• Abbie Smith

The From Blood and Ash series has taken the literary world by storm. I first came across this series on BookTok about a year ago, and, since then, JLA has published three additional books in the series, and the first in a prequel series.

At the end of The Crown of Gilded Bones, our favorite lovers, Casteel and Poppy, are separated by the woman who birthed Poppy!

I'm going to be honest, one gripe that I have about this series is how overcomplicated everything has gotten. I will keep reading it until the story is over, but I feel like I should point this out now before I go any further.

That being said, this was probably my favorite in the series so far. Not because of the heat or the romance, but because of the world. In this book, the characters are literally going to war. They're trying to take down the blood queen, while saving each others lives, and, oh yeah, the king is a prisoner, so we gotta save him too.

This book was different in that there wasn't a sex scene every other chapter, and let me say, sometimes, I get exhausted from the heat in these novels. It feels like the same thing over and over again, and while I read it because I enjoy the story and the characters, it was refreshing to have at least half the book where that wasn't a thing. So that when the characters did finally reunite, the steam was well earned.

One of my favorite parts of this book is seeing Poppy as she comes into her own as queen. She's devastated that Casteel has been taken, but there's more at stake than just the man she loves. Seeing her balance the need to save him alongside moving forward in the war and bonding with those around her was incredible. I especially loved seeing the growth in her friendship with Kieran.

Now. I must address the controversy. I'd heard from the time TWOTQ came out that there was some giant issue with the novel. I couldn't understand why. I had a feeling it had to do with the Joining (where Poppy would bind not only Casteel's life to hers, but Kierans).

First: the Joining has been foreshadowed for three books.

Second: If you didn't think it would happen, you obviously haven't been paying attention.

Third: there is absolutely nothing wrong with how JLA wrote it. The Joining itself was less detailed than your average sex scene in a JLA book.

I was shocked to see all of the controversy was because she did include the Joining. Angry readers attributed it to JLA wanting to "please her FB moms" in her FB group, but come on. She's been building to this point.

Quite frankly, if I didn't get the Joining in this one, I was going to be mad. Because we got TEASED by Sarah J Maas that there would be a threesome scene in ACOSF and it DIDN'T happen.

All that said, the Joining was incredibly tasteful. JLA didn't harp on which body parts go where but rather the emotional connection between the three of them. This isn't to say that they're a throuple or that Kieran and Poppy will ever even have anything aside from the Joining. I thought it was beautifully written.

Honestly, anyone who's mad about it surely hasn't been paying attention.

Being an author is hard, y'all. You won't please everyone.


  • Abbie Smith

I read The High Mountain Court last year, and I was super excited when I found out the sequel was already releasing.

To be honest, though, I read so much that I couldn't exactly remember what all happened in the first book. It took a minute for me to get my bearings and to understand that this novel was from the perspective of Remy's younger sister, Ruadora, or Rua.

One thing I think Mulford did a good job of was reminding the readers what happened in the prior book. Sequels are hard, y'all. You have to figure out what is okay to include and when it becomes too info dumpy, but I found that she gave just enough information to set up the characters.

I read a good part of this while I was still finishing House of Sky and Breath, so I didn't read a ton of the beginning in one chunk. Once I was able to sit down and focus on the story, however, it really picked up.

I adore authors that can blend multiple races of magic into one. It's a challenge, of course, but Mulford managed to do it seamlessly. In Okrith, there are humans, but there are also witches and fae, and some that are crosses of any of those races.

The reader can tell how much of her heart was put into developing the world and the story. Whereas The High Mountain Court was about regaining the past, The Witches' Blade was about finding redemption after darkness. Rua's done some stuff she's not proud of. She was also raised in an emotionally repressive society, so she was never properly taught how to feel her emotions and process them. Conceal, don't feel, Elsa.

While I did enjoy the romance, I didn't feel terribly invested in it from the start. I thought there were a couple of missed opportunities by the author toward the middle of the novel, but by the end, I was totally on board. I wanted to fight beside Rua as they took down the bad guys that tortured and killed witches.

I think my favorite thing about this series is how much it relies on the found family trope. That one is near and dear to my heart. I truly believe that friends are the family you choose.

I would highly recommend this one if you're looking for a new romantasy series, but definitely start with The High Mountain Court.


Yall. I am obsessed with this author. I'm only slightly ashamed of how much I love her writing. To the point that I placed an order at her local indie bookstore so I could get copies of all three of her currently published works.

I've previously reviewed the first two novels in this series: Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon.

Alexandria Bellefleur writes fun, flirty, contemporary queer romance. I knew based on prior readings that I'd love this novel. I've also been in a big second chance romance mood lately, so this was published at exactly the right time.

Margot, the best friend of Elle from Written in the Stars, suddenly finds herself without a roommate and the fifth wheel at every gathering. Her closest friends have all paired up. Annie and Brendan, the characters in Hang the Moon, are about to get married. When they meet with the wedding planner, Margot is equally horrified and delighted to learn that it's Olivia, her once flame and former best friend from high school.

When Olivia is forced out of her apartment, Margot offers up the spare room in her place, and shenanigans ensue.

I could never imagine what living with someone that I'm super attracted to, not to mention having a past with.

One thing I've learned that Bellefleur loves doing is placing her characters in incredibly embarrassing situations. In Hang the Moon, Annie had to pee when they were stuck on top of a ferris wheel. In Count Your Lucky Stars, Margot is on her way to the bathroom to have a little personal time with her favorite vibrating toy when they bump into each other and Olivia's cat bites the vibrator after its dropped on the floor.

I love authors that don't stray away from the cringe. It was such a hilarious moment.

I really, truly adore Bellefleur's writing, and I cannot wait until her next novel releases. If you're looking for heartwarming, funny, queer contemporary romance, definitely check out her work. I promise, you won't be disappointed!