2.5 star, YA

Review: Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

Series: Serpent & Dove #3

The spellbinding conclusion to the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling trilogy Serpent & Dove. This stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Evil always seeks a foothold. We must not give it one.

After a heartbreaking loss, Lou, Reid, Beau, and Coco are bent on vengeance more than ever before—and none more so than Lou.

But this is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. No longer the Lou that captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.



“I am capable of great evil.” The words hung in the air between us, as sentient as the mist. They waited, coiled, for my response. For my clarification. For my own truth.

I looked directly in her eyes. “We all are.”

I may not have been the most vocal about it, but I am not the biggest fan of this series. I just chugged my way through it since I got the ARC for Serpent & Dove. I thought maybe I could come to like it since it’s so well loved but it’s good to know I guess that that’s not the case at all.

Set in the aftermath of the crazy conclusion of book 2, I’m still a little quite salty about the death of a main character. Thankfully, they make a cameo appearance in some capacity in this one so there’s some closure to their story, but I’m still upset because they’re my favourite of all of them.

Lou upsets me most of the time. I just can’t stand her. I’m sorry if you loved her character, but she seems so over the top and unnecessarily trying to rile people. I understand she hasn’t had it easy in life with, you know, her mother trying to kill her and all that, but I lose my patience with her often.

Reid isn’t all that much better, but at least I enjoy him more. Together, their relationship is fun entertainment but I didn’t understand this enemies to lovers romance because they seem like such fundamentally different people. I suppose I’m not one of those people who think opposites attract (and last).

So why isn’t this rated lower? Great question, friend.

First, 1 full extra star rating was given because I listened to this as an audiobook. I very rarely listen to audiobooks but this was a great book selection to do so. The actors voicing Reid and Lou had very entertaining voices they gave each other and it just made the drier sections of the book pass by quicker. I have to applaud them for that in some way.

Second, I don’t love Reid and Lou’s relationship in any way – I stand by my opinion that there are better enemies to lovers stories out there and I don’t love the trope enough to love any couple that comes to be because of it – but the romantic angst in this one was on point. There was a reason why there was drama between them that was relevant to the plot and played a major role for what needed to happen in their final battle against Lou’s mother.

Third, Shelby made one good messaging point in this book and the series that no one is righteous. Reid the holy chasseur seeking out witches and the witch who saved another from their suffering on the stake are equally capable of great evil and good. It’s a choice to make, over and over again. That was something Lou and Reid had to learn about themselves, beyond the upbringing and world they grew up in. I think that’s something that resonates deeply with me and I do appreciate that.

The ending wrapped up in a way I think gave proper closure to these characters if you loved them throughout the journey they took. The climax felt like it went by too quickly (we were all waiting on this since the BEGINNING of book 1), but others may be satisfied with the big battle with Morgane.

All I can say is, Gods & Monsters wasn’t for me, but at the same time, I will be fair in saying it wasn’t the worst out there. I can see why people love it, but these were the reasons why I couldn’t.

Overall Recommendation:

Gods & Monsters is a conclusion to a beloved series I just still cannot fully fathom. Listening to the audiobook version made the slower middle parts more bearable but the climax, the penultimate battle against Lou’s mother and her band of witches, fell a little flat after all the set up that went into it. I’m still not on board with Reid and Lou’s relationship, but I will admit at least the romantic angst in this last book was relevant to the plot and entertaining in that way. But most of all, the most positive thing I have to say about the book, is the message that we are all capable of great evil. It’s the choices we make that matter. If that’s the one thing I can hold onto from this series that didn’t hit it for me, I will take it.

5 star, YA

ARC Review: Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

Perfect for readers of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus, this lush and layered story about magic and the captivating power of dreams is delivered with acclaimed author Rebecca Ross’s signature exquisite style.

A curse plagues the realm of Azenor—during each new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians, who serve as territory wardens, stand between people and their worst dreams.

Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians challenge her, she is unwittingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she secretly gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets begin to rise. Clementine must unite with her rival to fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn.



**Dreams Lie Beneath comes out November 2, 2021!**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have read Rebecca Ross’ books since her debut, The Queen’s Rising. And her latest standalone novel is just a testament of her growth as a writer and the marvelous worlds she creates.

The realm of Azenor isn’t super detailed in its world building but that is no matter because the characters and their history carry the story through. In a place where nightmares come alive every new moon, there rises magicians who use their skills to conquer and keep their delegated citizens safe.

Clementine is our heroine and I loved reading through her POV. Headstrong and loyal to her family, she never gave up on the home she grew up in, the people she cared for, as the daughter of a magician who taught her everything she knows.

The plot of the book is separated into 3 acts. I won’t go into super detail about each as I think a realm of surprise is an experience for this novel. But the pacing was superb, and it really felt like there was a climax within each act that kept me flipping the pages nonstop.

The first act really focuses on the world we’re settling into. Magicians have their own village or section within a city they are responsible for. They tend to the nightmares of these citizens so they are prepared to fight them on the new moon. But, sometimes, a magician can challenge another magician for that land they oversee, and oh boy, do we get introduced to our love interest here.

Clem obviously wanted revenge and so the book also embarks on this enemies to lovers romance wherein she decides to enact a crazy plan in order to make her enemies hurt as much as she suffered. Of course, one doesn’t expect she’ll start falling for the guy she’s spying on, our sensitive hero Phelan.

Yet at the heart of this is a mystery surrounding the curse that started the magical nightmares once a month. With a whole kingdom lost to whatever magic binds it, other things are in the works behind the scenes that Clem stumbles upon that may lead to the end of everything she grew up knowing. The key players involved in breaking the curse were not immediately known and so I had a blast trying to guess and figure out who in the story may be a player in disguise.

I feel knowing a little less about this book is better than knowing too much because it keeps the surprises going. I was constantly wondering where Rebecca was going with this plot, and I was always pleasantly surprised when I couldn’t quite guess it.

I did wish a bit more of the secondary characters had more depth to them, or just more of an appearance in the book. For example, Phelan’s twin brother is just a jerk but I really don’t know anything else about him that makes him more three-dimensional. At the heart of it, this story is really about Clem and Phelan. I’m not complaining about that in any way because I love them both, but some of the other characters felt a little like they had to be introduced in order to play a minor role.

There’s a lot of focus on family in this story too, and I definitely got emotional at the end. I loved the growth Clem goes through as she had to make choices to determine who she really wanted to become. By no means she’s always right, but I understood where she was coming from and her journey drew me in.

With magic in the air and a curse hanging over their heads, Clem’s story was a beautiful one filled with love, self-reflection and plenty of intrigue. I definitely recommend you look out for this book!

Overall Recommendation:

Dreams Lie Beneath is a solid standalone fantasy that follows young magician Clementine who is tasked to fight nightmares, as the consequence of a curse, that come alive every new moon. When unexpected events turned her life upside down, she plots to take back what she’s owed, but unwittingly starts falling for one of the magicians who may not be as bad as she thought. The curse breaking was another exciting element that gave a layer of intrigue as we follow Clem in decoding who the major players are for this task. So if you love a story with solid pacing, a sprinkle of mystery and plenty of slow burn enemies to lovers romance, my friend, this one is for YOU.

4 star, YA

Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Series: Kingdom of the Wicked #1

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe—witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin… desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked Princes of Hell that she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…



Equal parts tension-filled chemistry and terrifying mystery, Kingdom of the Wicked proves that Kerri Maniscalco is amazing at writing stories that have me on the edge of my seat! I loved her Stalking Jack the Ripper series and I knew whatever she wrote next would have big shoes to fill. But this has impressed me more than I had anticipated.

Set in a Sicilian landscape of an older time period, Emilia and her family run a restaurant together while secretly being witches among ordinary humans. She and her twin were always warned of dark magic and evil beings who’d try to lure their souls, but at some point, was there any grain of truth in these warnings or just childish stories meant to scare? Things change drastically when Vittoria, the wilder twin, is found dead by Emilia which sets her on this dangerous and reckless path of vengeance.

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