Review

The Crowns of Croswald

(The Croswald Series #1)

D.E. Night

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5★ – Magical and Mesmerizing
Published by Stories Untold Press July 21, 2017
Genre(s): Fantasy, Middle-Grade, Adventure
Pages: Kindle Edition 320
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In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…
For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

D.E. Night’s debut novel, The Crowns of Croswald, is a beautifully written fantasy story full of exciting adventure, magical creatures, and engaging characters. While some parts felt familiar and reminiscent of Harry Potter, I thought the author does wonderfully at creating a world that is different and a story that is unique in its own magnificent way.

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The description of the world in this book is just amazing – breathtakingly rich and so detailed that I felt like I was in Croswald myself. I don’t want to give you more than that because you need to experience it for yourself… But even if I did, I just don’t think there are enough words to describe how beautiful the world is… Just know that Croswald is whimsical, fascinating and undeniably one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to.

Night’s writing is gorgeous and captivating. She creates just enough intrigue and mystery to pull you in until you’re completely drawn to the story and the characters. I was absolutely entertained and mesmerized that I didn’t even realize when I was almost done with the book. The plot is fast-paced, thrilling and filled with fun surprises and hilarious mishaps that kept me turning the pages. I love the characters in this book. They’re quirky, witty and full of spunk. I adore Ivy with all my heart and can’t wait to find out more about her and her friends. While this book is written for the middle-age group, I definitely think anyone who loves adventure and magic would enjoy it. I most certainly did!

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Full of charming creatures, magical potions, secret doors, enchanted objects, delicious pies, badass characters, and a crazy evil villain, Night without a doubt has crafted one marvelous adventure for readers of all ages. Her writing is impressive and moving. The world building is exquisite and enchanting. The story is creative, intriguing and comes to life so effortlessly. The Crowns of Croswald is such a fun delightful debut novel. I cannot wait to continue Ivy’s adventure and be part of this world again.

If you’re looking for a fantastic exciting new series, then I absolutely recommend you pick this up ASAP. I’m positive you’ll enjoy this book and gobble it up like a delicious blueberry pie.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Follow / Connect D.E. Night: Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Thanks for reading and hope you have a magical day!

Sincerely Karen Jo

Review

The Tiger’s Watch

(Ashes of Gold #1)

Julia Ember

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5 ★ – Magical and Thrilling
Published by Harmony Ink Press August 22, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, GLBT, Romance
Pages: Kindle 180
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Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

This is the first book I’ve read by Julia Ember and I’m definitely 100% going to be adding her other books on my neverending TBR. The Tiger’s Watch is a fantastic thrilling story that features a genderfluid protagonist (Woohoo!). From the very beginning until the last page, I was enthralled by Ember’s beautiful writing. The story, the world building, the characters, the magic, the romance, everything… – I LOVE it all.

Ember is an amazing writer and visionary. The world building in this book is unique and imaginative. The idea of inhabitors, a soldier who is able to bond with an animal in order to spy and kill, is creative and fascinating. I definitely loved it when Tashi would connect with their tiger, Katala. I mean how incredible is it to be able to experience two lives at once. To do things you never thought you could. To feel, hear, taste, and see the world through another species. Of course there’ll be limitations and danger, but still… it’s pretty darn awesome! I really enjoyed this part of the book and hope to see it developed some more in the next installment.

I love the characters with all my heart and rooted for each of them. Tashi is not exactly the bravest and for a trained spy/killer, they’re actually quite horrible at it, but they try to be strong and to do good. Pharo can be impulsive and reckless, but he’s also kind and very loyal. Xian is unpredictable and cruel, but there is also a side of him that’s caring and vulnerable. They’re complex, flawed, and awfully frustrating, but it’s difficult not to sympathize with them when they’re just trying to do what they believe is right to protect the people they love.

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The romance is subtle and the relationships could have had a bit more development… but the little preview was enough to keep me interested. And yes, there’s definitely some swooning here and there. I enjoyed the slow burn romance between Tashi and Pharo… BUT (and someone tell me I’m not alone in this) I REALLY LIKE Tashi and Xian together… I know I know.. Xian’s despicable and the enemy, but I sort of have a thing for the “bad guy” type… the complicated more than meets the eye villain who ends up being the “good guy.” So, of course I found the love-hate chemistry between Tashi and Xian totally intriguing. (Kind of reminded me of how I felt towards Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me Series). While Tashi and Xian is my obvious ship, I’m still pretty excited to see how both relationships progress.

The Tiger’s Watch may be short (not even 200 pages), but it’s full of intrigue, magic, adventure, and mystery. I love Ember’s vivid storytelling and this wonderful world she’s created. I seriously have so much love for this book and can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a quick, fun, and entertaining fantasy novel, then you absolutely have to add this on your TBR… or you know just grab a copy when it comes out. Oh and be prepared to shut the real world off, cause you’ll want to finish this in one sitting.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and publisher, Harmony Ink Press, in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Follow / Connect with Julia Ember: Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Sincerely Karen Jo