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Well, the first week of March is already a fact, so this February 2021 reading wrapup is well overdue already.
The 1st of February marked my 28th birthday, which was a little weird with COVID happening. Normally, we’d go out to a nice restaurant or something, but we couldn’t this year. Good thing I’m not huge on celebrating my birthday though; I don’t think I’ve held a party in years 😜
Alright, so what have I actually read in February?
We got: The Stolen Kingdom, a YA Fantasy Romance, Spellmaker, NA Historical Fantasy Romance, These Violent Delights, Historical Fantasy Romance Retelling, and finally, The Fires of Virko, an epic fantasy story. So, lots of romance stories, yet all of them are very different.
Table of Contents
Mini-reviews February 2021
The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Pubdate: 2nd of March
Publisher: Tor Teen
I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Perin Faye’s kingdom was once prosperous until the throne was taken by the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. The Thungrave leaders have access to dark and powerful magic, making them a force to be reckoned with. Alac Thungrave, the second son, has always been grateful that he’s not in line for the throne. He doesn’t want anything to do with the dark, stolen magic. But things might change when Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, discovers that her magical power is proof that she’s part of the ancient bloodline and has a claim to the throne. She gets embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, but can she go through with that when she actually meets Alac, and the Thungraves don’t seem so evil after all?
The story was quite fast-paced, with Maralyth quickly kidnapped and told that she’s the legitimate heir to the throne. At the same time, we see Alec, who’s struggling with the pull from the dark magic his father gifted him. He both fears and desires it, even after discovering the magic is destructive. What I did found somewhat annoying was that the history of Perin Faye was repeated a bit too much, even when it was already clear to the reader.
I must say, the author did a good job with twists as well, as there were definitely some moments I hadn’t expected. I think not a lot of authors would’ve dared. I also felt the ending was good and satisfying, as I also thought it might go in another direction. Instead, I think the actual ending is much better.
I liked both of the characters, though I thought Maralyth’s jump from unwanting hero to wanting heir was a bit sudden. Other than that, I enjoyed reading about their chemistry and the increased tension that resulted from that.
It is a great book to read if you love conspiracies, royal courts, and a complicated romance between enemies.
Spellmaker (Spellbreaker duology #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genre: NA Historical Urban Fantasy Romance
Pubdate: 9th of March
I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Spellmaker picks up where Spellbreaker left off: Elsie Camden knows who is behind the murders of the spellmakers and the thefts of their opuses. She just can’t do anything about it or risk being exposed as an unregistered spellbreaker. But when she refuses to join forces with the assassin, her secrets get out anyway, and Elsie is thrown in jail. Bacchus Kelsey is willing to do whatever it takes to get Elsie out of jail. He succeeds, helping Elsie become registered, but there’s one caveat: they need to get married to prove the story Bacchus made up. Between faking her lessons and questioning Bacchus’s true feelings for her, Elsie still plans to bring down the assassin who put her in jail. She needs to thwart the plans of the criminal. But she needs to be careful, or she might play right into the assassin’s hands.
I loved the sequel to Spellbreaker. The story’s really kicked up a notch with Elsie being thrown straight in jail. How can things get any worse?
Well, they do.
But there are also good things, as Elsie and Bacchus are now getting married. I really loved Bacchus here; he was so sweet to Elsie, really trying to make her see that his feelings are genuine, even if she thinks she’s not worth it to be loved.
The ending was great, and everything really came together. It’s pretty obvious from the start that Elsie will use the opus spell she kept, but the question is: how and on who? A lot happens in the story, and it’s certainly never boring.
The only thing that I missed is that we still don’t really know by the end why Elsie is special, how she’s a powerful Spellbreaker, and what actually happened to her parents. So not all tied endings, but it didn’t feel unresolved somehow. Who knows, maybe we’ll get another series starring Elsie and Bacchus.
It would be cool, cause I’ve really come to love this world and the magic system!
The spellbreaker duology is definitely worth a read if you enjoy a good murder mystery, an original magic system, and a slow-developing, blooming romance.
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Romance, Retellings
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
In Shanghai, 1926, the city is in the grips of chaos, with a blood feud between two gangs turning the streets red. On the one hand, we have the heir of the Scarlet Gang, Juliette Cai. Their rival is the White Flowers, with their heir Roma Montagov. He’s Julliette’s first love and first betrayal. But things turn dark when an incomprehensible madness has gangsters on both sides clawing out their own throats. Whispers of a monster fill the streets. Roma and Juliette are forced to set aside their grudges and guns to work together so that they can stop the madness. If they fail, there won’t be a city for them left to rule.
Violent, bloody, and exciting: that’s these violent delights. Gong keeps us on our feet, trying to figure out what the monster is, how the madness spreads, and who’s behind it all. With every clue uncovered, we get closer, yet things also get more and more complicated.
As for the setting, Gong does such a wonderful job in describing Shanghai. I loved the phrases describing Shanghai more as a person than a city, the troubles it’s in, the invaders all trying to get a piece of a foreign city. Such wonderfully crafted prose. The author is a master in zooming in and out as she tells the story.
The characters all have a voice of their own, and all have a unique way of seeing the world and each other. That’s what I loved most about Julliette and Roma: both think they know the other through and through until the cracks start to show in their facade.
It’s a fast-paced story, with some great twists at the end (though not completely unexpected). I loved the conclusion, and I think it was an original way to portray the classic Romeo and Juliet.
So, if you love a good mystery, brooding romance, and dark, complex characters set in a changing city with a lot of history: this is the book for you.
The Fires of Virko (We are Voulhire #2) by Mathew Tysz
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
I received a free copy of this book on OnlineBookClub in exchange for an honest review.
While I enjoyed reading this second book, I also felt slightly disappointed by it. The previous book was a clear introduction to the world and the characters. For The Fires of Virko, I expected things to pick up and continue with higher stakes and a quicker pace. Instead, this book felt more like an extensive subplot to the main one.
So, what’s the book about: Galen and his friends, Demetrius and Rowan, go there to help Galen secure a deal for iron so that he can start forging. There’s an ominous air in the city itself, and it doesn’t take long for them to figure out the source: a demon. It seems to be controlled by a man who goes by the name of Folcro, but his intentions are still unclear.
What I did like about this book was the underlying theme: a commentary on the evil side of capitalism, human greed, and consumerism. At least, that is what I got out of it. Further, we meet new characters and learn more about the city Virko and its inhabitants. One of the new characters is Kayden, who seems to be a kind man, yet struggling with who he is and with the darkness that’s inside of him. Of all the characters in this book, he probably has the biggest transformation, and I think he’ll be a big part of the sequels as well.
However, I think there went a lot of detail into this book, whereas this didn’t need to be such a big story. I feel like it’s getting further away from the overarching global story. In fact, I’d argue that the book is missing such an overarching global story. While Galen and his friends are on a continuous hunt for forging materials, and Meldorath and his plans are a recurring feature, it seems to be in the background. There’s no ‘ring to be destroyed’ or ‘object to be acquired.’ There’s no clear goal to the story.
I did, however, enjoy the ending of the book, even though there were some pretty gruesome moments. I am looking forward to the next books, as I’m interested in what comes next, especially what Meldorath is planning.
If you enjoy reading fantasy and are looking for some shorter and easy-to-read stories, then We Are Voulhire is a good series to read. It’s enjoyable; there are diverse characters and plenty of interesting worldbuilding. However, it lacks some character development, as most characters in the story don’t seem to change all that much. I’d also argue that this second book is more of an extensive subplot, made bigger than it needed to be.
Other Blog Posts
New On This Blog
🍁 If you’re looking for some great Fantasy Romance books, either more diverse or standard, check out this list.
🍁 What’s gonna be new in March? Check out the 18 Best Fantasy & Sci-Fi book releases of March 2021.
🍁 For a dark and enjoyable read, with much detail on the mystical, read Wild, Dark Times.
🍁 After Nevernight, I dove into the sequel, Godsgrave. You can find my full review of it here.
🍁 Did you see my review of Spellmaker, and wonder about the first book? Check out my full review of Spellbreaker here.
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
🍁 For a review of Black Sun, an adult sci-fi fantasy adventure book, check here.
🍁 Looking for some fantasy standalones? Check them out here.
🍁 Looking for more books with queer characters? Check out this list with books coming out in 2021.
It's a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my reviews or any of the other recommendations and blog-posts I linked here in my February 2021 reading wrap-up. I hope it helps you choose your next read for March
So, what will I be reading in March?
I’m still reading Darkdawn, so I hope to finish it this month. Other than that, I have some Netgalley books: Max and the Spice Thieves, and Penumbra. Both are releasing in April. I’ll see if I have time for more books after I finish those.
So, what did you read in February? Which was your favorite? And what are you planning to read in March?
Let me know in the comments!