left for future books. I also really enjoyed the audiobook narration, and the I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling this story. Would definitely recommend for all fans of YA urban fantasy. Thanks so much to the publisher for the free audible code!

⭐⭐⭐⭐¼

I’m always here for solid YA fantasy!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Defy the Night


I totally inhaled this book! Fast-paced, strong stakes, political intrigue, and a slowburn romance with thick “it’s complicated” vibes. I really liked both Corrick’s POV as the conflicted King’s Justice in a time where their kingdom is torn apart by disease and suffering. And it was perfectly balanced by Tessa’s more optimistic hopeful view tempered by what she witnesses out in the impoverished wilds. Usually I’m not into politics explanations in fantasy books, but I think this one did an amazing job of explaining the nuances of the sector relationships, rumors, and difficult choices of the rulers. I also really enjoyed how the characters change and grow as they come to different realizations about one another. It drew me into their world without slowing down the pace, and I totally drank it in. I also appreciated that even though there’s a sequel coming out, this book leaves you still feeling satisfied at the end. Totally recommend to high fantasy fans, and I would definitely read the sequel! Five glittering stars!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Aw look Locke’s even giving it a wink. Definitely approved!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – House of Salt and Sorrows


I enjoyed Small Favors by Erin Craig, so when I saw the House of Salt and Sorrows audiobook in my library I had to grab it.

In my Small Favors review I think I described how I liked the writing style, and the dark, creepy vibes, but then ending didn’t quite work for me.

And bizarrely, I feel EXACTLY the same about this book. Really liked the writing style, the somewhat fantastical, dark vibe, and the mystery of what really is going on – which is also consistent with what I liked about Small Favors.

Also, Annaleigh is very similar to the MC in Small Favors—a girl who loves her sisters and is falling for a mysterious stranger while she tries to figure things out.

While, the premise of the deaths of her sisters was super intriguing and the unique island world was cool, the ending once again just fell a little anticlimactic for me, and I didn’t feel like the love interest was fleshed out enough.

Overall though, a solid read with a creepy, fantastical feel to it. And if you like this one, you will probably also like Small Favors!

⭐⭐⭐⭐¼

Looks like Locke needs a little more action in her reads…

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – A Deadly Education


Okay… this book was interesting. I loved Uprooted, and also enjoyed Spinning Silver, so I was certainly excited to read another by Novik.

And, I definitely think some readers would love it. But it’s told in first person (which usually I don’t mind one away or another about this), but about 60% of the book really just feels like El telling us about the school in a simultaneously angry and matter-of-fact manner.

The school and the magic system are fascinating, don’t get me wrong, but… the plot itself and the characters both felt rather lacking to me. With such high stakes, the premise felt RIPE for intensity, danger, and some level of angst… but El is so matter-of-fact about everything, it just felt a little flat.

While the relationship between her and her classmates develops naturally, the relationship between she and Orion feels decidedly lukewarm, as does my feelings towards their characters in general.

The premise was awesome, the world-building fantastic and the audiobook was well-performed, but I guess El’s intensely pragmatic narrative just didn’t really work for me. But it might work for you! If you’re interested in a dark school of magic with high stakes, I’d check it out!

I might pick up the sequel if I see the audiobook in the library one day, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read on, my friends!

Thanks for reading!

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!