Tag Archives: fantasy romance

a kingdom of flame and fury

Book Review: A Kingdom of Flame and Fury, by Whitney Dean

I accepted a review copy of Whitney Dean‘s A Kingdom of Flame and Fury through R&R Book Tours. The Book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for an excerpt, author information, tour schedule, and (if you hurry) a chance to win a copy of the book.

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At ten years old, Raven was mysteriously willed to be the next ruler of Seolia, a kingdom nestled within the realm of The Four Kingdoms. Orphaned as a baby, she has spent fifteen years ruling over a kingdom she believes she did not earn all while hiding secrets: she possesses dark magic and she thirsts for blood. Now at almost twenty-five years old and with a sudden addiction to stealing life, Raven must fight through her new procured darkness to save her soul, but when a mysterious stranger arrives in her kingdom, she starts experiencing vivid dreams that detail who she truly is. As she slowly starts to unravel her story, what she uncovers at the end of the spool will change the course of her life and her kingdom forever.


my review

I went into this book with such high hopes. But it honestly just strangled them, one extra page at a time. I’ll give the author that the writing is mechanically competent, editing pretty clean, and the world is interesting. I didn’t even hate the characters. But the book is far, far, far too long for the plot that it contains. The middle just draaaaaaags and then the whole thing finishes on a cliffhanger. So, there’s not even any payoff after sticking with it until the end.

I might have been able to tolerate that if it wasn’t paired with constant whiplash changes in character attitudes and behaviors. “I won’t do this.” Does it. “You can’t do that” Does it. “I’ll do the thing.” Doesn’t do it. “I love this man.” Hates same man. “I don’t sexually love this man.” Has sex with him. Back and forwards, back and forwards, back and forwards, back and forwards. I’m talking a full half of this book is just characters flipping between opposing attitudes/opinion/actions. And I was just completely done with it far before the book was done with me. Yes, I understood that the author was trying to show that the characters were conflicted, but it just felt contradictory and exhausting.

Even the narrative is contradictory. Here’s an example. The reader is told no one ever goes in the woods and there is virtually no crime on the island. Raven walked into the woods and was immediately accosted by a serial rapist. If no one goes in the woods and there’s almost no crime, he’s two rarities at once. He contradicts two pillars of the world as the reader has been told it exists. Exhausting.

Further, this is labeled a dark romance. I don’t think it’s a dark romance. It’s a freaking tragedy. I recognize the elements that Dean was trying to paint as dark romance. But it’s just toxic, abusive behavior without enough shading to make it an actual dark romance. Lastly, and this

a kingdom of flame and fury

              Special edition cover

one was just an annoyance, but it really annoyed me. Nothing about Raven—her situation, her attitude, her demeanor, her kingdom, her training, her history, her interactions with others or them with her—felt queenly. Nothing. The book isn’t even clear on what she rules. Was it a country, an island, a town, or a village? Village is used more often than anything else. So, she’s queen of a village? Linguistically, it doesn’t even make sense.

I think this book will find an audience. Exhausting whiplash aside, most aspects of it aren’t bad. I am just apparently not that audience.


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Bookworm Bunny Reviews: A Kingdom of FLame and Fury

A Kingdom of Flame and Fury

 

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Book Review: The Librarian and the Orc, by Finley Fenn

I picked up a freebie copy of Finley Fenn‘s The Librarian and the Orc after seeing the series recommended on Tiktok. It’s third in the Orc Sworn series, but I was assured it could be read as a stand alone.

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He’s a fierce, ferocious, death-dealing beast. And he’s reading a book in her library…

In a world of recently warring orcs and men, Rosa Rolfe leads a quiet, scholarly life as an impoverished librarian — until the day she finds an orc. In her library. Reading a book.

He’s rude, aggressive, and deeply terrifying, with his huge muscled form, sharp black claws, and cold, dismissive commands. But he doesn’t seem truly dangerous… at least, until night falls. And he makes Rosa a shocking, scandalous offer…

Her books, for her surrender.
Her ecstasy.
Her enlightenment…

Rosa’s no fool, and she knows she can’t possibly risk her precious library for this brazen, belligerent orc. Even if he is surprisingly well-read. Even if he smells like sweet, heated honey. Even if he makes Rosa’s heart race with fear, and ignites all her deepest, darkest cravings at once…

But surrender demands a dangerous, devastating price. A bond that can’t easily be broken. And a breakneck journey to the fearsome, forbidding Orc Mountain, where a curious, clever librarian might be just what’s needed to stop another war…

my review

I am in a really odd place in reviewing this book. I liked the writing and the premise. I think the series seems interesting (in a totally over the top ridiculous sort of way) and I’m interested in reading more of it. But I didn’t like this book. But Sadie, why would you want more then? I don’t, not more of the same anyway. But one would presume every book in the series can’t be exactly the same.

What I disliked about this book was the characters. I thought he was an alpha a-hole for far too long. So, by the time he stopped and showed his softer side, it was too late. (Even if I appreciated that he valued her intellect as much as her deep throat.) I never could come around to like him. And I thought she was a limp dishrag and a doormat. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing them to both have been crafted by their past traumas. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing for flawed characterization (saying cruel things you don’t really mean, when angry, for example). Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing their broken pieces to fit together in to a stronger whole. I saw it. But I didn’t enjoy it.

I feel like Rosa’s scrabbling, scrambling, desperate need to please her master just felt like an abused woman keeping her abuser happy as a means of self-protection (which she’d done her whole life, yes). But I felt like there was no growth past this. Instead it was just eroticized and John took advantage of it for his own gain. Yes, yes, I know that’s not how Fenn meant it. But the librarian and the orc photothat’s how it felt to me and I didn’t enjoy reading it. I almost DNFed more times than I can count.

So, I’ll probably give another book in the series a try. But this particular one was a failure for me. (I much preferred The Sorceress’s Orc.) It did stand alone though. I read it without having read any of the previous books and the only confusion I had was the fact that orcs only bare sons and I didn’t know why. I just had to accept it as the way of things.


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Book Review: Of Visions & Secrets, by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

I saw Kathryn Ann Kingsley‘s Of Visions & Secrets recommended over on Tiktok. So, I went to drop it on my Amazon wish list and happened to notice it was free that day. So, I nabbed a copy instead.
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The darkness took Emma’s brother. Now it yearns to claim her.

When Emma Mather’s twin brother, Elliot, goes missing from Arnsmouth University, she is determined to stop at nothing to find him. Yet as she follows the clues left behind, she learns that there are far more sinister monstrosities lurking in the shadows of her city than she could have ever imagined.

Elliot’s former teacher, Professor Raphael Saltonstall, may be Emma’s only hope in finding her brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Emma to realize Rafe is hiding secrets of his own. Despite the sizzling attraction between them, Emma isn’t entirely sure if Rafe is a friend or foe.

As two opposing cults hunt her down for their own twisted agendas, Emma finds tendrils of darkness closing in from all around. Pulsating Things live in the darkness…wriggling in eager anticipation to take her.

If they have their way, they’ll consume her mind, soul…and body.

This was a surprise winner for me. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I loved how up front and ready Emma was. She put her authentic self right out there for the world to see and I appreciated it. I thought the world Interesting and characters engaging. They’re all so marvelously morally grey. The writing is clean and easy to read and I’m invested in what happens next.

I did wish for a little more certainty on the fate of the brother…and admittedly more tentacle action than we were given. The story really is a little slow to get going and I thought Emma lost a little of her assertive spark as soon as the romance started to build. But I will certainly be continuing the series.

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