Blog Tour Review: Kept from Cages by Phil Williams

I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Kept from Cages by Phil Williams. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Kept from Cages (Ikiri Book 1)
Publication Date: 21 September 2020
Genre: Supernatural Action Thriller
Panda Rating:

No one returns from Ikiri.
Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows.
Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?
On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?
Kept From Cages is the first part in an action-packed supernatural thriller duology, filled with eccentric characters and intricately woven mysteries. Start your journey to Ikiri today.

BUY NOW: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

BOOK PROMO: The Kept From Cages ebook will be available for 99p/99c in UK/US Kindle from January 13th–19th.

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Book Review: Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Note: Review originally posted on Goodreads 07 January 2021

Among the Beasts & Briars
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: 20 October 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:


Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.

Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive. 

TL;DR: Mine is an unpopular opinion but I didn’t end up loving this as much as I hoped I would and I was sad about not enjoying it more. If you’re looking for a YA fantasy that’s light on the world building and character development, but has a nice fairytale vibe with “far-off places, magical spells, and a prince in disguise” then I would recommend it!

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ARC Review: The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night

Thanks to the team at Stories Untold for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Crowns of Croswald (The Croswald Series #1)
Publisher: Stories Untold
Publication Date: 21 July 2017
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:


Ivy Lovely is 16 and she has no idea who she is—or what her powers could be. When she crosses a magical boundary, she discovers a whole new world of enchantment and mystery. Making friends that will last a lifetime—and save her life—she steps into her own abilities and discovers more about her hidden past, magical blood, and the power of Croswald’s mystical stones. But all is not well: a dark history and an evil Queen threatens all that is good. Will Ivy’s bravery and wit be enough?

Curious and whimsical, both shy and brave, Ivy is a hero that connects with readers of all ages. For those who wished that Narnia, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland could go on forever, Croswald opens a whole new world of magic. Recommended as a read-aloud for families and a first middle-grade fantasy read, The Crowns of Croswald is a four-part series that will carry readers to a whimsical world that they won’t want to leave. 

I really wanted to love this story. I wanted to love it so much that although I struggled to read it over a period of 2 months, I still persisted in the hopes that it would get better or something about it would click for me. I’m really sad to say that it never happened and it was with a great resounding sigh of relief that I finally came to the last page of this book. I feel terrible leaving a low rating, especially when the author’s team reached out for me to read it, but I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and an honest review I shall give it. It does seem that I’m very much in the minority with my feelings though so perhaps this just really wasn’t for me!

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ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Thanks to NetGalley and JIMMY Patterson for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1)
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Publication Date: 27 October 2020
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Panda Rating:


Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

Let me start off by saying that this is an unpopular opinion about this book 😂

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Blog Tour Review: Steel & Stone by Kate Haley

I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Stone & Steel (The War of the North Saga #1) by Kate Haley. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Stone & Steel (The War of the North #1) Publication Date: 06 May 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Epic Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Ten years. Thousands dead. No memories.

The amnesia was supposed to be a good thing. Other soldiers bask in its freedom. Except for Elvac it doesn’t feel right. When he returns from his first year at war he can’t shake the niggling sensation that something is missing. His life has been turned upside down, yet he can’t remember being gone. The only proof of his time away are the scars, and the haunting dreams of fire.


With the help of his friends, Elvac begins to regain his lost memories, and with them uncover the truth of his missing year, and what the Church of Sunne is really doing with their War of the North…

BUY NOW: Amazon (US)

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ARC Review: Gargantis by Thomas Taylor

Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Gargantis (The Legends of Eerie-On-Sea #2)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 26 May 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy
Panda Rating:


In the second fantasy set in Eerie-on-Sea, Herbert and Violet team up to solve the mystery of the Gargantis — an ancient creature of the deep with the power to create life-threatening storms.

There’s a storm brewing over Eerie-on-Sea, and the fisherfolk say a monster is the cause. Someone has woken the ancient Gargantis, who sleeps in the watery caves beneath this spooky seaside town where legends have a habit of coming to life. It seems the Gargantis is looking for something: a treasure stolen from her underwater lair. And it just might be in the Lost-and-Foundery at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, in the care of one Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder. With the help of the daring Violet Parma, ever-reliable Herbie will do his best to figure out what the Gargantis wants and who stole her treasure in the first place. In a town full of suspicious, secretive characters, it could be anyone!

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Blog Tour Review: The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza. Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars
Publication Date: 17 November 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:

A boy and his pet fox go on a quest to find a wolf who has eaten all the stars in the sky before the Shadow Witch destroys the stars and removes good magic from the world forever.

Long ago, the land of Ulv was filled with magic. But that was before a wolf ate all the Stars in the night sky, ridding the world of magic and allowing Shadow Creatures, beasts made of shadow and evil, to flourish. Twelve-year-old Bo knows the stories but thinks the Stars and the wolf who ate them are nothing more than myths—until the day Bo’s guardian, Mads, is attacked by a giant wolf straight from the legends. With his dying breath, Mads tells Bo that Ulv is in danger and the only way to prevent the Shadow Creatures from taking over is to return the Stars to the sky. And so Bo—accompanied by his best friend, a fox called Nix, a girl named Selene who’s magic is tied to the return of the Stars, and Tam, a bird-woman who has vowed to protect Bo at all costs—sets off on a quest to find the three magical keys that will release the Stars. But Bo isn’t the only one who wants the Stars, and the friends soon find themselves fleeing angry villagers, greedy merchants, and a vengeful wolf. And all the while, an evil witch lurks in the shadows and time is running out

BUY NOW: Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | Indiebound

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Blog Tour Review: Born at Dawn by Christina Davis

Hello, friends! Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Born at Dawn by Christina Davis. Special thanks to the author for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Born at Dawn (Da’Valia Trilogy #1)
Publication Date: 15 November 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Panda Rating:

In a world of secrets, the one she never expected is the one that will change her life forever.
When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.

Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.

The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.

Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud. Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?

⚠This book is about a race of warriors and contains violent scenes, which may not be suitable for all audiences.

Buy: Amazon (US)

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Mini-Review: Beneath Black Sails Romantasy Series

The Beneath Black Sails series is currently unfinished and this is a review of the first two books. There’s a prequel novella that I haven’t read and probably won’t? According to Goodreads, the third and fourth books will be published sometime in 2021!

Beneath Black Sails (Beneath Black Sails #1)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Panda Rating:


Sometimes it takes a pirate to catch a pirate.
With weather magic on her side, Lady Vice is the bane of the high seas, but she isn’t captain of her own ship. Yet. If she can persuade her captain to give her a command, she’ll be in charge of her own fate.


To pay off his family’s debts, Knigh Blackwood hunts pirates for the Royal Navy. And he’s damn good at it. When the bounty on Lady Vice increases, he’s determined to make her face justice, even if that means using unorthodox methods.


Forced to work together, neither can deny their mutual attraction. As they face battles at sea and schemes aboard their ship, they discover hints about a long-lost treasure that could be the answer to both their problems.


But treasure isn’t the only thing buried. Secrets best forgotten lie in wait that could blast them apart. And the closer Vice and Knigh grow, the greater the threat – to her freedom and to his family. Because for one to succeed, the other must fail.

This was a fast-paced and action-packed high-seas adventure with interesting characters and a good dose of a slow-burning fiery enemies-to-lovers romance. This was probably the most pirate-y romantasy that I have ever read and you know what? I was totally here for it. Major props to Sager because you can tell she has done her research and actually, the way she talks about ships and sailing breathes it to life! Vice and Knigh were polar opposites that oddly complemented each other, and had an interesting enemies-to-lovers romance that progressed naturally, but their sexual chemistry was obvious from day one. Vice took some getting used to and Knigh was also an imperfect hero, but they both experience a lot of growth and I was invested in their arcs. If you’re into nautical fantasy or romantasy then this is definitely one you should check out because it packs an entertaining punch with lots of fun twists and tons of pirate shenanigans!

My biggest frustration with the book was the lack of world-building. Sager sets the scene in a way that expects us to already know about the world and thus scant detail about the setting is provided. The author provides a detailed note at the end of the book where she divulges more information, but I felt like I learned more about the world in her note than I did in the whole book. Overall, a highly entertaining start to the series and after that tumultuous ending, I can’t wait to dive into book two!

Against Dark Tides (Beneath Black Sails #2)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Panda Rating:


Enemies. Lovers. Enemies once more. Now they must work together to survive. 

Notorious pirate Lady Vice has lost everything: ship, crew, and friends. Even her body has betrayed her, leaving her magic weak. To make matters worse, she’s stuck at sea with the man who stabbed her in the back.

Knigh Blackwood is no longer a captain, no longer a pirate-hunter, no longer … anything. All he has left is the woman he betrayed, and she’d rather cut out his tongue with his own dagger than forgive him.

There’s just one thing that might make up for what they’ve lost: Drake’s treasure.
But they’re not the only ones searching for clues and the elusive X that marks the spot. Between them and the treasure stand a scheming duke, a former lover, and a sea monster thought the stuff of legends – not to mention Vice and Knigh’s complicated feelings for each other.

Can you hear that? It’s the resounding sound of disappointment!!! *womp womp womp…*

So… WOW, Vice made it really really really hard for me to love this book. Like, really hard. She took some getting used to in book one and redeemed herself by the end, but I was up to my eyeballs and drowning in frustration with her naïveté and childish petulance in this book and it really took the enjoyment out of the story for me! With the way book one ends, it’s no surprise that there would be a good dose of angst in book two, I just didn’t expect so much of it, and it took away from the fun of the story. While Vice was just plain bad, I found Knigh frustrating at times too. Their character arcs were just so woefully repetitive and although they do come to realise what they could’ve done better/differently, they really don’t grow.

The only character who saved the book for me was Perry. She’s not only a great trustworthy captain but an amazing friend. We get to see a strong friendship grow between Perry and Knigh and her influence on him was not only soothing, but I thought she also really brought out the best in him. We get a stronger villain in this book and he was truly despicable but I’m very curious about Mercia and how he’s linked to Knigh’s past and what role he’ll play in the future.

Overall, while we get more high-seas adventures and there’s even a treasure hunt and the introduction of The Kraken(!!), I’m sad to say that this was a pretty disappointing sequel. I really wanted less Vice and more Perry, as well as the blossoming friendship between Perry and Knigh. That said, I feel like I want to know what happens next because the end of book two did seem promising. I hope that I’m not disappointed again!

And that’s a wrap, folks! Do you find sequels are more often disappointing than not? Have you read any of the Beneath Black Sails series or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review: Legends Rise (Venators #3) by Devri Walls

Hey friends! I’m excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for book three of the Venators series: Legends Rise. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour over here. You can also read my review for book one and book two.

Thanks to Dave for organising the tour, Noly for the awesome tour banner, and to Devri Walls for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Legends Rise (Venators #3)
Published: 12 May 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural
Panda Rating:

The path will be forged in sweat and blood.

Rune, Grey, the shape-shifter Beltran, and willful vampire, Verida, set out to rescue their friend and mentor, Tate, from the gladiator games. But first they must navigate the perils of Eon and its warring factions. Each of this band of four carries with them a secret that threatens to tear their group apart from within. Rune now bears the mark of the promise she made to save Grey’s life-a nixie bubble lodged in her arm that could call her away to do their bidding or spell her death.

Even as their loyalty to their cause and to one another faces its greatest test, Rune’s twin brother Ryker is forging an alliance with their mortal enemy, the powerful sorceress Zio, who has plans of her own for the Venators and Eon. Hearts will be bared, secrets unveiled, and relationships made and destroyed in this stunning new installment of the Venators series. 

GET A COPY: Amazon (UK)

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