Saturday 15 June 2024


Title: Lost Heir
Blood Weaver Trilogy
Karina Espinosa
Release Date:
14th June 2024

In the stunning sequel to the fantasy romance Blood Weaver, Leila—revealed to be Princess Lyanna of Valoria—faces new trials and deceptions. After escaping the harsh realities of the Central Plains, she returns to her homeland with Prince Caelan of Eldwain and Ronan, a hostage from the fearsome Crimson Clan of the Grasslands. But peace is fragile; the king of Valoria, seeking to avoid a war, commands the release of Ronan.

Now free, Ronan confronts Lyanna, begging forgiveness for deceiving her and unraveling truths that shake the very foundations of her beliefs. As they navigate their complicated feelings, a grand banquet hosted by Lyanna’s father draws not only dignitaries from across Asteria but also uninvited dangers. Shadows from within their own ranks threaten to turn the festive occasion into a nightmare.

Amidst these swirling conspiracies, Ronan and Leila must discover whether they can trust each other enough to confront what lies ahead. As the prophecy looms over them, their choices could save their lands—or lead them to ruin. Will the truths they uncover allow them to stand together, or is their fate already sealed? 

Goodreads Link

I love the dramatic cover, with the swords and crimson sash across them. It has aspects in common with the cover of Blood Weaver meaning it gives a really cohesive look to the series.

The book begins with a scene from the past when a young Ronan visits Eldwain with his father Chief Aryan who tells him to go off & meet his peers. When a young Ronan spots Princess Lyanna with a group of friends including Caelan who turns his back on Ronan calling both him and his people 'barbarians' but later the young Princess Lyanna talks to Ronan and at one point during their interaction even asks to plait his hair. The hair of the men of the Crimson Clan is considered sacred and touched only by their own clan women. Despite this Ronan allows the young Princess Lyanna to touch and plait his hair. This previous meeting, though brief makes an impression on the young Ronan and is probably how he realises Leila is the Princess when he meets her and she reveals she is from Valoria.

Lyanna is really worried about Selene when she gets no reply from a note she sends before she sets off back to Valoria but theres no sign of Selene nor Orion the fae who is supposed to be purchasing her freedom on Princess Lyanna's behalf. Caelan chooses to reveal the reason Marcellus was missing from the battle was that he was buying Selene from Madame Rose at the Rose Petal Lounge. Lyanna questions Caelan whether Marcellus bought or freed Selene. Caelan almost gleefully clarifies that Marcellus bought Selene.

When Lyanna confronts Marcellus about his buying Selene and his intentions towards her, theres an argument Marcellus calls Lyanna a "Crimson Whore.' Caelan enters the argument reminding Marcellus not to talk to his older sister in that way and Marcellus makes a remark about not thinking Caelan would want 'Ronans sloppy seconds' in reference to Lyanna. Lyanna has to deal with the increasingly unwanted attentions & affections of Caelan who seems to think she belongs to him and doesn't keep his intentions very subtle or quiet. If all that isn't enough it seems that at least one of Lyanna's parents is plotting against her and supporting Caelans intentions. Maybe Lyanna can use this parental divide of opinion to her own advantage. Lyanna is determined not to follow the future one parent has mapped out for her, meaning this parent and is far from happy when Lyanna rebels.

It's clear Lyanna feel stifled and trapped now she is back at the Palace but she knows she has to pick her battles with her parents carefully. Lyanna preferred and misses her life as Leila the healer, she has seen and experienced the world outside the Palace and has ideas of her own how things should look in her future. She refuses to be used as a pawn in some power game created by others. With the arrival of Ronan's father the Chief Aryan, leader of the Crimson Clan, at her parents invitation, Lyanna has yet another person intent on using her for their own gains.

With all these problems it's no wonder Lyanna let's her looking out for Selene and protecting her from the Queen and her followers slide, but she isn't afraid to stand up for her friend, and Lyanna and Marcellus uniting and speaking up for Selene brings them closer together again, which is a good thing as I think Lyanna is going to need all the help she can get and as many allies as possible to fight alongside her for the future she desires.

Lost Heir is packed full of amazing characters from the main ones to the smaller ones. Characters I absolutely loved in Lost Heir, were of course Lyanna/Leila, Ronan the brave, loyal Henry. I also continue to like Selene at the moment too.
I will say I warmed a little more to Marcellus, and Silas again. I also immediately took an instant liking to Viktor who we meet when he is guarding Princess Lyanna on her return to the Palace. Its then revealed he is Sir Edric's son. He is very subtle and tactical how he protects Lyanna without making her feel stifled or taking over her life. It is his idea to put Tessa, a mage warrior in place as Lyanna's Lady in waiting.
I aren't sure whether the fae Orion is friend or foe to Lyanna, I'm hoping its friend and if things go wrong with the prophecy he could maybe help put things right. It also seems like Mikhal on one hand is Lyanna's friend but perhaps she should be worried what he will want in return.
I admit to enjoying hating Caelan and really hope that he gets a suitable comeuppance preferably at the hands of Lyanna or if not maybe Marcellus.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing Lost Heir were, Wow! How could you end it there!!! So to say I am eagerly awaiting the final installment is an understatement!

Summing up, definitely recommend reading this series, I'm seriously loving it! It's difficult to say more without giving much away, but I can't wait to see how the prophecy unfurls. I desperately want Lyanna or her more free, happier version Leila and Ronan to be together, but I feel there are more hurdles and battles for Lyanna to climb and conquer and more to be revealed before that can happen. I look forward to reading it. 


Monday 10 June 2024



Title: The Branded
The Branded Season
Jo Riccioni
Angry Robot
Release Date:
11th June 2024

BLURB from Goodreads
Isfalk is divided into two classes: the Branded, who are vulnerable to disease, and the Pure, who are bigger, stronger and immune. Orphaned twins Nara and Osha are sequestered in the citadel, where their unbranded skin entitles them to a life of privilege, as precious breeding stock.

Nara itches to escape her confines and return to the wilds of the Fornwood where she and her sister grew up, but when she is forced to run, she discovers there's much more at stake than her own life. The Branded are on the rise, and the girls are caught up in their prophecies.

Forced to accept the help of a mysterious southern Brand known only as the Wrangler, Nara discovers the latent power lying dormant in uncanny abilities she's had since childhood. But in a world where women are traded as commodities, who can she trust in the lands beyond the Fornwood? What does the Wrangler know about her forgotten childhood? Two sisters without a past hold the weight of the future in their hands.

The Branded is an epic, high-concept speculative novel with explosive ideas around gender and class, served up with romance, conflict and quick-fire narrative pace.

It was the book cover that first drew my attention to the book, I think it looks very mysterious and hints at a darkness.

The book centres on a place called Isfalk, a place of relative safety, which is made up of the branded & unbranded. In this case the unbranded are viewed as pure, they descend from four main families. These unbranded individuals are to be taken care of at all costs, especially the women referred to as the “Mor” as they represent the future, as they are the ones that will breed and make sure their civilisation continues. The branded however are seen as “less than”, they have the “brand” on their skin, in varying degrees. They are also more susceptible to illnesses, especially the brume. The branded are the servants that do all the work considered beneath the Unbranded. The branded live outside the inner Citadel in Isfalk in rundown homes and try to eke out an existence barely getting by, scavenging for food and resources.

The two main female characters are Nara & Osha, two sisters brought up by their grandmother, Amma until the day men came to their home living out in the wilds and burnt their home down and murdered their grandmother. She had always taught them that if anything happened to her, they should head to Isfalk, to a man named Larrs Oskarsson who would take care of them. When they arrived at Isfalk they were examined and proven to be unbranded, pure and so as they were considered Mor they were admitted to the Citadel and schooled in the way of the Isfalk and adopted their ways and culture. Though Nara & Osha are twins and it is said their faces mirror each other, they are really quite different.

Osha has a fuller figure, is taller, and is easy going and pliable, Nara is smaller, lean, has her own mind and opinion on everything and doesn’t really care to keep quiet about it. Their Amma (grandmother) nicknamed Nara Narkat, which in their solitary dialect means something small, wild & fierce, she taught Nara to hunt and survive.

Amma taught Osha how to help women deliver babies, stop inner bleeding, treat yellow blush & even how to bring back a “blue born”(branded babies). Amma taught Osha about Fornwood herb, lore and healing arts.

Both young women rebel in their own ways, Nara escapes the confines of the Citadel and practices fighting, goes hunting and collect herbs and plants for Osha to make her remedies from. Osha takes risks making her remedies and researches the old apotheka books by Fenderhilde. Osha reads about what Fenderhilde knew about the Brume. He talks about shielding the branded infants by having them drink the blood of the pure to give them immunity! Osha wants to find a cure for the brume one day to give to everyone. These pursuits are forbidden at Isfalk, the Mor are expected to be paired with an unbranded male and have a child every year for the rest of their child bearing years, the idea of which Nara abhors.

The sister’s best friend in Isfalk is Brim Oskarsson, the nephew of Lars. Brim has grown up with the girls, secretly teaching Nara how to fight and covering for her when she sneaks away from Isfalk on her hunting trips. However, as they are all older, with Brim now being a Warder Captain it is his job to guard the Mor and Isfalk he tries to get Nara to promise not to sneak off anymore, saying he cannot cover for her, despite him having romantic feelings for her. Brim is being groomed to take on the duty of his family as an Oskarsson, one of the four founding ones, things are changing for him whether he likes it or not.

When things take a really bad turn, the girls find themselves captured to be sold to the head of the Orlathon’s they are now on the outside, away from the protection of Isfalk and relying on a strange branded male known as the Wrangler for help and a Reis Chief. To further complicate matters the Reis Chief Haus is fascinated by Osha and Nara can’t help having feelings for the Wrangler. Both sisters have to use their individual gifts and strengths to survive what is ahead.

So much happens in this book, there so many twists and turns. Things the sisters think they know about that are spun on their head. The secrets around the necklaces the sisters have always treasured and then the pattern on the coin that Nara is given.

I enjoyed the different proverb like lines within the book, such as 'Good pairings rely on good reputations' and the school creed that the Unbranded have to recite three times a day of "Through pairing & progeny to purpose.” Theres some amazing characters in the book from the main ones of Osha, Nara, Wrangler, Brim and Haus.

I could go on and on about this book and its characters but really shouldn’t as I do not want to give away too many spoilers. I’m really bursting to say more but won’t. I will just list a few of the other really interesting characters such as the sinister Mother Iness, Father Ulaf, Frida, and Frenka.

I adored all the different romantic scenarios of Nara & Brim? Osha & Brim? Wrangler/Nixim & Nara? Osha & Haus? Then there’s the “big cryptic prophecy” that the Wranglers people, the Reis believe in. There’s the mystery of the real reason of who killed Amma and why. There’s also the question of how Lars Oskarrson is caught up in it all, and the secrecy surrounding Nara & Osha's gifts & the identity of their parents.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were Wow! Loved it! Can't wait to read more.

Summing up I really enjoyed discovering the different cultures and traditions Isfalki - Pure/Brand, Orlathon and Reis. I also loved all the Romance......the different pairings that were more like triangles! And all the switching round! I seriously cannot wait to read The Rising!!


Tuesday 4 June 2024



Title: The Testaments
The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Release Date:
10th September 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." --Margaret Atwood

Goodreads Link

This book picks up over fifteen years after Offred’s tale in the Handmaids Tale. The Testaments tells the story of three females from Gilead, Agnes, Aunt Lydia and Nicole.

We learn that though Agnes had a fairly good start at a life with Tabitha and Commander Kyle. Unfortunately, Tabitha is taken ill and when she dies and Commander Kyle takes a new wife called Paula, things rapidly go from bad to worse for Agnes. Then when she is touched inappropriately whilst at the dentist she has no where to turn. The dentist is her best friend Becka’s father so she can’t even really confide in her either. Agnes is being pushed out more and more at home with all Paula’s changes, bringing in a handmaid. Sadly, Ofkyle dies giving birth to baby Mark. Agnes’s popularity goes up and down in a way that shadows her life at home. Agnes overhears people saying that her mother was a slut from before. Agnes leaves behind the pink/plum uniform and is transferred along with some of her friends to wife preparatory school where they wear the light and dark green uniform of those awaiting marriage. Not all the girls wish to be married but their families try and push them into hoping that they are paired with a powerful Commander who will lift the whole family higher on the Gilead hierarchy.

The second female voice of the book is that of Aunt Lydia. We learn about her life “before” Gilead as a Judge who dealt with families and what is considered by Gilead as all that was wrong with society. We discover how Aunt Lydia was herself rounded up when women were stripped of their rights and assets. We see how she was mistreated and forced to do the bidding of the men, though she herself was also instrumental in coming up with some of the punishments for the women who would not comply. A woman who she kind of befriends when they are rounded up, refused to comply and was shot dead in front of Aunt Lydia. The women were made to turn on and turn in each other or not complying with the new rules and ideas. It becomes apparent that Aunt Lydia has worked her way up the ranks of the Aunt’s into a fairly safe position where she can orchestrate certain things to her liking and to further her own cause. She uses her knowledge and position with certain Commanders to get things done, all whilst making the Commander think it was his idea or allowing him to take credit when her idea is applauded by those further up the chain of command in Gilead.

The third female voice is that of a young girl called Daisy who has been living with Melanie and Neil in Canada. All has gone fairly normal and quite mundane in her life until her 16th Birthday when a car bomb explodes and kills both Melanie and Neil. She is grabbed from the street by family friend Ada and taken into hiding. There Daisy takes on a new identity, Jade, in order to hide whilst learning her actual true identity and why it is so important that no one know who she really is. Daisy/Jade is now involved with the resistance against Gilead and is given a very important role to play.

There are some other amazing characters in The Testaments apart from the three main voices of the book. Becka, whose father inappropriately touches Agnes, who defiantly slashes her wrists with gardening secateurs in an effort to avoid a marriage she does not want. Becka is taken away and speaks with Aunt Lydia, Becka then starts her training to become first a missionary and finally a full Aunt herself, taking a new name as all new Aunt recruits do, becoming Aunt Immortelle. Becka hasn’t had a very good life really and she truly believes she can make a difference and really gets on board with the idea of going on a mission. Then at the last moment she is given a different way to help and she unquestioningly does what she perceives to be needed at the time. I also loved the character of Ada, though have to admit that at one point I thought she was going to turn out to be June! I was wrong but Ada is heavily involved with the resistance.

I really, really loved this book and read it fairly quickly, I seriously hated having to put it down! I approached reading The Testaments thinking that all my questions from the Handmaids Tale would be answered, some were, but after finishing The Testamants I had even more! And has made me want even more from Margaret Atwood and this series! I’m also looking forward to watching more of the Handmaids Tale, I’m thinking I will be seeing a few different angles of the story when I do. In fact, The Testaments has made me want to watch the Handmaids Tale from the beginning again. So, whether you have read Handmaids Tale or just watched it on TV I highly recommend you read this unputdownable read!