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Title: Kagen the Damned

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin


Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the place guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of his enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world―returns in strange and terrifying ways. Fueled by Rage To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire. Kings and gods will fear him. Kagen the Damned

Review: This is a review for an ARC I received from the publisher.

Plot: What a ride! Kagen the Damned deserves high marks for an epic adult fantasy. I couldn’t put it down. The engaging plot and unpredictable twists kept me turning the pages. Author Maberry, a well-seasoned author, knows how to weave a colorful tale of vengeance and betrayal. Kagen’s story is brutal, graphic, heartbreaking, and devastating. The vivid descriptions will make you cringe and detest the Witch King as much as the captain of the palace guard does. Each chapter, each character’s point of view, added so much depth to the story. The pacing was fantastic. At times, I found the world building a bit confusing. Modern day terms and references slipped into the dialogue and plot. Perhaps the answer will reveal itself in the next installment.

Characters: The Witch King is definitely the most vicious being I have ever crossed in literature. His cruel actions knotted my stomach, and his sorceress, who dabbles in necromancy, scared the heck out of me. Kagen is the morally grey character you constantly cheer for and Tuke is the friend we all need in our lives.

Writing: Author Mayberry has perfected the ability to reel the reader into a new world. From chapter one, I was hooked. No, the text was not without its faults, but the non-stop drama helped me overlook little speed bumps I encountered here and there. Epic fantasy usually intimidates me. Luckily, Kagen the Damned eases the reader into a complex world.

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the sequel. Book one leaves you on a huge cliffhanger. I need book two…now. This is an excellent starter for those who are looking to branch out into epic adult fantasy.

Triggers/Warnings: graphic violence, adult language, adult content,

Plot: 4/5

Pacing: 5/5

Escapism Factor: 4/5

Emotional Connection: 4/5

Character Development: 4/5

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: November 2021

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Title: The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lyn Barnes

Publisher: Little Brown Books


Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive. Review: This is a review for The Inheritance Games audiobook.

Plot: The first few chapters of this young adult novel really drew me into the story, but once Avery arrived at Hawthorne House, the plot stalled. I love a good puzzle and enjoy shuffling the pieces with fictional characters. Unfortunately, The Inheritance Games bored the heck out of me. One of the two “big” reveals felt rather silly. Tobias Hawthorne’s little game lacked maturity and intrigue for such a distinguished entrepreneur. I kept saying “Really? Really Tobias? That’s the reason for the game?” The final and biggest reveal was incredibly predictable and left me unsatisfied.

Characters: The Hawthorne boys never held my attention. I’m not sure if it was the narrator’s annoying southern drawl she used for Grayson, Jameson, Nash, and Alexander or their mannerisms, but in my humble opinion, they all fell flat. As for Avery, the protagonist, she hit every mark for the unremarkable teenage girl in young adult fiction who gets thrown into a new environment, struggles to fit in, gets a glow up, then attracts the attention of multiple boys. The side characters piqued my interest, but not enough to make up for the slow paced plot.

Writing: Author Jennifer Lynn Barnes created a casual mystery for young readers. Technically, I found nothing wrong with her writing. My only complaint is the story itself or the lack thereof. Her descriptions painted a simple picture of the characters and setting. Hawthorne House got the most attention, which I found entertaining, but as a fellow Texan, I struggled to identify the exact location in the Lone Star state. One minute the characters were in a vast forest, the next they’re near the ocean. The dialogue between characters flowed naturally, and only a few overused words snagged my attention.

Final Thoughts: Because my reader taste has matured, I doubt I will continue this trilogy. I need more grit and intensity from both the plot and characters. I would recommend this book to young readers who enjoy contemporary YA novels.

Triggers/Warnings: none

Plot: 3/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 2/5

Character Development: 3/5

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: November 2021

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Title: The Aeon Chronicles IV

Author: April Woodard

Publisher: Distant World Press


Aven Crey is in hell, doomed to repeat his past mistakes. With Nehia, his demon, taunting him at every turn, he can’t escape his damnation. Not unless Claire comes to save him. But Claire is in her own torment in an underground bunker. There’s no forgiving Will for leaving Aven to die. As she plans her escape from the nano-numbed super-soldier, Aalok readies his army for the final war.

It all ends here in the last installment of The Aeon Chronicles. Find out who will be crowned victor and who will be blotted out of existence forever.


I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. The Aeon Chronicles IV is the last installment in The Aeon Chronicles by April Woodard. The series conclusion leaves the reader satisfied. Author Woodard answers all burning questions and gives her characters their well-deserved endings.

I enjoyed the quick pacing, the steamy bedroom scenes, and the Alice and Wonderland references-cue Nehia. Aven will always be my favorite character, and peering into his early life only enhanced my connection to the morally grey dark haired man. His life review gave me the same spooky feels as A Christmas Carol.

I appreciated Claire’s growth in this installment, but Will’s character fell a little flat. I’ve always struggled to connect with the guardian. I wanted to love him. Unfortunately, I only ever "liked" him.

I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, so you’ll just have to add it to your to be read pile. This is a book for those who love angels and demons, morally grey characters, speculative fiction, Christian references, and romance.

Triggers/Warnings: violence, adult content

Plot: 4/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 4/5

Emotional Connection: 4/5

Character Development: 4/5

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: October 2021

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