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Book Review: Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Smoke and Key

 

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start; bodies that are burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…

Opinion:  

Death, lost love, walking corpses, corsets, propriety, falling from graves, curious momentous and magic.

Finally.

The spooky Historical Romance that your Gothic little heart was searching for.

Smoke and Key was just as beautiful, dark, sorrowful and mysterious as I’d hoped it would be.

Kelsey Sutton is Queen when it comes to ingenious and creatively mind-bending YA plots. She brings fantasy to life and completely astounds me with her imaginative ideas for books. Countdown clocks to death in Gardenia, a book of poetry about a girl living a life of imagination in The Lonely Ones, and a world where emotions take human form in the Some Quiet Place series?!

*Swoon*

But my newest Kelsey Sutton obsession centers on Smoke and Key. It’s an eerie Gothic mystery dripping in fog and Tim Burton tendencies. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and moves between Key’s memories of her life and her time in Under. It is a time when young ladies are thrust into corsets and skirts, where propriety is everything, and when being caught with a member of the opposite sex in public, without a chaperone, is downright scandalous! It is a YA Crimson Peak (without the weirdness) and Corpse Bride mashup, stuffed with romance, murder and magic.

Under is neither heaven nor hell, it is a place in between, or so its inhabitants think. The place is downright creepy, and I was enamored with every moment of it. There is only dirt, cold and corpses in this depressing place and each person who walks its floor possesses the names of the objects they came with: Key, Smoke, Ribbon, Journal, Pocket Watch, Doll. The characters and the world of Under is like a funhouse for the dead. It’s filled with charismatic characters whose flesh and organs are literally decomposing before the readers eyes, and they’re tipping over the Looney Tunes side of the sanity spectrum.

Though there is no clear indication of what age characters like Key, Smoke and Journal are, I would have to guess that they are in their late teens or very early twenties. I found Key to be an absolute dream and am so grateful the author didn’t turn her into an immature wailing female. Key is the picture of poise and manners, even in death, and she comes off as an incredibly strong-willed lady of the dead. Match her up with the brooding, curious and dashingly Gothic Smoke, and we’ve got ourselves the match-up for every bleak black heart out there!

But obviously, the real addiction here is the thrilling ride the reader takes as they begin to uncover what Under is, and how these people got there. As Key’s memories begin to surface, she gets snippets and clues of her life when she was alive. A big house with a girl who calls her sister, a boy in a library, and American with an infectious grin and a knack for fighting. Each memory brings Key closer to learning about herself and how she died, but it also brings her closer to the dark side of her life.

This book brought out so many emotions in me while I was reading. Sadness, longing, excitement, disgust, curiosity. I LOVE the world this author created and the characters that fill its pages. It was so different from every YA Fantasy story currently out right now, and it is bound to be a favorite if you love a Gothic tale with magic. I devoured every page and am still hopelessly looking for more…*sigh*.

I’m going to be looking at cemeteries with longing in my eyes now.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Promo Blitz · Release Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Release Day Blitz: Wither (Prequel) and Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) by Jadie Jones

Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) and Wither: A Hightower Prequel
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Series: The Hightower Trilogy Prequel and Book #3
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Author: Jadie Jones
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~*~ RELEASE DAY ~*~

Today I have the release of 2 Books by Jadie Jones, both from her Hightower Trilogy series!

Book number 3, Wayward, and the prequel to the trilogy, Wither.

The Hightower Trilogy is a YA Paranormal/Fantasy Romance about a girl named Tanzy who is struck by lightning and is introduced to a new world that she was unable to see before, while also learning to truth behind her father’s death.

~Click here to purchase Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) on Amazon!~

~Click here to purchase Wither: A Hightower Prequel on Amazon!~

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Book Synopsis for Wither: A Hightower Prequel

For nearly a thousand years, Lucas, an immortal shapeshifter, has waited for Spera, his murdered human lover, to reincarnate. He has no way of knowing when or where she will return, or if she will even look the same in her new life. He must rely on his ability to recognize the actions of her fiery soul and her knack for attracting a killer king’s attention.

After his search leads him to a quiet Norwegian harbor town, a surreal encounter with his own kind leads to devastating consequences, causing Lucas to question his belief in himself and his quest. With his will and options quickly fading, Lucas is offered help from an old enemy who claims to have knowledge of Spera’s return. But it comes at a price: the assassination of the immortal king who took Spera’s life.

With an army raised and a strategy in place, Lucas is ready to attack, until the sudden appearance of a ghost from his past appears, forcing Lucas to take an even bigger risk than attempting to kill a malicious king…letting him live.

Book Synopsis for Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3)

Tanzy’s journey races toward an explosive end in Wayward, the third book of the Hightower Trilogy.

Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil between the Seen and Unseen worlds. She is now the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher and seal the door between worlds, she is forced to accept his marriage proposal and seek refuge inside his fortress. Tanzy is certain she can withstand any offers he makes to tempt her into opening the door, but he possesses a bargaining chip she could never have imagined.

On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy’s allies are fragmented, lost, and leaderless. They must learn to work together as they gather more candidates and begin training to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve. While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy’s life.

A choice will be made. The veil will change. The worlds as Tanzy knows them will never be the same.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @jadiejones1 , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://www.jadiejones.com/
Twitter: @Parliamentbooks
Facebook: Author Jadie Jones The Parliament House

 

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Book Promo · Books · Cover Reveal · Pre-order · The Parliament House Press · Upcoming Releases

Cover Reveal: The Weaver (Book 1) by Heather Kindt

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: The Weaver
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Series: Weaver Trilogy
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Author: Heather Kindt
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~*~ COVER REVEAL ~*~

Another Cover Reveal for another beautiful book!

Isn’t this gorgeous?!

The Weaver is a NA/Paranormal Romance about a girl named Laney who is a Weaver, someone who possesses the ability to bring their writing to life. Literally. As a writer, Laney comes up with detailed and wildly different types of characters, which turns to turmoil quickly as they begin moving from fictional to real.

~Click here to add this to your Goodreads list!~

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Book Synopsis

Most writers choose the endings to their stories . . . most writers are not Weavers.

Laney Holden is a freshman at Madison College whose life goes from normal to paranormal in a matter of seconds. When the antagonist in the book she’s writing shoves her down the stairs at the subway station, she learns she is a Weaver. Weavers bridge the narrow gap between fantasy and reality, bringing their words to life.

Laney soon meets William whom she also suspects is a character from her book—one she’s had a mad crush on since her pen hit the paper. But he’s in danger as her antagonist reveals a whole different ending planned for Laney’s book that involves killing William. Laney must use her writing to save the people closest to her by weaving the most difficult words she will ever write.

THE WEAVER is the first installment of The Weaver trilogy. It is an NA paranormal romance set in a small town on the north shore of Boston. It will leave you wanting more.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @heatherkintweaver , @theparliamentpress
Website: http://www.heatherkindt.com/
Twitter: @Parliamentbooks
Facebook: The Parliament House

 

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Books · Promo Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Promo Blitz: Two Thousand Years Special Edition by M. Dalto

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Two Thousand Years (Special Edition)
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Series: The Empire Saga
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Author: M. Dalto
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This beautiful edition of Two Thousand Years is available NOW, but hurry – There are ONLY 30 copies available while supplies last!

Book Purchase Links:
Special Edition: The Parliament House Press – Two Thousand Years, The Special Edition Hard Cover
Kindle E-Book: Amazon.com – Two Thousand Years by M. Dalto
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In celebration of the GOT premiere, The Parliament House Press and author M. Dalto are re-releasing a special edition hardcover of Two Thousand Years! It even includes both of the Empire Saga novellas – Reylor’s Lament and Treyan’s Promise, with a bonus chapter from the second book in the series, Mark of the Empress!!!

THERE ARE ONLY 30 SPECIAL EDITION COPIES AVAILABLE!

~ The FIRST 15 people to purchase a Two Thousand Years special edition will ALSO receive a signed bookplate from the author, AND will get 20% off their purchase in The Parliament House shop.

Sounds amazing, right?!

But don’t worry, if the special edition copies sell out, the original E-Book is on sale for 0.99 cents today!

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There is also a GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a Signed Paperback Copy of Two Thousand Years, and a Digital E-Book of Two Thousand Years.

Head over to me Bookstagram to enter!

@JenacideByBibliophile

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Book Synopsis

Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire’s torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice – or her fate – that determines how she survives the Empire’s rising conflicts.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @author.mdalto , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/
Facebook: M.Dalto – Author , The Parliament House
Twitter: @MDalto421 , @Parliamentbooks

 

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Book Promo · Books · Promo Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Promo Blitz: Cursed: The Hunter Inside by Casey M. Millette

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Cursed: The Hunter Inside
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Series: Cursed Series (Book #1)
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Author: Casey M. Millette
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Happy Tuesday book annihilators!

This week I have partnered up again with The Parliament House to share this Promo Blitz for Cursed: The Hunter Inside, the first book in the Cursed series by Casey M. Millette!

The Cursed series is a YA/High Fantasy adventure story for readers who love Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. It is an action-packed story with tons of mythical creatures, and is just dripping in detail! Also, the author wrote this when she was just sixteen!! If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

The E-Book is on sale for .99 cents today, so go get it!!

Amazon.com – Cursed: The Hunter Inside by Casey M. Millette

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Book Synopsis

A war rages between kings and clans for centuries, their nations split and their kingdoms fallen. Caught in the midst of poverty and bedlam, twenty-year-old Aldor faces a choice. Should he leave home and start his life anew, or stay and protect what little he has?

Aldor has only made one friend in his life and has never seen a legendary creature before. As soon as he steps beyond his door, he finds himself an outlaw, hunted by creatures of pure fantasy.

Forced into joining a team of misfits in a race to recover a sacred, lost stone, Aldor finds unexpected friendships and adventure. But just as things start to look promising, disaster strikes, wielding the unexpected and the terrifying!

Aldor’s life will never be the same as he struggles with true feelings of fear, loss, love, and suffering for the very first time.

 

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @warriorcasey5 , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://caseymillette.com/
Facebook: The Parliament House

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Wrap-up · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #13: March Book Wrap-Up

Another Day, another Week, Another MONTH!
WOOOOO! Can you feel it?
Those Spring vibes!!!
Can you feel it in your bones?! Don’t you wanna just DANCE?!

New Books, new themes, new characters, NEW EVERYTHING!
BYE MARCH! It was nice knowin’ ya!
But we’re leaving you behind and dancing into April like…

But first, let’s recap.

 

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~ * ~ March Book Wrap-Up ~ * ~

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1. We Set the Dark on Fire (Book 1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set The Dark on Fire

So I’ll admit, March started off a little bit on the s****y side for me.

BUT, Bad Books + Forced Positive Outlooks = No F****s Given!

We Set the Dark on Fire is set in a world where girls are trained at a young age how best to serve men they are eventually purchased as a wife. In this world, each man has two wives, one for giving him children and the other to be his right hand. The story starts as our main character, Daniela, is approaching graduation and the start of her new life as a Primera, helping her husband and serving him in any way she can. But she has a past she is trying to keep hidden, and to keep her secret she is forced into making a deal with a rebel group. Basically the rest of the story is her acting as a spay…blah blah blah.

It’s not a bad book, I just didn’t really care for it. My mind kept wandering while reading, there was an exaggerated use of detail that took away from the story, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters.

Oh well.

(See my review here)

 

2. Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar

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This book of poetry will make your heart sing.

There are countless poems in here that EVERYONE can connect or relate to. It is a book of poetry for every soul, and it is just so damn beautiful.

Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, and some just make you want to do a little dance with hearts in your eyes.

These poems just make you feel GOOD.

Here is one of my favorites:

It only takes

a second or two

to look into their eyes

and decide

whether you’re home

or at just another

perfectly decorated house

 

Okay…one more.

 

You’re the moon

and the world is

a lonely wolf; it cries

at the sight of you

for you are glorious

and so out of reach

 

3. Bloodleaf (Book 1) by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf

What a lovely beginning of March it was.

Like a roller coaster.

First it went down, then it went up.

And then, it went down again.

Bloodleaf is the retelling of “The Goose Girl” and has royals, magic, murder and…a pacing that is way too fast for a series.

It is about a young girl named Aurelia, who is the princess of Renalt. In Renalt, anyone who is suspected of wielding magic or being a witch is put to death. So when the secret comes out the Aurelia is…UH Oh…a witch, she is forced to leave. The destination? The kingdom of Achleva, where the prince she is betrothed to resides.

Along the way her traveling party turns against her, her “friend” takes her place as the princess, and they leave her for dead. The rest of the story is how she makes her way into Achleva, meets a mysterious guy named Zan, and they both try to save the kingdom.

For me, the story went WAY too fast considering it is supposed to be a series. I wanted the author to drag out scenes more, help me get to know the characters better, have a CONNECTION. But no such luck.

(See my review here)

 

4. As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery, Book 3) by Kathleen Valenti

As Directed

Oh s**t, we’re back in it!

Toss out EVERY one of those other Suspense Thrillers you have collecting dust on your over-stuffed shelves!

Allow Kathleen Valenti to come into your life, fill you with snarky characters, bask you in the sunlight of witty metaphors and countless twists and turns.

Obviously, this is the third book in this series. Did I read books 1 and 2? No, not yet. But was it necessary to read this WoNDERFUL book.

No.

It is the story of Maggie O’Malley as she starts her new career as a pharmacy technician. One day while walking down the aisles, she trips over an unconscious body, who eventually is pronounced dead. But it starts to get strange when two more bodies are found unconscious in an aisle. Soon the media leaks that there may be a series of poisonings affecting customers. The story continues with Maggie searching for clues as to who the culprit is, and finding some seriously scary stuff along the way.

It is FANTASTIC, please read it. Your inner sleuth begs you

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Stick (Book 1) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks

My March just kept getting BETTER and BETTER!

My dreams came true, and Simon and Schuster sent me a physical ARC of Girls with Sharp Sticks for review…and let me just say…I almost died.

Of EXCITEMENT!

This book, was

It is set in a future that is basically the present, but…sort of the future.

At Innovations Academy, young women are bred for perfection. They are taught manners, to stay in top physical form, and above all else, to be obedient. The girls at Innovations Academy listen to EVERYTHING the men who run the academy tell them, because naturally, they know best. But when one of the girls starts to act out, it starts a chain reaction and many girls start to realize that what they see and know is only the surface of what is really going on.

I know that’s vague. But this book is anything but.

It touches on BIG issues that women face on a daily basis. It will hurt your soul to watch these characters be belittled and hurt, but you will have an overwhelming sense of empowerment by the end. 

(See my review here)

 

6. Alarum (Walking Shadows, Book 1) by Talis Jones

Alarum

Allow me to introduce you to the reason for my new obsession with Dystopian Westerns.

The U.S. has fallen, and in its wake is a lawless country. Children have been ripped from their families, pushed into Corrals, trained to be soldiers and slaves, and then sold to the highest bidder. This story follows a girl with many names, as she traverses this new world and tries to make sense of it.

It is EVERYTHING I could hope for in a Dystopian Western. As a lover of Mad Max, this story is just dripping in female badassery that closely embodies the goddess Imperator Furiosa.

I am currently Beta reading for book 2 in the series (YAY) and I cannot wait to finish it. This series is going to be addicting and so enjoyable to read!

(See my review here)

 

7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

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I haven’t done my review for this yet, but SOON, I promise.

The Truth About About Alice should be required reading in every high school.

Each chapter switches back and forth between characters, who are all gossiping and talking about Alice. It is a story of rumors, of the cruelty that your peers can bestow on you, and the strength it takes to stand up against it.

I really loved reading this story, and can’t believe I waited this long to get to it!

 

8. White Rose by Kip Wilson

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You might want to cry, but don’t.

White Rose is a book of celebration.

White Rose is based on a true story and follows Sophie Scholl as she joins an anti-Nazi resistance group called, you guessed it, White Rose. It flips back and forth between the “before” and the “end” of her time in the group. With several other German University students, Sophie and the group created leaflets that spoke out against the tyranny and oppression of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler.

The group distributed the leaflets all over Germany, in the hopes that it would compel others who craved a Germany that embodied justice, to rise up. Though the story ends with the death of Sophie and Hans School, and Christoph Probst being convicted of treason and sentenced to death; it is a beautiful and inspiring story about young people who stood up when few others would. 

But the best aspect of this story, is that the entire book is in poems. It gives each scene and character an incredible voice, and it was SUCH a pleasure and gift to read.

(See my review here)

 

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I hope your March ended as wonderful as mine did!
But that’s in the past!
HELLO APRIL!!

Stay Witchy!! XoXo

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: Perfect for fans of RED QUEEN and UPROOTED, Crystal Smith’s debut novel, BLOODLEAF, is an imaginative retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” that takes a ghostly mystery and sets it inside an epic fantasy world.

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

Opinion:

Bloodleaf.

A Retelling.

Witches, Magic, Royals, Murder.

Two Kingdoms. One Arranged Marriage.

And a really big wall.

So……..

is that it?

Bloodleaf is a retelling of “The Goose Girl” and tracks Princess Aurelia as she is forced to travel from her kingdom of Renalt to the kingdom of Achleva, after she is accused of being a witch. With an arranged marriage set between Aurelia and the sick prince of Achleva, Aurelia moves towards her set future with only duty propelling her forward. But when members of her entourage turn on her and attempt an assassination, Aurelia finds that a girl in her traveling party has taken her place and has entered Achleva disguised as the Princess, with her younger brother, the Prince, in tow. Alone and starving, Aurelia must try to make her way into Achleva to make things right and save her brother. But a run-in with a young man named Zan, and the threat of the wall of Achleva being shattered, Aurelia must decide if she should cower or use her powers to protect.

Bloodleaf isn’t terrible.

I actually found it to be a semi-enjoyable and quick read. But it’s never a good sign when reading a book, that you begin to feel like…you’re just reading a book. Especially when said book is in the fantasy genre and promises magic, witches, poison and bloodshed. When I see “fantasy” next to a book, I know to expect a story and world that I would sell every possession I own to be in. I’m a hopeless dreamer and romantic, so I obviously look for books that will reflect the things that I cannot just physically manifest with a snap of my fingers (i.e. fae, magic, witches, royals, rebellion that actually works).

With that said, Bloodleaf had a ton of great qualities…but the continuous theme of rushed scenes, lax explanations, and a romance that feels rather out of nowhere, has left me feeling rather disappointed. The story started out great, pulling me in with the promise of death and an ever-fascinating, yet depressing, witch hunt. But as the story continues, I am left feeling like there were gaping holes begging to be filled, and several opportunities missed to envelop the reader into this magical world.

Seeing as how this is supposed to be a series, I am left REALLY confused as to why things were skipped over or so hurriedly explained? The author could have taken the time to allow me to connect with the characters and learn about them, rather than just give me a watery reflection of who they are. The plot felt rushed, the villain was overly obvious, and it just left a bland taste in my mouth. This story had SO much potential, but it fell incredibly flat for me and left me annoyed because it only needed some slight tweaking to be AMAZING.

I found Aurelia to be a decent character, but her development was incomplete. She grew up in a kingdom where witches are hunted and magic is kept secret, especially her own. But when she is in Achleva and beginning to use her magic and control it, it seems like one moment she has no handle on it and then the next she just knows what she’s doing.

 

I kept feeling like she was just materializing into this character the author wanted her to blossom into, without there being any represented moments or time of her doing so. SHOW ME, DON’T TELL ME! She came across as a character who could have developed more and been given a bit more substance, because she just ended up one-dimensional and simplistic. In regards to Zan, he was slightly better off in the creative department, but still didn’t meet the potential of what he could have been. He was witty, charming, sarcastic and slightly arrogant (which I loved), but there also wasn’t enough put into molding his character. ESPECIALLY when it came to the romance between Aurelia and Zan! The relationship made me feel so confused and flustered because of how forced it was. At one point they are just regular ol’ chums, and the next they are madly in love?!?!?! Can I just get a little romance build, please?!

Overall the story started off strong, but it just wasn’t tied together as much as I would have liked. It isn’t a horrible book and I think most of you will enjoy it, but it isn’t up there with ACOTAR or The Folk of the Air books by way of how the story builds and unfolds, or the characters. I would say that this is probably one of those stories you just have to try for yourself, because I think there will be a lot of mixed opinions on it. I just know that for me, Bloodleaf twas a dud.

3-stars

 

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