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Book Review: Stone and Steel, by Eboni Dunbar

I bought a the Pride 2021 Story Bundle, earlier this year, and Eboni Dunbar’s Stone and Steel was included in it.
stone and steel eboni dunbar
When General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ well-being and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.

my review

I liked this a lot. It’s not perfect. For a person who grew up without legitimate connections, Aaliyah turns out to gather some surprisingly powerful allies (largely without trying), which felt too coincidental. The version I read didn’t make it clear enough when speakers were changing. So, dialogue was sometimes hard to follow. (I don’t know if this was just formatting or what.) And as a not huge fan of novellas, I, of course, wish it was longer and more developed. But, for such a short piece, it does what it sets out to do. It evokes a real sense of place and time, gives you characters you care about, is chocked full of diversity, and wraps up with a satisfying conclusion. I’ll happily read more of Dunbar’s writing.

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Other Reviews:

Review: “Stone and Steel” by Eboni Dunbar

Regular Sip – Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar (Neon Hemlock)


Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar #BookReview

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Book Review: Wild, by Adrienne Wilder

I purchased copy of Adrienne Wilder‘s Wild back in 2018. It’s been waiting patiently for attention. But since one of the short stories I included in my Christmas Reading Challenge is a sequel to it, I decided it was time to dive in.
Wild, by Adrienne Wilder

August Vallory had it all. A modeling career, a man he loved, and the extended family he’d acquired in the business. Then the world he knew was torn away when the plane he was on crashed en route to a photo shoot.

Lost in the Alaskan wilderness, August doesn’t stand a chance.

No sane man would choose to live in the Alaskan bush unless he had something to hide. And Keegan Brooks has secrets darker than night, more dangerous than wolves, more brutal than an Alaskan winter.

Every day was a fight for his life until he stumbled upon a downed plane with a lone survivor. Now it’s no longer just Keegan’s life teetering on the edge of survival.

It’s his heart.

my review

In general, I enjoyed this. To be a little more nuanced, I liked the beginning, thought the middle dragged, and then the story picked back up for an exciting ending that then tapered off to a sweet happy ending.

I especially appreciated how bitchy August could sometimes be. I know that sounds like an odd thing to compliment, but I felt like—being in the midst of such a traumatic event—his temper made him relatable. I thought Keegan’s desperate love was emotionally effective and ticked a lot of boxes for me. But I also felt like he and August hadn’t gotten to actually know one another enough for it. The addition of Daisy was marvelous, though she seemed a little too smart to be believed. The villains were admirably villainous, but I predicted exactly how their role in the book would end far before they even showed up. So, no surprises.

The whole thing was well written and easy to read. I caught the occasional editing mishap, but not many and none I thought particularly grievous. I’ll be picking up future Wilder books, for sure.

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Other Reviews:

Book Review: WILD by Adrienne Wilder

Book Review : Wild by Adrienne Wilder

traitor of the black crown

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown, by Cate Pearce

I received a copy of Cate Pearces‘s Traitors of the Black Crown through Netgalley. In a completely unrelated turn of events, the book was later featured on Sadie’s Spotlight.

COVER - Traitors of the Black Crown

Three women will betray the black crown. A Knight. A Duchess. A Queen.

Raena Schinen narrowly escaped when the Queen’s guard murdered her entire family. If Raena’s survival is exposed, she’ll be next. For fifteen years Raena has hidden as a male Knight, “Sir Rowan”, consumed by her vengeful desire to assassinate the Queen.

The moment Raena is close enough to exact her revenge, she is unexpectedly exiled to a foreign land. There she serves the common-born Duchess Aven Colby, whose suspicious kinship with the Queen further threatens Raena’s delicate secrets.

Just as they become united in a common goal to curb a looming invasion, unexpected heat and romance blossoms between “Sir Rowan” and Aven. The peril demands they set out on a journey to form clandestine political alliances, risking the Queen’s wrath, and drawing Raena and Aven closer together.

But no one in the kingdom could have imagined the sinister foe rising from below the surface. In order to save themselves and those they love, Raena, Aven, and the Queen must recognize who are the oppressors and who will unite against the Black Crown.

my review

I’m going to go with “OK” for my reaction to this book. It’s OK. I’m not saying it’s only OK, but rather that it is OK. I’m not out here shouting from the rooftops how great it is. But I also was never tempted to DNF it and I won’t call it anything less than OK.

But it was slow, with a plot that spreads out like a flood plain. Never gone, but never starkly defined by a notable riverbank either. It’s wide and placid. But it is also full of some relatable characters (though the villains aren’t particularly nuanced, if I’m honestly), an interesting world, political intrigue, and nice writing.

I will complain, though, about the ‘could have been resolved with a conversation’ conflict. Granted, it’s on a national scale here, instead of a romantic relationship scale (which is where you normally see such things). But it’s still the underpinning friction of the whole novel.

All in all, I’d read another Pearce book, but I don’t think I’m in a hurry to get the sequel to Traitors of the Black Crown.

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Other Reviews:

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown by Cate Pearce

Traitors of the Black Crown – Book Review