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Review: Spark (Fire Within #4) by Ella M. Lee

Spark by Ella M. Lee
Here’s book 1, book 2, and book 3!

Recommended: yo, if you’ve come this far into the series you’re OBVIOUSLY not stopping here. YES READ IT!!!!

Summary

It’s been nearly a year since the extraordinary but devastating creation of Lightning Clan, and Fiona Ember is still reeling from starting over yet again—without her closest friend. Although the clan has painstakingly continued their work of taming the persnickety magic, Fiona is having a hard time embracing her new power and letting the past go.

But when a message arrives from Sky Clan inviting Fiona, Nicolas, and Ryan to a conclave of the pinnacle members from all nine clans, she can no longer ignore her newfound place in the magical world. The other clans will be looking for answers about the new magic, and not all the questions will be easy.

To make things more difficult, anomalies have appeared in Lightning’s sanctum that could change everything magicians have ever known to be true about magic—if only Lightning could puzzle out their exact nature.

Thoughts

After the ending of the third book, I think there’s no surprise that there’s a lot going on at the start of this one, and primarily sad things. Chaotic things. Grief features heavily, so brace yourself because it’s really really tough at times how raw it was. I cried a lot at the end of the last book, and this one was no different. Ella M Lee has a string attached directly to my tear ducts.

My suspicions about what this book would entail were 50% correct. I predicted one of the main plot points, but that was about it. The details of how things occurred, the resolutions of several other large problems, and the very last pages were all fitting with the characters and the decisions they would make. After binge reading 4 books in this fabulous series, I feel really attached with the characters and their lives. It was really hard at times when characters made decisions that were SO in tune with who they are, but absolutely broke my heart for them to make.

While I’m a softie and I cried a lot as always, this was still full of hope and drama and excitement. The bulk of the book takes place during a clan event, so there was a lot to learn about some of the other clans we haven’t seen as much of yet. The politicking was also on full display, along with some intriguing new rules of the magic world. The world-building and lore and rules of magic are a core draw for me for any fantasy novel, and Lee delivered in this installment. The knowledge building aligned us with Fiona as she learned through it all as well.

And of course, we FINALLY get to learn about Lightning magic!! Yo, it’s cool as shit. Promise: it does not disappoint.

This book is best defined by the word bittersweet. While I could have immediately dove into book 5, and absolutely wanted to, I paused here to just let it sit for a little while. This whole arc was extremely intense and I wanted to soak in all the questions, because I can never experience these for the first time again (barring some horrible amnesiac event which I hope does not occur). And I can say that after a few weeks of finishing this book (in two days…), I’m still thinking about it and marveling at how very extremely good it is.

I’m ready for book five.

Break my heart again, Lee.

Thank you to Booksirens and Ella M Lee for a free digital copy. This is my honest review!

Posted in Reviews

Review: Ashes (Fire Within #3) by Ella M. Lee

Ashes by Ella M. Lee
Verdict: THE BEST ONE YET
(book one here and book two here!)

Summary

After several shocking near-deaths and an even more shocking resurrection, Fiona is more determined than ever to unravel the mystery behind who is targeting her group and why. And after finding out some startling information about her infamous boyfriend’s bloody past, she is eager to come to terms with dating someone so driven to complete his goals.

As Fiona’s group edges closer to completing Nicolas’s and Daniel’s ambitious plans to change the magical world forever, they will need to work harder than ever to navigate problems with new magic and interference from old enemies…

Thoughts

Ella M Lee’s acknowledgements for this book start off like this: “I cried a lot while writing Ashes. I think you can imagine why.”

YUP I CAN, because I was still crying when I read the acknowledgments. In fact at one point while I was sobbing my way through the last quarter of this book, my boyfriend asked for help with something and I had to preface to him that yes, I was crying, but only because this book was SO GOOD. And twenty minutes later when he came upstairs, he was incredulous that I was still crying over this book. It’s just that masterfully done, y’all.

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Review: Ignited (Fire Within #2) by Ella M. Lee

Ignited by Ella M. Lee
(See the first book here: Fire Within)

Recommended: yes, keep the series going!

Summary

Four weeks have passed since Fiona Ember was captured by Nicolas Demarais, the powerful and deadly Water Clan magician she foolishly attempted to assassinate. Relieved that she has impressed Nicolas and reclaimed her life, she’s stunned to find that Nicolas has ambitious plans to change the world of magic forever—and they involve Fiona’s newfound magical abilities.

But achieving those goals certainly won’t be easy. Fiona will need to navigate the slippery magic of Water Clan, survive her new group’s difficult operations, and face more than a few challenges with her new lieutenant. On top of that, she’ll need to confront her growing attraction to Nicolas, as she realizes she’s falling for the sweeter and softer side of him.

And little does she know, Nicolas’s grand plans for the future are drawing the attention of his enemies, and the new life that Fiona has found may not be so safe after all…

Thoughts

If book one is all about the setup and changed for Fiona, book two is all about her new relationships. That definitely means a lot of Fiona and Nicolas figuring out whatever they are and want to be, but also her relationships with the other members of the clan.

This one was good, but not my favorite. Simply put, this one doesn’t have a lot of action or momentum on its own. It’s an important piece of the larger story in the series, but this one is definitely a lot of talking! There are some pretty pivotal and intense moments of action as well, but the bulk is a calmer pace of interaction and discovery.

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Review: Fire Within by Ella M Lee

Fire Within by Ella M. Lee
Verdict: OH MY GOD WHAT A FIND!!!! 😍

Recommended: yes!
For people with time because you won’t want to stop reading, for a fascinating and creative world of magic, for a blend of modern with magic, for a new-life kind of story, for action and emotional conflict

Summary

Fiona Ember’s life has been shattered to pieces. After an assassination attempt gone awry, her friends are dead, she’s lost her magic, and she’s now imprisoned by the magician she just tried to kill. To make matters worse, she learns he’s the infamous Auspex, who possesses the gifts of precognition and mind-reading, and who’s known for his deadly and unyielding reputation.

Resigned to torture and execution, Fiona is surprised when the Auspex offers her a chance to live—but first, she will need to demonstrate the value he’s seen in her future. Fiona must discover what he wants from her quickly, before his patience runs out.

Thousands of miles from home and alone in enemy territory, what are Fiona’s hopes of impressing the Auspex and reclaiming her life and magic? And what happens when she starts being drawn unwittingly into his dangerous and mysterious plans?

Thoughts

This book STARTS after an assassination attempt, which is what most stories would dramatically culminate with. So be assured that what follows is indeed even more epic than that, and continues through the series.

I was so hopeful that I would enjoy this, and I did even more than I expected. It was the kind of book where I squeezed in a few more pages as I was brushing my teeth, or falling asleep in bed, or right before I had to start work for the day. Any free moment, I was reading it, and any non-free moment, I was thinking about it. Read this in a day or two (would’ve been one session if it were the weekend!).

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Review: Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody

Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a faery tale that is pretty much exactly what you would expect, for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses, for a story that’s more about the character and the plot than any romance

Summary:
Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real. Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King. Or until he’s taken out of the running… Sabotaging Brannick’s chance at the crown will be much faster than helping him win. The fae prince may be charming, powerful, and wickedly handsome, but that won’t stop Elora from selling his secrets to the highest bidder. By day, she uses her master sword skills to train the prince, while ignoring her growing attraction to him. By night, she conspires with a rival king in a nearby court whose plans could destroy half of Faerie. If she gets caught, Brannick will kill her. But what’s life without a little bit of danger?

Thoughts:
I was delighted by how much I enjoyed Kay L Moody’s other series, The Elements of the Crown, so when I saw that she had published the first in a new series, I was ready to jump in. From the description, I expected it to be a fun read but probably not anything that would blow me away with originality, and that’s about what I got. The world of fae and strong human females who get pulled into the world is a very popular theme, so it’s hard to do anything new, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be done well — and Moody certainly did!

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Review: The Elements of the Crown by Kay L Moody

The Elements of the Crown by Kay L Moody – ⭐⭐⭐
A strong collection covering a whole lot of ground + and this isn’t even the full story!

Recommended: yes
For a fantasy that covers a lot of elements, for a story that progresses through different interesting stages and plot lines, for an MC who feels real

Summary:
In an empire divided into three rings, seventeen-year-old Talise is from the dangerous and crime-laden outer ring. Her only chance for escape is to become Master Shaper—an honored position in the palace court and military. Each year, the emperor chooses one student to receive the title. After ten years of training at an elite academy, Talise clearly has a gift for manipulating the elements of water, air, earth, and fire. But Aaden, a handsome student from the privileged inner ring, is poised to steal the title away from her. When they come before the emperor, he is impressed with the great skill both Talise and Aaden possess. He presents them with a set of trials, and she knows this is the chance she needs to prove herself. As long as Aaden doesn’t ruin everything. But secrets hide in every corner of the palace, masking a conflict far more dangerous than her previous home in the outer ring. Now, she must play along with the emperor’s lies and games, or else she will lose her life to an enemy she never expected.

Thoughts:
I’m really glad I got the collection of the first four novels, because if I had to stop at the end of any of the different books I would have been mad. And that is always a good sign! I was delighted to learn there’s even another after this set, which I will be picking up soon. I’m not sure if that one is the end of the series or not, and I’m also not sure if I want it to be.

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-500 to the Future 2020

The farthest back and farthest forward publish dates of books I’v read. Quite a range there! One from a time we now measure in negative numbers, to a year that hasn’t happened yet. Booksirens has some cool analysis of Goodreads data.

That -500 one in Chinese is Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War. I read it during a rough period at work, seeking inspiration. I didn’t get much inspiration, but it was entertaining! I tried to figure out why it’s still touted as a great business book…and failed.

The one in 2020, Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin, is absolutely STUNNING, and I highly recommend you get a copy as soon as you can! Pre-order!

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Into the Wildbarrens by Christian Sterling

Into the Wildbarrens by Christian Sterling – ⭐⭐
Thanks to Christian Sterling and BookSirens for providing a free copy for review!

Recommended: nah
It felt too cookie cutter, like a practice story that was given the major path to follow and then filled in with the corresponding characters and events. Also in dire need of some basic proofreading / editing. Honestly, if the digital version can be updated with some fixes to those issues, it would be 3 stars.

What a lovely color combo

Summary:
Learn the origins of the wise old wizard from when he was still young and naive…. Falin is twenty years into his thousand-year life as a wizard, which means it’s time for him to set out with champions from each kingdom to find the gems destined to bring him to his full power as a wizard. When it’s revealed that he must travel into the Wildbarrens, a place of unbounded evil and where the dark Warlocks are only one of many problems, the journey takes on an unexpected amount of peril (even for an already admittedly perilous journey!)

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