Merciless Stars

Merciless Stars
By: Candace Robinson

A story about two sisters who have to work together to solve the corruption in their world? Yes, please!

I’m a sucker for these kinds of sisters against the world stories, and this one was amazing. Robinson once again blends steamy romance with a horrific fantasy world to create a blend that is uniquely hers. I raved about The Bone Valley when I read it last year which has a similar vibe, and while it’s still my favorite book of hers, this one comes very close.

Two sisters, Afton and Silver, who had to claw their way out from under the thumb of their abusive parents are left with the emotional damage and cruelty left behind. They can tap into the magic of their land, transforming themselves in the process. While Silver tends to be the more optimistic of the two, she regularly taps into dark magic, including the land of the dead, from which she pulls a soul to live within a wax body. Her older sister, Afton, took the brunt of the cruelty of their parents and ended up with a lot of anger because of it. She is more cruel, more terse, and more brutal than her sister. Only Silver can bring out the kindness of her sister.

The sisters have their bond to keep them above the horrors of their past, but as they investigate a nearby kingdom and learn of the curse that has befallen it, they soon realize things aren’t what they seem.

I fell in love with Silver almost instantly, and Keelan as well, her wax servant. Once again I find so many characters to root for. This world was so nuanced and so well-built that I could envision the walls of their castle and the grounds where they rode their horses. I was slowly drawn into this unique world, but once I hit the halfway point, it was hard to put down! I’ve learned to expect this from Robinson’s books now!

A wonderful, steamy read with unforgettable world-building, spooky monsters, and layered characters. I recommend it for fans of dark romance and fantastic worlds. Robinson is clearly finding her stride, and I’m very much here for it.

5/5 bloody hearts

The Bone Valley

Happy Release Day to The Bone Valley! Be sure to grab your copy if this sounds perfect for your October bookshelf!

The Bone Valley
By: Candace Robinson

Finished: 8/23/2021

I’ve read quite a few books by Robinson, and I can enthusiastically say that this one is my favorite! This is perhaps the most intense, grotesque, and beautiful story I’ve read from her, and I had a hard time putting it down!

I really loved Anton, a lover, and Nahli, a thief. They seem like characters whose paths would never cross until things go very, very wrong. Even Daryna, the old witch who lives int he woods, grew on me throughout this tale. Pav, Anton’s little brother, grew on me throughout this tale. At first I didn’t think much of him since he just seemed like he wanted to emulate his brother, but as the tale goes on he gains so much empathy and shows he has such a pure heart. I keep bouncing between Pav and Roka as my favorites, but as of this writing, I have to say the little skeleton meerkat Roka was my absolute fave. I can’t say too much about him without giving things away, but his tragic tale and determined love was touching. And he was such a cute companion to them.

I really can’t gush enough about this book because there were times when I was just blown away by the viciousness, the beauty, the cruelty, and the incredible levels of world-building. I could practically imagine this in a stock-motion animation ala Nightmare Before Christmas at times, and it was gorgeous. Robinson’s imagery and creativity was unmatched in this piece. She has such strength in mixing romantic storylines with horrific and dramatic world building and beautiful character development, but this one is a shining example of her skill. If this wasn’t already obvious, this book should not be missed!

I’ve never read a book like this and would happily devour more books in this style or in this world.

My rating: 5/5 skeletal thumbs up

Lineage

Lineage
By: C. Vonzale Lewis

Finished: 3/8/2021

Wow, this book absolutely blew me away! It has multiple parts to love, from evil corporation, to mysterious ancient magic, to a number of very sexy scenes. Not to mention the ending was incredible!

Lewis has a wonderful knack for piecing together many parts into a whole, cohesive world that makes it easy to fall into. She excels at creating multi-faceted characters to the point that you end up cheering for all of them. You fall in love with them without even realizing it. She slowly builds the magic of the world, dripping out piece by piece of information, until all the puzzle pieces come together. The further you get into the book, the more the train starts to build up speed and you have a hard time putting it down! At the end you are fearing for all of them and horrified by the people they are up against. And boy, are the villains in this tale twisted!

Lewis also tackles some dark themes in this book while also exploring the difficulty in dealing with trauma in a realistic way. Just as the magic system slowly evolves, so too does our lead character Nicole, a woman who has been kicked out of so many places of employment that she has to work for the seedy corporation that appears to be the only option left. Her fiery temper and quick wit make her bristle under authority. I absolutely loved her. She is confident and determined to speak her mind, which of course leads her to making some not-so-great decisions. But you understand why she does it because Lewis is so good at making her believable, relatable, flawed, and human.

A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys complex magic systems, a complex love life, detailed world-buidling, and plenty of hot and heavy moments!

My rating: 5/5 magical stars

Review: Lyrics & Curses

Lyrics & Curses
By Candace Robinson

Finished: 12/11/2020

I’m a big fan of Candace’s work, and although this one was slow to get started, the final half makes up for it! I think part of it for me was the focus on the romance during the first half. While I don’t mind romance, I tend to prefer it as a side plot rather than the main plot, and I wanted to dive into the fantastic elements earlier. That’s my own preference though.

The concept of getting trapped in a mirror world and having to watch doppelgängers take over your life is fascinating! I loved the whole world-building and mechanics of that and would have loved to see it explored more.

While this was a great read with some fascinating elements, the slow build at the beginning was a little difficult for me. Folks who love sweet romances with some eerie and fantastic elements will definitely love this book! And as usual, Candace does not disappoint with the finale.

I’m really curious to see where this goes in the sequel!

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

Review: Dead Rockstar

Dead Rockstar
By Lillah Lawson

Finished: 10/2/2020

When Stormy decides to do a spell on a record album in a drunken haze,s he has no idea what she’s doing. She never expected the enigmatic rock star heartthrob, Phillip Deville, who had been dead for 20 years, to show up at her door.

What starts as a fun and sexy romp with an amateur necromancer and her hot undead rocker boyfriend turns into a much darker game as they delve deeper into the magic behind the spell. The plot is smart, twisty, fast-paced, and beautifully unpredictable. Stormy and Phillip’s chemistry is undeniable and things definitely heat up.

What I love the most about this book is how fresh and modern the writing is. Stormy is a vegan librarian who drinks on weekends with her BFF. She and her friend talk like real people and it doesn’t feel forced. Author Lilah Lawson has a quick and admirable style with witty dialogue and a pair of heroes who are to die for.

I’m excitedly anticipating the sequel!

My rating: 5/5 stars!