Reign of Shadows

Real rating: 4.5 stars

Spoilers ahead! 

I picked this book up last night, knowing only what the cover said. I've never looked up reviews or anything, so I went into this not knowing what to expect ... and I'm glad I did! 

This Rapunzel retelling felt like a mixture of Enclave and the movie, The Village.

I saw a review earlier that this insta-love story was basically cliche and irritating. I saw a few 1-star reviews, too, and I have to say... I'm glad authors still write stuff like this. 
I love retellings. 
I love romance.
I love a good girl-bad boy story.
I love royalty.
I love fairy tales.
Literally every aspect of this book I loved, except for one thing I'll get to later. 

Luna and Fowler are very different people. She's been locked away in a tower being shielded from the rotting world and he's been living in it, alone, for the past two years.
When Fowler found out that Luna was blind, I was completely shocked. I didn't see it coming at all! I absolutely loved the surprise, which in my eyes, made her even tougher. 
I loved that Luna was tough all on her own. Before she ever met Fowler, she knew she wanted more out of life and she was determined to get it. Meeting Fowler, and the circumstances that followed gave her a chance to get out of the tower and live, but I believe she would have left without him. 

I liked their banter and I liked that she still had a sense of humor, even with tragedy and death always posing a risk. Even in a world with no sunlight, she still had a light in her. 

So the thing that made me give it 4.5 stars instead of 5:
Luna is blind, and because of that impairment, she has a better grip on her other senses. Smell, hearing, taste ... My issue was the believable factor. I kept reminding myself that this was a fantasy adventure, not real. But having Luna be able to sense a log in a part of the forest she'd never in, or know that he'd stepped to the fire and warmed his hands above it because she could smell the salt on his skin warming.....

Anyway... That was really the only thing that bothered me, and it wasn't all the time because her talent actually came in handy and gave it a more fantastical feel. But the skin salt warming was a little jarring. 

I seriously can't wait to read book two now. Super excited!

Stars

Genre

Fairytale Retelling

4.5

An Ember in the Ashes

"You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it."

I cannot begin to describe this book. There are hardly words that could come close. Literally, nothing in my mind will do it justice. 

While I was reading, I was Elias and I was Laia. Their fears, doubts, concerns and secrets were mine. Then their courage, strength, fight and triumph was mine too. I don't know if there is a book that brought me so deep into the story that when I closed the cover, it was like being snapped back to reality. An Ember in the Ashes made my heart pound, it made me smile and it made me cry. I warred with myself; wanting to highlight so many different things because the words were just so profound but I couldn't destroy this beautiful thing. 

"You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. That is your destiny…"

If there is a book you want to get lost in, pick this up.

Stars

Genre

Fantasy

5

The Fire King

For almost an entire year this book has been popping up on my recommended page on Amazon. I really enjoyed The Cold King and I always get nervous when reading other books by authors who have written one of my favorite books. This was definitely worth it! This re-telling of Snow White was epic. It will be very hard to beat, in my opinion.

The Fire King was a perfect combination of witty, smart and heart wrenching. I loved all of the characters but the relationship between King Lian and Princess Katiyana was absolutely priceless.

"Well, I can see that where ever you have been hiding, dressing and acting like a lady have not been the highest priority."


Katakana was a perfect heroine. While there were times she was immature and complained about little things, she was fierce and she didn't need a man to save her or set her free.

"I am not some simpering consort that is going to hang off your arm,"


She didn't care to challenge the king or his highest ranking officer. 

"You are a grown man, not a child. Stop acting like one. If there is a problem, just find a way to fix it and move on. Your temper tantrums are exhausting and unnecessary."


When she saw something wrong, she acted on it.

"What was that, coward?" Katiyana taunted. "I could not hear you from all the way over there. It sounded as though you were upset someone raised their voice and hand to your king, but surely that cannot be it if you are willing to allow him to do the same to a defenseless girl." 


I will admit that it took her a while to realize it rested on her shoulders alone to save her people. When she stepped into her role and accepted her duty she became stronger and better. She became a queen that was going to protect and serve her people.

I loved that the "apple" scene was different and the same at the same time. Instead of going with the traditional "girl bites apple without knowing, girl goes into sleeping curse, girl is saved by man" it was actually really awesome. And there were two different scenes so it was cool. 

Not only did Katakana challenge Lian, Lian also challenged her.

"You act like a country bumpkin, not a princess."
"And you act like an angry bear, not a king!"


There were times the hostility between them grew and they resorted to hurting each other.

"Your lack of manners and ability to hold your tongue is appalling, as is your refusal to act and dress like a lady. When you are not aggravating me, you are up in the roof of all places, daydreaming. I cannot imagine a man wanting to tie himself to a woman like that."


The fact that the king had to tell her to bathe was absolutely hilarious. (I'm telling you, I could not get enough of their banter and relationship. It was hysterical.)

A simple bath had her out of sorts.

""I am never going to be able to do this," Katakana whispered to herself as she dejectedly walked towards the bathing room."


She refused to call Lian her king but before she knew it he had gained her trust and respect, much to her shock she started seeing him in a new light.

"How is our king spoken about?"


If you like re-rellings, fairy tales, Snow White, men that act like bears, strong heroines, women that do not need a man's help or all of the above… Read this. It was beautiful, funny and amaaazing!!!!!

Stars

Genre

Fairytale Retelling

5

Withering Hope

Five "You're right. I don't need you to survive. I need you to live." stars 

There are so many stories that leave a huge impact on you afterward and this is one of them. One of the greatest things about reading a fictional romance is that the characters live on in your mind, they never die. With this epilogue, taking place many, many years later, Layla Hagen gives every reader closure in this heart wrenching story of the ultimate love. 

This was easily one of my favorites when I first picked it up last year and it's a book I know I'll read again and again.

Stars

Genre

Romance

5