Book Reviews

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Book Review

“Some say patience is a virtue,” his voice echoed back to me. “Some deserve a punch in the face,” I muttered”.

JLA
Rating: 5/5 blood trees (stars)

Synopsis:

I’m just going to use the book’s synopsis because I will butcher it very badly and ramble (as you’ll see in the my thoughts section)…

A Betrayal… Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

My Thoughts *Contains mild spoilers*

To quote Casteer…I am unworthy. This book just took my breath away. The first book (From Blood and Ash) ended on such a cliffhanger, so I was very excited to pick this one up. I think this may be in my top 3 reads of 2020 (or ever). I’m going to attempt to organize my thoughts in a coherent manner, but I’m not making any promises.

First of all, I am so in love with Poppy and Casteel. The way they communicate with one another is so entertaining and I can’t get enough of it. I also really love the strangers-friends-lovers-enemies-frenemies thing they have going on. The character building from Poppy and Hawke is phenomenal. We were able to see the many masks that Prince Casteel wears and each of them are so different; some are sexy (okay he’s just sexy), enticing, heartbreaking…you name it and he wears a mask for it! Then there’s feisty, funny Kiernan. I love him so much and would not object to a Joining scene in upcoming books…just saying. His relationship with Cas and how he treats Poppy is wonderful, and you can tell he is genuine and truly cares. He’s not necessarily a main character, but he plays such an important part in their friendship that he’s easily a favorite. I did miss Tawny a lot in this book. I hope that we see her in book three (whenever that comes out…soon I hope). Alastir rubs me the wrong way. I am not a fan of him…something just isn’t right and I don’t trust him at all. The wolven are also a favorite of mine. I think they’re fascinating, as is their history, and I really like the scenes where they interact with Poppy and Cas.

There is A LOT of history in this book, learning about the past of the different bloodlines and creatures in this world. However, JLA executed the information in such a way, that I didn’t feel overwhelmed with details and knowledge. It didn’t feel like the beginning of Crescent City, for example, with a huge information dump (I still love CC, don’t get me wrong). Did I remember everything, of course not, but JLA had refreshers thrown in there throughout the story that reminded Poppy and the readers! I was engrossed in the history of Atlantia, the Ascended, the Craven, Wolven, and all the other unique things this world brings.

The plot of this book was so engaging. I couldn’t put the book down (unless I had to tend to some stupid responsibilities or something) and wanted to read and read and read! The conflict between Poppy and Casteel was something that really built the foundation of the book, and I don’t just mean the sexual tension between them. The internal conflict in Poppy about loving Casteel even though he lied (a lot) was done so well, that I started feeling those things. This book elicited a lot of emotions from me because of how Poppy told the story. I was angry with her, sad when she was, intrigued at certain times, and so on. So, kudos for the great writing JLA!

So in my review of FBAA, I talked about the one sex scene that really drew my attention. Well, there are A LOT more in this book and they are fantastic. I could read a whole book just about Poppy and Casteel getting it on, as Poppy threatens to stab Cas and he calls her Princess. Again, the complicated “pretend” relationship they have with one another really plays into the chemistry they have together. That with how JLA writes…*chef kiss*. Also, can we PLEASE have them re-enact some scenes from Miss Willa’s Diary in the next book?

I had a lot of questions entering this book and I was expecting some closure with them…instead I was left with A LOT more questions. I thought by the end of this book, we’d be in contact with Casteel’s brother and have some answers there…nope! Now I need to know where he and Ian are, who Poppy keeps hearing in her nightmares, why the wolven get shocked when they first touch her, what the hell was going on at the end, and so many more. Now I don’t know if book 3 will answer any because book 2 ended on another damn cliffhanger! I’m noticing a theme here JLA! The book 1 cliffhanger was okay because I read it three days before book two came out. But, now I read book two and have no clue when book three is going to come out! I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!!!!!

I’m rambling now…so, overall, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I am so glad that I read the first one and I cannot wait for more. I hope we see more of the sassy and sexy relationship between Poppy and Casteel, as well as more from Kiernan and the wolven! I will definitely be rereading these books. Look out ACOTAR series…you have a rival! (jk I still love you Rhysand, but Hawke just hits different…guess I’ll have two book boyfriends).

I’ll just be twiddling my thumbs until someone finds out when a third book will be coming out!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do so! If you love fantasy, romance, and some well written smut, this is the series for you!

Book Reviews

From Blood and Ash Book Review

“Fear and bravery are often one and the same. It either makes you a warrior or a coward. The only difference is the person it resides inside.”

Jennifer Armentrout
4/5 Daggers (stars)

Synopsis

Poppy has grown up belonging to everyone but herself. She was raised as the Maiden, which translates to having absolutely no freedom. She can’t speak to anyone, can’t be looked upon, can’t engage in activities, can’t do anything. Poppy is covered by a veil and sits quietly while she does as she’s told. As Poppy waits for her Ascension, she would much rather be defending people and daggering the Craven – a terrifying type of monster that destroys and kills…including having killed Poppy’s parents long ago. Then, one day, she gets a new guard and everything becomes beautifully confusing. Poppy wants less to do with her Ascension and more to do with living the life that was stolen from her. As Poppy struggles with following her heart, an old and fallen kingdom is beginning to rise and rebel. Lives are in danger, including Poppy’s. She can either fight or she can remain the perfect, pure maiden…what will she choose?

My Thoughts

This was the first Jennifer Armentrout book that I picked up. I ended up using this book as my ‘reading before bed’ book, so it took me longer to read than normal. I first saw this book on TikTok when someone said that it was more steamy than ACOMAF. I was intrigued but didn’t want to add another book to my collection just yet. Then, someone I follow on twitter was raving about this book so I decided to download the kindle version. Since I hadn’t read this author before, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. The first chunk of the book dragged for me. I enjoyed what I was reading, but it felt slow for me. Although…I then simultaneously decided to read the book Forever With You, by JLA as well! I loved that book so I continued trucking through this one, and I’m glad I did!

Let’s start with Poppy…I LOVE her!!!!!! What a strong character. This poor girl is put through HELL, but she entertains herself and breaks some rules, too! I love a good badass, and Poppy is definitely that! Reading about how she was forced to live her life was so unsettling and upsetting, especially her lessons with the Lord and Duke. I don’t know how she didn’t lose her mind with all the rules she had to follow…I wouldn’t have lasted 18 years. Then, there’s Viktor whom I also love. He helped Poppy see a little bit of life by training her to use a dagger and defend herself. He saw behind her veil and knew Poppy as a daughter. I also enjoyed Tawny’s character and how she was so much more than Poppy’s handmaid. They cared for each other and Tawny saw Poppy as a person and a friend, not just the Maiden.

Then, there’s Hawke. We meet Hawke early on in the book, then he disappears, and then he returns. I loved him the moment I met him. Then I fell even more in love with him…then I hated his guts…then I loved him…then I hated him…it’s a love/hate roller coaster. I picture him distinctly in my mind but I can’t put into writing how I imagine him. The way he and Poppy talk to one another is my favorite and I love them so much (I’m saying that a lot). But then, JLA throws a wrench in things and my heart is very, very confused. However, I finished this book and NEEDED the second book ASAP. Luckily, I chose a great time to finish this book because the new one came out today (Sept. 1).

Now, I’m going to move onto the writing. I like JLA’s writing style. But, like I said before, this book took a while for me to get into. I don’t think it was the writing that bored me, but the plot and learning the back story and piecing together what was holding me back. However, I soon wrapped my mind around the story and ended up loving it in the end. Once it got going, it sure took off! Some of the semantics of the setting and Lords/Ladies/Duke/Duchesses were confusing and I didn’t love them. Although, I do see how they add to Poppy’s backstory and the plot of the book. As for Fantasy, this book has some great creatures (the craven, Atlantians, Vampyrs, Wolven, and giant rat monster things). Honestly, I would have loved to see more of the Craven and the blood forest. We see more of the wolven in the last chunk of the book, but I liked them and am excited to (hopefully) see more in book 2.

Holy plot twist. I 100% did not see that coming until it was right under my nose. Maybe I was blinded by love, but that was an SJM twist if I ever did see one! Again, playing with my emotions in books is something I rank highly…it means I’m invested.

I do have to say that this book may house my favorite ever sex scene that I’ve read. This book didn’t have a lot of sex in it, maybe three scenes tops (toward the end of the book too), but there was a lot of sexual tension! I’ve read quite a few smut books in my days, including books that aren’t romance but have sex in them, but this one just did something to me (TMI maybe?). ACOMAF for example, has a handful of sex in it. Love the book, love the romance, chapter 55 amiright? But this books second big sex scene, in the closing chapters of the book, was just something utterly raw and carnal and beautiful. So, congrats on JLA for writing a filthy, wonderful sex scene into this book and making me love those few pages more than anything ever. The atmosphere and events surrounding the scene had a lot to do with the portrayal of emotions, too. It didn’t just happen and it wasn’t an “omg I love you, so show me” scene. It was unexpected and powerful…for me anyway. It will definitely stick in my mind until I read something equivalent or better (as if).

Overall, I am so happy I stuck it out with this book. I cannot wait to read the new one (it should be here in physical form by Friday…ugh) and see where the story goes. I also bought a handful of JLA’s books based on how much I liked the two I’ve read this month. Hopefully they’re just as good! Hawke has been added to my book boyfriend list and may be second under High Lord Rhysand. Just saying.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this book. Leave me some comments if you’ve read this! I love a good discussion!