#ARC #Review: Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen #Fantasy #YAFantasy @torteen

What do you do in a pandemic? Read!

What do you do when it’s been strongly suggested that you self-isolate for 8 weeks because you fall into a high-risk category? Read fantasy!

And so, today it is my absolute joy to be presenting a ARC review for Danielle L. Jensen’s second instalment in the Dark Shores series, Dark Skies. If you crave imagination, beautifully wrought characters, and meticulously crafted systems of magic then you should seriously consider pre-ordering this baby – it’s May 5 publication day can’t come fast enough!

dark skiesTitle: Dark Skies

Series Title: Dark Shores

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Genre: YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: Magic, Romance, Tyranny, Rebellion, Survival

Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


From Goodreads…

Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Purchase links for Canada, the USA, and the UK.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My Review

Sometimes a series suffers from the second book slump – they have this great opening, and a fantastic conclusion, but that book in the middle is just a bridge to get you from A to B. Friends, Dark Skies is NOT that book. If anything, it’s even better than Dark Shores and I freaking loved that book!

When the book was first announced I was saddened to hear that Dark Skies would be an alternate beginning that stepped away from Teriana and Marcus and instead followed Lydia and Killian. I’m not going to lie, I wanted more of my old friends and a bit of steamy escapist romance to add some levity to these trying times, but between a few chapters of overlap in the beginning and some serious character building and backstory through the eyes of those that know Teriana, those feelings of separation anxiety didn’t last long. In fact, the stories of these four characters were so expertly intermeshed that it felt as though they were written simultaneously – there were no gaps or continuity errors, and each character provided a different facet to another’s character development. The result was a beautiful juxtaposition between personal introspection and public perception that really drew me in.

And while I wasn’t exactly Lydia’s biggest fan in Dark Shores, she turned out to be exactly the heroine that I needed to read. Nerdy, introverted, and physically weak she was a surprisingly atypical female lead. She’s terrible with a sword, her magic makes her weak to the point where she needs almost constant protection when she’s using it, and she lacks even the basic street smarts needed to care of herself on a good day (let alone one a bad one when she’s thrust into a world she doesn’t know) and yet she somehow manages to get by on sheer nerve and book smarts alone. Yet, her naivety and determination brought a good deal of humour to a dark and rather hopeless situation, and now I can’t wait to see where she’ll go in book three.

Killian is another fabulous character, made only the better because of his flaws. He walks a precarious line between what is expected of him and what he is compelled by his mark to do, what the world believes a Marked soldier is and the reality of the experience, and those he is sworn to and those that he loves. He is pulled in so many directions at any given time that it’s almost impossible not to let your own heartstrings get tangled in his mess. He is resourceful, determined, and loyal to fault – I have no doubt that when he finally comes face to face with Marcus there will be some serious friction between these two bull-headed battle prodigies.

I could talk about the slow burn romance that leaves you dangling off a cliff (noooo, I’m not salty about that, AT ALL), or a high court that has misdirection and manipulation down to a tee, but instead I’m going to focus on the magic and world building. Because, seriously, OMG! Jensen has taken on the behemoth task of creating not just one or two kingdoms with variant beliefs, but an entire world where the disparate parts are so unique that they’re almost unrecognizable from one another. And the level of originality is practically next level. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fairy/ elf/ fae/ witch/ mage story as much as the next fantasy fan girl but I adored being able to get lost in this story without any preconceived notions about the people or how the magic should work.

With Dark Skies and Dark Shores serving as companion novels, where either can be read as the first book in the series, I highly suggest you dive into this world with reckless abandon. Let yourself get swept up in the dangerous games of politics and romance, soak up the subtle critiques on critiques on colonialism and patriarchy, and ride along with your favourite new characters as they rebel against everything that was ever expected from them.

Read it book lovers, you won’t regret a single sentence.

Purchase links for Canada, the USA, and the UK.

I requested and received a review copy of this title through #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.


#PubDayPush Lilitu: The Memories of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin #DarkFantasy @Jonathan_Fortin @crystallakepub

Happy Publication Day to Jonathan Fortin!

If you like Dark Fantasy and are looking for your next Self Isolation Read, I highly suggest you get downloading ASAP! (Legally, of course, we support authors here. Purchase link below.)



England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina’s instincts compel her to action.

Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform…and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Purchase Link : getbook.at/Lilitu 

I think it goes without saying that the world is a crazy, crazy place right now. So, in order to share a little book love in light of all the cancelled tours and events, I’ll be running Publication Day Pushes #PubDayPush from now until things get back to normal. If you’re an author, publisher, and in any way connected to book world and would like another voice shouting about your book on publication day in the coming weeks, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Also, if you have a recent release and have had to cancel promotional events, don’t be afraid to get in touch. ❤ ❤ ❤

Spreading the #BookLove: I want to help

Okay, so first of all, #BookTwitter never ceases to amaze me. In a world plagued by horridness and abundant negativity there are so many bookish peeps that go out of their way every single to spread the book love. The publishers, authors, reviewers and bloggers that constantly champion books on a daily basis have made this little corner of the interwebz a dependable ray of sunshine in an uncertain world.


It’s no secret that countless authors have had to postpone tours, cancel events, and are facing uncertain launches for their works in the shadow of COVID-19. While many have been able to move their events online, host live talks, and organize some amazing digital festivals, I am firm believer that a new book can never get enough air time!

So, from now until… whenever things start to look marginally normal I would love to help you out!

Option 1: The Publication Day Push #PubDayPush

If you have a book launching in the next few weeks and want another voice spreading the word in the Twitterverse, hit me up.

I will happily feature the cover image, blurb, author bio, purchase links and any other information you think is essential. All posts will be be scheduled to go live on the blog on the book’s publication day, and I will share multiple times throughout the day on Twitter.

This option is open to all authors, publishers, and otherwise bookishly connected peeps with a title about to drop.

Option 2: Content

Do you have a book that’s either about to be published, or that has been published in the past few months, that needs an extra boost? Want to share a little more than the basic info and links? No problem, we can add in a little content!

Content I’ll happily share:

  • Guest Posts
  • Extracts
  • Q&As
  • Book Trailers
  • Author Spotlights
  • Giveaways

There’s no options for reviews on there, you say… ‘Tis true. I plan my reading weeks, if not months, in advance. I want to give the extra support that’s needed right now, and reviews would leave you hanging for a few months at least.

Again, this option is open to all authors, publishers, and otherwise bookishly connected peeps with a title about to drop.

This option is also open to all Blog Tour organizers that are in a pinch to fill a spot last minute – with illness in abundance I know there have been many last minute withdrawals from organized tours, I’ll happily fill that gap even if I’m not on your regular tour hosting list!

All requests can be made through the Contact Page on the blog, of via Twitter DM.


I’m going to be squirrelled away on quarantine for the next 8 weeks, so the opportunity to give as much book love and joy as I get from from community has me right tickled. If your book needs a little boost, just ask.

My regularly irregular reviews and blog tour stops will continue throughout.


P.S. If you need contact from your self-isolation hidey-hole and want someone to speak to you in straight memes and gifs, again, just ask.

#Blogtour #Review: Empire’s Exile by Marian L. Thorpe @rararesources @marianlthorpe

Empires Exile Full Tour Banner

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog for Marian L. Thorpe’s Empire’s Exile, the fabulous conclusion to her Empire’s Legacy trilogy. And while I’m normally excited to part in blog tours, with COVID19 taking up almost all of my brain space, stepping into Thorpe’s meticulously wrought world was like taking a vacation without any of the risks. So, naturally, I need to shout my book-love. This fun, thought provoking read will transport you across worlds and leave you hanging until the very last words. Get ready to dive back into it with Lena and Cillian, there’s adventure, loss, hope, and consequences around every corner… a few favourite characters from books past to boot!

Oh, and did I mention that there’s a giveaway? An INTERNATIONAL giveaway? Check out the rules and enter below.

Empires_Exile_Cover_for_KindleTitle: Empire’s Exile

Author: Marian L. Thorpe

Publisher: Arboretum Press

Publication Date: July 23, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Themes: Adventure, War, Relationships, Strategy, Consequences, PTSD


“We cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”

Exiled from the Empire as a traitor, Casyn’s words echo in Lena’s mind. Determined to find Casil, the legendary city of beauty and learning, she travels into long-unknown lands. Her experiences in the first winter leave her scarred and afraid, but resolving to heal, and supported by an unexpected love, she continues her search. A chance meeting with envoys from the Empire and Linrathe, desperately seeking help from Casil, forces her to a difficult decision. Struggling to keep faith with her choices, facing the almost-certain destruction of her land and her people, Lena’s journey takes her to a deeper understanding of loyalty, sacrifice, and the dimensions of love.

Purchase Link



This is an absolutely wonderful ending to an exciting trilogy. It takes all of the disparate threads from the lands Lena has explored, and weaves them all together into a beautifully wrapped up conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all resolution, not by a long shot! That all happens gradually and along the way. Instead we get to see Lena and Cillian making their way across the mountains in search of a lost land and finding so much more.

I loved Lena, probably because I relate to her needs for learning, movement, adventure, and open spaces so much. It doesn’t hurt that she’s painfully loyal to those that she befriends along the way, and that she’s painful optimistic in the way that she thinks of others. She’s a sweet, naive girl who’s been thrown into a war, cast out in exile, and forced to grow up hard and fast. But best of all she makes mistakes, suffers from the consequences of her past and present choices, and still finds a way to keep moving forward.

Pair her up against Cillian, a surly and rather taciturn fellow, who is known for retreating into his thoughts and detests deep connections and human touch and you have an interesting duo making a life together in exile. But they are the perfect balance for one another as they force each to communicate more effectively and consider other perspectives. They are both overly sensitive, but while Lena lives in her emotions, Cillian internalizes and analyzes absolutely everything. This is a great skill indeed when you’re planning war tactics, but can leave one blinded to feelings that others are incapable of expressing, which needless to say creates an ample amount of drama and humour in a story that could quickly get heavy.

What I love about Thorpe’s writing is that she doesn’t shy away from the realties of war. No one is safe from and ambush or magically survives attacks where they’re hopelessly outnumbered. People die, Lena and Cillian both take lives, and Lena must cope with the emotional of both her actions and the losses she suffers along the way. And let’s not forget the collateral damage that often comes with war – challenged allegiances and children of rape – both are tackled head on and with tact but there’s not beating around the bush to be found, and for that I am entirely grateful.

If you like your fantasy more on the realistic side, I would recommend this series in a heartbeat. While it may not have dragons and fae lurking around every corner, it has plenty of wonder and more action than you can shake a stick at. Get ready to travel into the unknown, rediscover ancient peoples once thought long extinguished, and for one final battle that holds the future of the Empire and Linrathe in the balance.

Read it friends, there is no better way to spend your quarantine or self isolation.

If this feels like the one for you, then consider the complete trilogy – Empire’s Legacy.

Empires Legacy ebook


Giveaway to Win a Paperback copy of Empire’s Legacy, the complete trilogy (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

ENTER HERE –> http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494357/? 

About the Author

Empires Hostage Author

Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings.

Social Media Links –




Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this tour, and for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Empires Exile




#Review: Mageborn by Jessica Thorne #Fantasy #YAFantasy @bookouture @JessThorneBooks

Today I get to scream my joy for a new fantasy series that I am absolutely in love with – Mageborn by Jessica Thorne. Naturally, I have broken my rule of not reading new-to-me fantasy series until they are fully written, and I have to say, I have mixed feelings. I am currently all gooey and squee because I really enjoyed reading this book, but at the same time I am fuming mad because I will now have to wait until Nightborn is released. Thankfully book two is slotted for release in May 2020 so the wait won’t be too long.

Just for the record though, I am not a patient person when it comes to books!

magebornTitle: Mageborn

Series Title: The Hollow King

Author: Jessica Thorne

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: February 18, 2020

Genre: YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: Magic, Romance, Tyranny, Rebellion

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4.5/ 5


From Goodreads…

A dark and addictive fantasy read for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas. The life of an orphan soldier becomes entwined with that of the mysterious heir to the throne, whose very presence draws out the secret magic living inside her: a magic that breaks every law she is duty-bound to uphold…

The room is small and dark. Row upon row of jars line the shelves, each one sealed with blood-red wax. The seal’s mark is a twisted circle of briar with gleaming, gold-tipped thorns. And in each jar a flicker of forbidden magic dances… beautiful, but deadly.

Sold to the Crown in the aftermath of the Last Great War, Grace Marchant has never known her parents. Now, she trains as an elite soldier tracking down mageborn – those born with an ancient and long-outlawed magic – and destroying them if they don’t surrender their power to the Crown.

The mageborn who submit are collared, then handed over to the King’s cousin and heir: the elusive Bastien Larelwynn, Lord of Thorns, locked away in his shadowy workshop deep inside the castle. What becomes of them is hard to say – the Lord of Thorns keeps his secrets close.

Grace has always fought the voice inside her that questions whether the law is truly just – but when her closest friend is next on Bastien’s list, Grace’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Confronting Bastien – searching his strangely compelling obsidian-black eyes for answers – Grace is shocked to feel herself begin to change, to show the first signs of the wild magic she so fears.

Only the Lord of Thorns has the power to save her and the rest of the mageborn – if he doesn’t destroy them all first…

My Review

Things I love in a fantasy novel:

  • A strong female protagonist (this is my personal preference, no point in trying to deny it)
  • Unique and varied systems of magic
  • BIG reveals
  • A character or two with a delectably mysterious past
  • Epic fight scenes
  • Complex and unexpected villains
  • Diversity in ethnic and romantic representation
  • A central issue that turns out to be merely symptomatic of something so, so much bigger.

So basically, Mageborn has it all! Hence my aforementioned rage at having to wait for Nightborn’s publication. I need it, and I need it now.

Are there bits of this book that were familiar? Sure. But they are also the things that I love and crave. Were these familiar elements carbon copies from other books? Hell no! Thorne has injected so much creativity and imagination that nothing gets close to predictable or boring. It’s fun, energetic, and there are twists around every corner – especially when you think you know where things are going!

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Grace and Bastien. Grace is a little firecracker (pun intended) with more spunk than anyone knows what to do with. Her caustic exterior hides a gooey centre and the love that she has for her team is so compelling. You know within the first few pages that this is a girl who would die for the ones that she loves, and that this is a quality that might cause some serious complications in the future. Bastien on the other hand knows that he will be alone in the world once his cousin passes, and his lack of support network positions him as a direct contrast to our heroine. Throw in a touch of amnesia, more power than any one human should be able to handle, and a kingdom that hates you for your title and you have a mighty nice recipe for some serious character development. And you know there have to be some sparks when opposites attract, let’s just hope these sparks don’t burn the kingdom down!

And can I just say that I’m in love with the magic system in Mageborn? I appreciate the variety in the types of magic, that mageborn children can be born to magicless parents and vice versa, that the mageborn need to be grounded in order to keep them from going hollow, and especially how magic can be stolen from from one person and channeled to another. But above all, I really appreciated how that while the magic is something that’s incredibly powerful and awe inspiring, that it’s also fragile and fleeting and needs to be protected from those who would abuse it.

I can’t wait to dive back into Rathlynn and ride alongside Grace as she rediscovers her powers as a flint, Bastien as he negotiates life after getting his memories back, and Danny and Ellyn as they make their way through a rapidly changing world. Friendships will be tested, characters are guaranteed to grow and and change, and we know that drama waits around every corner. Will tough choices have to be made? Yup. Does betrayal in some form or another seem inevitable? Yup! Will the budding romances get messy and complicated? Yuuuuup!

Not only was this a smashing read by itself, but it’s one of the most complete and intriguing set-ups for future action I’ve read in this past year. If you’re on the hunt for a fabulous fantasy read, consider Mageborn, you won’t regret it!

I requested a review copy of this title through #NetGalley, all opinions are my own.