Book Review: Legendary

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The game continues and Legendary (the second book of the Caraval series) follows the younger, carefree sister, Donatella. There are promises to fulfill and more mysteries to solve. But the answers she is looking for will require the greatest sacrifice.

The magic keeps getting better. There was so much revealed in this book that added to the complexity of the world. Everything that I thought I knew about the game was turned upside down again. I love how the author was able to keep the game just as interesting and magical as the first time around.

Tella was a wonderful character to follow. She is brave if not reckless and keeps secrets of her own. I was very pleased by how complex she was as a character and wanted to see her succeed. Even though she is very different from her sister, I loved that they compliment each other and help one another grow in ways that they would not have otherwise.

And did I mention the romance yet? No? Well, there is more of that waiting for you in this sequel. Despite Tella’s aversion to the idea of falling in love, her journey to romance swept me off my feet. I enjoyed all of her interactions with a certain someone I shall not name but let’s just say they were… legendary.

Ha, see what I did there?

Ha… ha…. okay, I’ll stop.

Overall, I loved this book and I have already bought and started reading the last installment of this series. I cannot wait!

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Content

  • Heat Level: Clean
  • YA
  • Fantasy Romance
  • #2 in the Caraval series

Favorite Quote

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

Stephanie Garber

Book Blurb

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun. 

Book Review: Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scarlett has dreamed of Caraval–a place of magic and wishes. However, she is trapped on her island, promised to be married to a man she has never met. When her sister, Donatella, schemes to take them both to Caraval, nothing is as it seems and Scarlett must race against time to win the game.

I was recommended this book and wow… I loved it.

Caraval is a magical place that swept me off my feet. The magic is whimsical and I loved that timeless, yet odd aura that the game exuded. It was definitely an Alice and Wonderland and creepy carnival mashup.

Scarlett was a very sympathetic character to me. I could relate to her anxieties and fears very well. I liked that she was a worried sister anxious to return home to avoid their father’s wrath. Even though she thought of those things often, it did not bother me in the slightest because I felt like it was real. She was a real person who was very scared and I would be thinking of those things as often as she did as well. As an anxious person myself, I can attest to the obsessive thoughts and so I believe the author nailed that on the head.

The plot was also very intriguing to me. There were so many surprises that kept me on my toes. Everything that I had guessed would happen, the plot would take and turn on its head. It was a trip that I really enjoyed all the way to the end.

Writing-wise, I enjoyed Garber’s whimsical metaphors. It is very poetic and feels very… “Alice and Wonderland” to me which I appreciated. Some may not like the way she writes, things like:

“He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue. Colors that made her feel safe and guarded.”

Stephanie Garber

I know tasting midnight is impossible but it does provide interesting imagery for the reader to interpret. And honestly? I like it and I believe it added to the overall atmosphere of the book.

I also enjoyed the romance and felt that despite the short amount of time Scarlett had with Julian, their relationship progressed naturally. Honestly, I was surprised by how it all turned out but was also very pleased as well.

In all, Caraval is a fun book filled with twists and turns and above all: magic. I also loved the themes of getting over your fears and learning to be bold and take fate into your own hands. I struggle with being brave and taking chances in life and so I feel like this was a book that spoke to me personally. I cannot wait to read the sequel.



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Book Information

  • Heat level: Clean
  • Content Warning: Parental abuse and suicide
  • Audience: Young Adult
  • Genre: Fantasy Romance

Favorite Quote

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

Stephanie Garber

Book Blurb

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.

Book Review: The Clown

The Clown by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is no way out and Cora has finally accepted her fate. Stuck in an “inversion”–a pocket dimension–her attraction for a dangerous man deepens. But, acceptance does not mean peace and there are other dangers in the form of smiling faces. 

The writing in this story is phenomenal. Kingsley has always captured my heart by the poetic way she strings words together. It is modern, dark, but also classic in a “creepy-vintage-circus” way that I love. 

Cora continues to be my favorite in this series. I am really attached to her and love the way she handles situations. She is growing as a character and really blooming into her new role in the Faire. I also love how organic and sweet her interactions are with Clown. Although his intentions are vague and ominous, his POV was a welcome addition to the story. 

As for Simon? His wicked antics were amped UP. The reader is reminded again that he is not a “good” man and he is very much still insane. There were moments where I was turned off by his toxic behavior but Kingsley still does a good job stating that these behaviors are NOT right but this is who he is. Despite this, he proved to have other sides that were soft and fluffy. 

The first two books did not have any sex in them but this book seems to have made up for that fact. The heat level is REAL my friends. If you were wondering when that was going to happen… trust me, you will find it here. However, I was a little disappointed by how it all led to that moment. The first two books were leading up to this and yet, it fell a little flat to me. 

I personally read romance for the romance and not the sex and there was an abundance of it. But for those who look for that in your books, it was… NOT vanilla to say the least. Despite this, I still enjoyed it and understand that this is an adult book, a DARK one at that, and those who want that HEAT will be very pleased. 

Plot-wise, there was not a whole lot going on besides Cora and Simon’s relationship. I really like that but I found that I was not devouring this one as much as the first two. The ending, however, was great and I was pleased by the outcome.

In all, I enjoyed it and will come back for more.


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Favorite Quote

“First of all, I’m not your boss. Second of all, I’m not stupid enough to waste my breath. And third, I don’t want to fix you, Simon.” She snickered. “Anybody who looks at you and goes, ‘he’s just moody and misunderstood, I can fix him with a little casual sex,’ needs to get their own freaking head examined.” She set down her coffee mug. “I know exactly who you are. Do I approve of your puppets? No. But I didn’t go into this naïve. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is.”

Book Blurb

A friendly face and laughing heart…will be what tears her soul apart.

Finally accepting that there would be no leaving Harrow Faire, Cora sets out to try to find her new way of life as part of the Family. With that comes her slow acceptance of her attraction toward and, even worse, her feelings for the Puppeteer.

But just as things seemed to be falling into a pattern, things turn upside down—seemingly literally—as Harrow Faire enters “the Inversion.” And her troubles don’t end there when the mute Clown takes a keen interest in her. One that she doesn’t understand until it’s too late.

Mr. Harrow took her from her life to become the Contortionist. But it seems…the Faire itself has other plans.
__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Clown—book three of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

ARC Review: Bloodscourge

Bloodscourge by Sydney Winward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elisabeta is a skilled thief, forced to live off of her plunders and stolen goods. When her twin brother hears word that there is a treasure worth more than gold, she sets out to take it. However, the treasure is hidden in the vampire city and the captain of the guard holds the key. As a human, going into the vampire city is like going into the den of lions but she will do whatever it takes to obtain it, even if it means seducing the brute Dracula.

From the beginning, I was captivated. Call me old school, but I love a good vampire story and this did not disappoint. The author’s take on vampires is unique with bits of familiarity: no sunlight or reflections here.

I was also very happy about Dracula. Even though he is not your traditional “I vant to suck your blood” kind of Dracula, I could tell that the author did her research and was making nods to the man who inspired the myth and legend: Vlad the impaler. I loved seeing bits of that history in this version. Not only that, he is a big brute that you cannot help but love. He is a little rough around the edges with a squishy, soft interior for those he calls his family.

His interactions with Elisabeta are simply delectable. Her sassy attitude mixes well with his “tough guy” exterior and they have awesome chemistry together. This book is filled with flirting and “almost” moments that make you squeal and sigh.

I also really liked Elisabeta as a character. Although she is very flawed and may make decisions that you want to pull your hair out over, you cannot help but feel for her and her situation. Without giving too much away, I appreciated how the author handles abuse and how abuse victims may act under certain circumstances. It is not always pretty but it’s real.

In all, I loved this book and I am excited to read the next installment.

For those who love vampires and who want to see a fresh, new take on them and Dracula will love this story. If you also love romance, emotional rollercoasters, and happy endings, this is the book for you.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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Content Warning

Behind the door sex scene, and themes of abuse and child death.

Buy The Book

Bloodscourge will be available on March 1, 2021

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books

Favorite Quote

“Now look what you did,” he said quietly. “You just broke the rules.”

Panic clutched her from the inside out. “What? I thought the Game had no rules.”

“Not that game,” he said, rolling his eyes. Her breath hitched as he trailed his thumb across her bottom lip. “This one. Distracting me in battle.”

She trembled beneath his touch. He had never looked at her that way before, with an intense passion seeping from his eyes. Warmth spread from her toes to her fingertips to her heart and to her lips that desperately wanted to be kissed. Right then, seducing him no longer mattered because she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to use him for her own personal gains. But what did matter was how close he was, close enough to feel his breath on her skin.

Book Blurb

Fate has given her a second chance. The only things Elisabeta knows how to do is lie, cheat, and swindle. When her brother learns of a treasure worth kingdoms lying in the heart of Ichor Knell, the great vampire city, he sends her to steal it. However, the key to the treasury is safeguarded by the captain of the guard, a brute named Dracula.

Dracula cannot resist the beautiful and mysterious Elisabeta. As danger erupts in Ichor Knell, he is forced into a precarious position to resist the evil within the city and to protect his family and the woman he cares for immensely.

Despite the connection he feels for her, the secrets she hides could be deadly to them both. Will the truth tie them for eternity or set them on a path of destruction?

Book Review: The Puppeteer

The Puppeteer by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora is now trapped in a world she had believed to be impossible. Yet, she refuses to accept her fate. She will fight until she is free but will it cost more than she bargained for?

The second installment of the Harrow Faire series did not disappoint. Kingsley is gifted with story-telling and creating complex characters that I never thought I would root for. I was looking forward to learning more about our insane Puppeteer and I was delighted by the outcome.

Although Simon is insane and by no means innocent, he is full of charm and wit that pulls you in for more. I loved that despite his misgivings, there were lines that he was not willing to cross which made him more likable and sympathetic.

Cora was amazing. Simply amazing. I love her so much and I am more than happy that she recognizes how to pick her battles and when she picks them? She goes all out. I chuckled more than once during some of her interactions with Simon and loved that she was sensible as always.

I was also charmed by the romance. I am usually not so forgiving when it comes to toxic relationships but Kingsley has masterfully handled this one very well. Both characters are imperfect but they both grow and learn together. It’s dark but also complex enough to keep me interested.

Overall, I cannot get enough of this series and am off to read book three!

Tata!


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Content Warning

Language and suggestive, sexual conversations. 18+

Favorite Quote

“I’m not brave. All I’ve done is panic since I got here.”

“Is that so?” He was still stroking her cheek. She didn’t know when she stopped being afraid of his touch. All it left behind now was warmth, and a strange electricity that crackled through her. He hummed thoughtfully. “I am not so sure. You came here to save your friend, knowing it would be your own demise. You have stood up to me at every opportunity. I think you are not as weak as you have come to believe.”

Book Blurb

Silver strings she can’t outrun…her trouble now has just begun.

After Cora Glass’s life was stolen by Harrow Faire, things just keep going from bad to worse. Unable to run, unable to escape, there seems to be no way to avoid what she’s become—the Contortionist. But a girl can only take so much.

Haunted by an abandoned and seemingly sentient circus? Fine.
The life of her best friend threatened unless she sacrificed herself? Fine.
Tormented and stalked by a grinning madman who wanted to kill her, and now wants to do worse? That’s where Cora has to draw the line.

As she struggles with the knowledge that magic is real and she will never go home again, she is also forced to contend with the advances of a man who may be the devil himself. And just like the tales of old, she finds herself drawn to him. If only Harrow Faire would slow down and give her a second to catch her breath.

Too bad that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Puppeteer—book two of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Bloodscourge: Book Tour with Author Sydney Winward

Sydney Winward

Title: Bloodscourge #3 in The Bloodborn Series

Book Release Date: March 1, 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Cover Artist: Abigail Owen

Genre: Adult Paranormal romance

Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today, Sydney!

I am a big fan of your Bloodborn series. I do have to say, though, vampires have been creatures of interest in popular media and fans like myself can’t get enough of them. What inspired you to write about them? 

Honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing about them at all. But I came across an interesting prompt on Pinterest that I wanted to try out, and it ended up turning into a book, and later a series. Part of my writing process involves drawing character inspiration from pictures, so when I found the two perfect images for the main characters, that helped inspire me as well.

I love that your inspiration came from pictures, that is so unique. I have also heard that this is your favorite book that you have written in your Bloodborn series. That makes me so excited. What about this book makes it unique from the rest? 

I’d have to say the characters. Dracula is very different from what I have written so far. He’s fearsome. Brash. A bit sadistic. But he has a heart of gold. Or stone. It depends on who you ask. He’s willing to do absolutely anything for family, even to his very last breath.

Elisabeta was fun to write as well. Despite being squashed by her brother’s thumb, she’s brave enough to walk into the heart of the vampire city of Ichor Knell as a human disguised as a vampire. Unlike Dracula, she’s very selfish and willing to do horrible things to get what she wants. The two of them make an interesting pair.

Oooh, an interesting pair indeed! Speaking of your characters, Dracula is an iconic figure for horror and paranormal fans alike. Where did you draw inspiration for your new, exciting version of Dracula?  

After writing Bloodborn, when Dracula is first mentioned, I realized he had such a sad backstory, and he needed happiness of his own. Even if that happiness was found 1000 years before Bloodborn. I had to tell his story. I drew a lot of inspiration from the original Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Dracula), but I put my own twist on him.

I love that you took inspiration from history and I am even happier that he can have his own love story. Now a question from a fan: Where would I find Dracula in Ichor Knell?  

In Bloodscourge, Dracula is far from the King of the Vampires yet. In fact, he’s the captain of the guard. A poor peasant with little to offer a future mate. He spends most of his time training recruits and taking care of those he calls his family when the danger in Ichor Knell reaches its peak.

What a noble man–err, vampire! I have a soft spot for strong, caring love interests. Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?

I prefer writing in complete silence, though music does often inspire scenes in my books. The perfect song for Dracula’s book is Natural by Imagine Dragons.

That is a great song for Dracula! Now a little more about you. What is your all-time favorite movie?

Ooooh. I have a few. I love Stardust, the live-action Cinderella, Lord of the Rings, Little Women, How to Train Your Dragon.

Ah, I am so happy that we have similar tastes! What superpower would you like to have?

Shapeshifting would be the coolest superpower. If I could transform into any person or animal, that would be awesome. I’ve always liked Mystique from X-Men.

Shapeshifting would be bomb, not going to lie. Which is your favorite season to write in and why?

Either Spring or Fall. I love to write when it’s dark outside at night and rain is coming down hard on the roof. Even better if I crack open a window to let the smell of rain into the room.

That sounds so nice–to be able to write while it’s raining. There’s something nostalgic about that kind of setting. Speaking of, if you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

I had to look up places with cool castles. Some things that often come up in my fantasy/paranormal books are castles, forests, and rivers. So I’d say the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.

Haha! I had to look it up as well and–wow! That is a gorgeous castle. So dreamy! On a different note, for aspiring authors like myself, what advice would you give to those writers starting out?

Whether you plan to self-publish or traditionally publish, definitely produce a polished, finished product. Good editing. Professional cover. And above all, patience. It’s exciting to get a book out, but if the quality isn’t so great because of it, then it will only hurt you in the end.

I love that. Patience is a virtue so they say! Thank you for the advice, Sydney. And lastly, are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am soooo in love with my current WIP. I spent several months trying to figure out what my next project would be. I sifted through writing prompts. I looked at dozens of pictures for character inspiration. And finally after a long, frustrating time of waiting for inspiration to hit me, I found my next project.

It’s about a fae prince whose brother is so jealous of his magic that he kills the woman he loves and forces him to work as a slave while the rest of the world thinks he’s dead. No matter how many times he’s tried to escape his enslavement, he fails every time. It’s only when the operation is thwarted by a group of Valkyries intent on killing every man they come across when he finds hope for the very first time. Instead of killing him, a Valkyrie rescues him. However, if her Valkyrie sisters find out her secret, she could be killed.

“He was a survivor. And survivors were the most dangerous kinds of people.”

Oooh! That sounds so intriguing! I am so excited for this to be published. But, thank you so much for stopping by, Sydney. We can’t wait to get our hands on Bloodscourge.

Book Blurb

Fate has given her a second chance. The only things Elisabeta knows how to do is lie, cheat, and swindle. When her brother learns of a treasure worth kingdoms lying in the heart of Ichor Knell, the great vampire city, he sends her to steal it. However, the key to the treasury is safeguarded by the captain of the guard, a brute named Dracula.


Dracula cannot resist the beautiful and mysterious Elisabeta. As danger erupts in Ichor Knell, he is forced into a precarious position to resist the evil within the city and to protect his family and the woman he cares for immensely.


Despite the connection he feels for her, the secrets she hides could be deadly to them both. Will the truth tie them for eternity or set them on a path of destruction?

Excerpt

“Now look what you did,” he said quietly. “You just broke the rules.”

Panic clutched her from the inside out. “What? I thought the Game had no rules.”

“Not that game,” he said, rolling his eyes. Her breath hitched as he trailed his thumb across her bottom lip. “This one. Distracting me in battle.”

She trembled beneath his touch. He had never looked at her that way before, with an intense passion seeping from his eyes. Warmth spread from her toes to her fingertips to her heart and to her lips that desperately wanted to be kissed. Right then, seducing him no longer mattered because she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to use him for her own personal gains. But what did matter was how close he was, close enough to feel his breath on her skin. 

“Kiss me,” she breathed, not able to handle the tension anymore.

“Dear Elisabeta,” he grinned wickedly, “that’s not how this game works. There are rules.”

He kissed her below her ear, and her heart nearly collapsed as the tension thickened. It was all she could do to force out her words. “I don’t like rules.”

“I’ve noticed,” he whispered in her ear.

About Sydney Winward

Sydney Winward is a multi-published author born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

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Book Review: Contortionist

The Contortionist by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora lives a mundane life, plagued by chronic pain. All of her dreams and goals have been put to a halt and she resigns herself to a boring job that she’s overqualified for. But when a certain circus comes to town, Cora wishes to relive some of her childhood joy. However, things are not what they seem and something strange lurks within. 

Read this just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. Kathryn Ann Kingsley has captivated me again with this dark, horror romance. I have not read any circus themed books before and boy was I missing out. Kingsley crafts a tale that perfectly blends mystery and creepiness that devoured me whole.

Cora is an extremely likable and sympathetic character. Her voice throughout the story was well-balanced and interesting to read. I was also impressed by the way her chronic pain was portrayed throughout the story. I myself do not suffer from any chronic pain, but I have a brother in law who does. I applaud the author for the raw, and honest portrayal of such afflictions. 

And the Puppeteer? Oooh! Talk about creepy. This character is deliciously insane with a mysterious past that I am dying to read about. I love that his possessiveness of Cora turns her off and she is ready to GTFO. All of their interactions together felt real. There was never a moment where I rolled my eyes and said, “girl, really?” Cora is very level-headed and she knows danger when she sees it. She is not stupid and she reacts like a normal person. 

However, I am genuinely curious to see how their relationship develops in the sequel. I finished the book in one day and I downloaded the sequel equally as fast. I cannot wait. 

To end, all I have to say is, “don’t go through the dark path!”

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Content Warning

Dark, creepy shenanigans. But, otherwise clean read.

Favorite quote

Not all monsters needed a scary backdrop to be terrifying. In fact, some were more frightening without one.

Book Blurb

Come one, come all, to Harrow Faire…and greet your sweetest nightmare.

Cora Glass’s humdrum existence as a bank teller flips upside down when a long-abandoned circus mysteriously returns to life. But the entry fee to this big top show is far more than Cora bargained for.

A deal struck.
A soul…stuck.

As Harrow Faire shines a spotlight on Cora, she discovers there are far more secrets in that three-ring nightmare than she could possibly imagine. Trapped in the world of the fiendish and alluring man known as the Puppeteer, Cora finds herself caught in a war between him and the reclusive Mr. Harrow. Both parties will stop at nothing—even murder—to get what they want.

And what they want…is her.

__________________
If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Contortionist—book one of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Most Romantic Movie

I thought long and hard about this topic. I kept thinking about all the romantic films and books I have watched/read and had a difficult time determining which was the “most” romantic. However, there was one film that I had watched recently that I could not get out of my head.

Despite how you may feel about this film, I believe that the 2005 Pride and Prejudice is one of the most romantic movies I have ever watched.

Here is why:

The Music

Have you listened to the soundtrack recently?

There is something most… utterly enchanting and calming about that score. Even after watching it for the first time, there was something so nostalgic and beautiful that transported me to a far-off dreamy place.

I fall in love every time.

The Cinematography

Not only does the film sound good, it looks just as breathtaking. I mean…

C’mon:

The aesthetic just exudes romance.

Everything Else…

And by that I mean:

When they look at each other and then everyone else in the room just disappears! *sigh*

That hand flex. Okay?

Gosh.

Let me tell you…

I swooned.

Not many movies have made me feel the same way as Mr. Darcy doing something as mundane as walking in the early dawn to meet his Elizabeth.

I rest my case.

Honorable Mention

Another film that made me feel similarly (score, cinematography, etc.) is this beautiful movie:

Just… gorgeous.

And the music? Just as magical.

I highly recommend it.

Let me know what romantic movies or books you love too. Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

ARC Review: Spires

Spires by Briar Lee Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something lurks beneath an old, German Cathedral–something dangerous and predatory. Vampire. When an explosion of fire releases Villicus from his prison, the creature escapes bent on revenge. His bloodlust cannot be contained and those who cruelly imprisoned him will be punished.

If you are looking for your next classic vampire story, look no further. From the first page, I was captivated. The premise grabbed me and I wanted to read more about Villicus and his plight of revenge. Although omniscient, the story is a well-crafted horror story filled with mysteries and violence. Add a dash of romance and you have Spires: a modern, gothic tale of vampires who seek power, money, and blood.

I love some good ol’ fashion horror in my books from time to time and Mitchell’s vampires did not disappoint. These creatures are terrifying and they hold no love in their hearts for humans. I love that they are actually monsters transformed and are not your typical, sympathetic creatures that are popular in media today.

Even though the story is told from multiple points of view, I was never confused about who we were following next. It was well executed and made for a well-rounded story.

I did dock points for my feelings about the ending which I felt was a little rushed and confusing.

In all, if you want to read something modern, a little frightening, and a little romantic, Spires is the book for you.

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Content Warning

Violence, sexual themes, and death

Favorite Quote

The years of waiting were over. Those who had imprisoned him, the same who had made him, must be found and dealt with. Villicus had a purpose again. He had survived.

Book Blurb

An explosion in a chemical factory turns an ancient German cathedral into an inferno. Unable to save the centuries-old structure, firemen and townspeople watch in horror and sadness as the venerable building, standing since the time of Charlemagne, crumbles to the ground in flames, smoke and ash.

The true horror though, is what had been imprisoned deep beneath the stone monstrosity and is released into an unsuspecting world. Villicus Shanks, a powerful vampire during the Middle Ages, a time when vampires warred amongst themselves to feed on the few humans left alive during the plague, was imprisoned by those who feared him the most—his own kind.

Let loose back into a world brimming with money, greed, power, and huge herds of people, Villicus’s thirst for blood and revenge seems unquenchable until he meets Amanda Brax, a human woman, who steals the heart he thought he no longer possessed. His love for her is tested when he finds the two vampires who imprisoned him, Bale and Nikonar. The two bloodsuckers, who are shocked at his surviving such a lonely and devastating imprisonment, seek his destruction once more by trying to take Amanda from him.

Book Review: The Unseen Heir

The Unseen Heir by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Against all odds, Leisa has returned to her kingdom, bent on warning those she loves of the dangers beyond their borders. She carries a promise to return to the man who once guarded over her but unforeseen obstacles keep them apart… but for how long?

As soon as I finished the first book, The Faceless Mage, I downloaded the sequel and devoured it in one day. I was hooked.

I loved the first book for its slow-burn story filled with political intrigue but the sequel is packed with twists and turns and exciting action. I could not put the book down and I was excited to read what our lovable characters would do next.

Leisa is a great character who is determined to do her part. She does not back down even when she could be in danger. Her fierce bravery and loyalty were admirable characteristics and I wanted to see her succeed. Kyrion on the other hand is just a big, lovable hunk. I love his character arc and was pleased that he learned something valuable at the end as well.

One of my favorite things about this book is how intense the chemistry between the characters are. Even though it is a clean read, the author does a fantastic job at building these electric “almost” moments that reduced me into an internally squealing middle-schooler.

There were many moments where I was like Jake from Adventure Time:

You know it’s good when you’re anticipating that kiss scene. But, I applaud the author for making those “will they?” scenes into a swoon fest that I’ll treasure forever.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed by this author and this series and will be looking forward to the third book that will be coming out later this year.


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Favorite Quote

How did you know it was me?” For a split second, a tiny smile curved Kyrion’s lips, and it almost stopped Leisa’s heart. He was gorgeous even when he frowned, but when he smiled? He was irresistible. “I told you before,” he said. “I will always recognize you. No matter what face you wear.” “But—” “Always.” His eyes held hers firmly, allowing no room for doubt. No room for anything but her quickening pulse and the rush of blood to her cheeks. Oh, heaven help her, but he was dangerous. And not just with a blade.

Book Blurb

Against all odds, Leisa has returned home to Farhall with news of Garimore’s treachery.

But her reception is far from the hero’s welcome she imagined. Instead, she finds herself a prisoner—to the growing fears and suspicions of a man she once considered a father.

To escape, she must forsake everything she once believed in, and leave behind all hope of answers about her past. But if she stays, it means betraying the fragile trust of the man who saved her life in Garimore.

Torn between her duty and her debt, Leisa is forced to flee with Kyrion, leaving behind the only home she can remember for the uncertain sanctuary of Dunmaren—Kingdom of Shadows, home of the night elves. There Leisa must confront her growing feelings for Kyrion, her fear of her own power, and the hostility of a people on the brink of war.

When dire news arrives from Farhall, both Leisa and Kyrion must decide where their ultimate loyalties lie. Can Kyrion find a path to peace that does not require him to give up the only woman he has ever loved? Or will Leisa have no choice but to save the kingdom she still loves at the cost of her own heart?

If you love adventure, mystery, and slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, discover the Legends of Abreia, a new romantic fantasy series for fans of Sylvia Mercedes, Miranda Honfleur and Shari L. Tapscott!