BOOK REVIEW: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Serpent & Dove (Originally a duology but now a scheduled trilogy)

Serpent & Dove: ★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

REVIEW: Before I start my review, I want to point out a few things. One, shamefully, it’s been almost a year since I’ve finished reading a book, so this is the one that got me out of my slump. Two, I purchased this book purely based on the cover. Three, this is my first book with witchcraft that I’ve read since Harry Potter.

I’ll start with what I loved: This book is about 500 pages–with pretty small font–but it didn’t feel like the book was long at all. The pacing made the story go by so quickly. I’ve read some other reviews that stated the first 200 pages were hard to get through, but personally I really enjoyed the build up. The last 50-100 pages is where I started having a bit of a problem with the pacing, but more on that later. I found the dialogue extremely engaging and enjoyable—it wasn’t overdone or forced.

In terms of chapter formatting, the book transitions between the views of Lou and Reid. I loved both characters and really appreciated getting two points of view. Originally, I’ve never really been a fan of multiple character POV’s, but Mahurin did an amazing job in integrating the story together. It worked because I liked both characters and genuinely wanted to know how they were feeling and thinking.

Overall, the plot was fresh and it kept me engaged. I hope that Mahurin expands on the different witch magics: Dame Blanches and Dame Rouge. The war between the two types of witches is definitely going to be revealed in the next book, and I think it’ll expose even more layers to the magic system.

What I didn’t like: Mahurin had a lot of twists throughout the book, but I saw each of them coming before it happened. All the twists were revealed one after the other, and I found it a bit jarring. It didn’t give me enough time to register them because it literally unraveled within a matter of moments. Since this was originally supposed to be a duology, I think the author felt she had to reveal the majority of the twists this first book so that she could wrap things up in the second. However, now that it is a trilogy, I’m assuming she’s going to be adding a new villain or possibly a betrayal of some sort to extend it. In my opinion, I thought keeping it a duology would’ve been perfect.

Also, the during the climax fight scene, I was really disappointed at the “Big Tiddy Liddy” part. Honestly, it was such a pivotal moment–intense, blood pumping–that fell a bit flat when the author added that in. It really didn’t make any sense to me at all. The buildup was climbing only to be disrupted with that small input. Maybe some people found it funny and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Louise le Blanc: She’s a badass, sassy main character. Despite her insecurities, she has a strong sense of compassion for those she cares about. Her loyalty and ability to draw the people around closer to her is apparent in her fun attitude. She’s definitely a friend that I would love to have. I’m looking forward to seeing Lou embrace her magic and face Morgane head on.

Reid Diggory: As a Chasseur (witch hunter), he’s as pure as it comes. His strong beliefs blind him for the majority of the book, but eventually love wakes him up. Even though his loyalty to Lou wavers for a moment, he subconsciously knew that he couldn’t live without her. I’m hoping there’s more character development for Reid, in terms of personal growth since his entire belief system came crashing down on him.

Coco: Lou’s best friend and confidant. I loved the friendship they shared, and when they interacted it was some of my favorite parts of the books. Coco is the smart, beautiful friend who cares for Lou so much that she would give her own life for hers.

Random thoughts: The author isn’t much of a world builder, in the sense that she doesn’t go in depth in writing descriptions of the surroundings. She’s very minimal. Personally, I don’t mind that because I have a really overactive imagination and was able to picture it in my head, no problem. But for those who really like to get the nitty gritty descriptions of setting, this book does not have that.

Also, Serpent & Dove is categorized as a young adult, but I think it should be considered more of a new adult book. There is one steamy sex scene. It’s not overly graphic and is written tastefully. Personally, I enjoyed it because it helped develop their relationship to the next level.

While I did enjoy the book, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars because I felt something missing once I finished reading it. I think spreading the twists or emphasizing them in some way would have really improved the intensity of the reading experience. I would definitely still recommend this book to anybody looking for a fantasy romance book to read. Despite the length, the read is pretty quick, and all in all, it took me about 4 days to finish–the first day I read about 150 pages. 

The second book comes out on September 1, 2020, so it’s the perfect time to get started on this one!

Buy your copy here!

BOOK REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Series: Trilogy (Ongoing)

Three Dark Crowns: ★★★/5

SUMMARY: When kingdom come, there will be one. In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

There are a lot of mixed reviews for this book. First off, it took me FOREVER to finish it. I ended up taking a LONGGGG break halfway through before buckling down and forcing myself to finish. I only gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars because of three reasons:

  1. The premise was interesting and fresh
  2. The writing was easy to follow and visually descriptive
  3. It was unpredictable and surprising

Overall, I only enjoyed around 20% of the book, which were the last 100 pages or so. The beginning dragged on and I’m guessing the author was taking her time to really get readers to buy into each of the queens’ characters/personalities, but at times I found it really long and uninteresting. There were parts in each queen’s story that I thought were repetitive and unnecessary. Also, for most of the book, I didn’t really enjoy any one character and couldn’t find myself attached to any. However, that could have been the author’s intentions to keep readers from cheering on any one of the queens throughout the book.

Character Development: There really wasn’t any present throughout the book, but from the few reviews I read about the second installment, it seems most of the growth will happen in the next book. I’ll talk about a few of my favorite to least favorite characters.

Arsinoe: The Naturalist queen. Her personality was the most dynamic and interesting. I found her refreshing and honest. She accepted the fact that she was “giftless” yet she was doing everything she could to make some sort of gift arise from inside her. Her efforts were admirable despite the fact her methods may not have been. I enjoyed reading her chapters as I found myself curious as to what she would do next. Her relationship with Jules and Camden were heartwarming. I love them both.

Jules & Camden: Jules is one of my most favorite characters. She’s true to herself and Arsinoe. Her loyalty and honest to goodness towards her friends is to die for her. She never waivers and her strong personality always shines in whatever she does. I’m sure the next book has a lot in store for her.

Mirabella: The Elemental queen. Known to be the strongest with the backing of the High Priestess, she’s destined to be the reigning queen. However, her powerful exterior conflicts with her delicate heart. Though she was the strongest of her sisters, she was the most empathetic and hesitant. She was misunderstood because of the image the priestesses painted of her. She was frustrating to read about at times, because if she took a little bit more of an initiative a lot of the problems would have been solved. I hate when miscommunication is a factor of a problem remaining unsolved.

Katherine: The Poison queen. She’s my least favorite. Her character is just unlikable in my opinion. If I were to guess, I would say she is only going to get worse in the next book. I didn’t like her in the first and I’m pretty sure I’ll dislike her even more in the next book if she stays on the same path.

Joseph: I hate this guy. I’m not going to spoil the book, but in the beginning I really enjoyed reading about him with Jules. But by the end of the book I wanted to strangle him. He’s so worthless and his words never support his actions. Weak-minded guys are the worst.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you’ve got nothing on your list to read. It’s not an immediate go out and buy type of book, but maybe more of a library check out kind. The cover is beautiful though. It was well written and though some people might find the shifting perspectives jarring, I thought it was organized enough to follow without getting confused. Just be prepared to have to trudge through at least 75-80% of the book before you can really get into it. The ending was very interesting and I didn’t see the twist at the end–the cliffhanger at the end itself makes me want to read the second just to see what happens. Though I have no strong attachments to any of the characters to see how things turn out for them.

Buy it on AMAZON.

PRE-ORDER KALCYON

The Kalcyon e-book is officially live on amazon for pre-order. January 31, 2016 is the release date!

UPDATE: It’s Official!

My Kalcyon ARCs have officially been delivered and I have never been so excited to open a package. It looks even better than I had hoped for it to. I love the new cover concept that I incorporated into it. For those who purchased my VERY first edition, I did make many changes to the cover and format, but I appreciate each and every one of you for your support ❤ On the plus side, it is technically a specialty product! (Get the hardcover! It’s 100x better.)

Kalcyon is slated to be officially released on January 31, 2015, however this will only be the paperback and e-book version. I am going to try my very best to get the hardcover version finished by this time as well, but the company I use has a somewhat slow turnaround rate for proofs. I am keeping my fingers crossed though.

This is such a surreal moment for me. And the best present I could have given myself for Christmas! I hope you all have a great holiday, and if you do have the chance, read my first book, Karnage, to get ready for the release of Kalcyon!

You can find Karnage on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Leave me a review and tell me what you thought!

Tata for now~

Flash Reveal! – Kalcyon Prologue

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about Kalcyon, the second book of The Phoenix Ashes trilogy. Today, I decided I’m going to release the prologue! I can’t wait to release this book, because I’m loving it even more than Karnage (I didn’t even know that it would be possible)

 

Prologue

“WOULD YOU PLEASE come down from there?” I fidgeted, absentminded I kicked a small rock on the ground. Alythea always had a mind of her own and there was nobody who could stop her from doing the crazy things she did. It was a God-given gift that she hadn’t died yet, and sometimes I really believed that she never would.

            Her Phersu was a beautiful creature. Its wings were smooth opaque chimes that released the most musically hypnotic sound making you feel lost in a never-ending dream. It was an impossibly majestic bird, frighteningly enchanting with a daunting prowess—they always said Phersus took after their owners.

            Alythea was one of the first and only students to have a hatched Phersu. There were rumors of one other student who had one before her, but we had never seen him attend a class in the time we had been there.

            “Care to join me?” she teased with a wide grin. I rolled my eyes and placed my hands on my hips as I glared up at her. She knew exactly why I refused to join her in the obscenely tall tree in the first place.

            I was deathly afraid of heights. I preferred to remain grounded; I didn’t trust anything that I couldn’t feel or see. Alythea on the other hand, loved everything about the sky; she reached for it as if she would one day be able to grab hold of it, and the impossibility only kept her from giving up. It was the ephemeral reveries that tickled her mind that had her asking for more, demanding for something beyond ordinary. And, she was anything but ordinary. It was fitting that her Phersu had hatched to be a bird.

            Sometimes, I wondered how we were such good friends when we were so different. Maybe it was because I secretly wanted to be like her: hopelessly free, uninhibited, and boldly daring. They were qualities that indisputably sparked my curiosity but crept like a haunting trance that threatened to overpower me.

            I heard the jingle of her Phersu’s feathers. It never got old. The tickle in my ears left a light and pleasurable feeling inside and smoothed my wrinkled frustrations with Alythea away. A soft thud on the bouncy grass blowing in the breeze told me she had finally decided to come down and join me.

            “One day, I’ll get you to come up the tree with me,” she vowed. Despite their lack of color, her steely eyes had more depth than anyone I had ever known. It played with the lights and reflected any vibrancy it took in.

            “I insist you stop trying,” I negated. “I really love it here on the ground. Always have and always will.”

            “The world is a whole new place up there.” She admired the endless blue sky. We took a moment to soak in the warm inviting rays of sunlight that escaped through the whimsical thicket of the leaves as it kissed the goosebumps on our skin away. It was amazing that only a decade had past. Celestria was beautiful and at peace once again.

            It was a time of healing and rejuvenation for Valkryns was on the rise. In Celestria, Valkryns had always been reveled and honored. Greatness was Valkryns. Only when the Night of the Phoenix had devastated Celestria had fear ever been connected with the Valkryn name. Nonetheless, somehow the Founders managed to restore Celestria’s trust in Valkryns and the wish to possess a Ceres was once more, the most desired gift. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, because we were now given the opportunity to receive proper training at Vanderwald.

            A crack of a twig and the crunching of the earthy ground caught our attention. As usual, against my better judgment, I had followed Alythea here even though I knew we were deeper in the forest than students were instructed to go.

            Then I saw him. His black hair was brushed to the side as he walked with an assertive and strong gaze locked on us. My heart skipped a beat for the first time and something inside me ignited. The sensation pulsed and a strong pull struggled to break free. His eyes flickered to mine as if he sensed the power struggling inside of me; I was immediately drawn in by his dangerously ash gray eyes soaked with calamity.

            This was the moment that changed everything. There was no way I could’ve known what was in store for me. Little did I know, I had been born for this single minute; the wheels of fate had begun to turn in the cruelest possible way. The three of us stood in the forest staring at each other for what felt like an eternity; this moment would be forever etched in my memory; and, it was the last thing I saw when I died.

            It all began the day I met Logan Bray.

-Kalcyon