In doing genre research, a friend suggested Pistol Daisy as a potential comp title for Guns & Smoke, so you know I just had to go for it!

My biggest surprise was how short this story was. When I received my paperback, I was shocked that it wasn't a full length novel. I put off reading for a bit because of this, but I needed a bit of a lighter read, so I decided to jump in. I finished it in basically two sittings.


Pistol Daisy is a western novel. The main character, Daisy, experiences a great loss from the beginning. She survives with two things: her life and the name of the man who killed her family. Vowing for vengeance, Daisy finds herself in a ragtag band of Outlaws and comes across other pieces of the web woven in with her own story.


While I absolutely did enjoy this story, there really wasn't romance. There were hints of it, but only small glimpses and things that might have been.


The story ended on a hopeful note, but it didn't deliver on the initial goal: to take out the man who murdered her family.


All in all, I thought it was far too short, but I understand why. I feel like Leigh is angling for a large volume of books in this world, which I can't say I'm mad about. I look forward to the next novel and seeing if Daisy gets any closer to the revenge she seeks!


Abbie

  • Abbie Smith

This is the follow up to Dust and Shadow. I was stoked to get my hands on this one!

In Earth and Ember, we return to Sagebrush. The official story begins roughly two weeks after the ending of Dust and Shadow, and let me tell you, it's action from start to finish.


Readers are introduced to Kaia, what the residents of Sagebrush would call a drifter. She is a descendant of the remaining native americans in the area, poised to become their etsi, which is a leader amongst the unified tribes that first went to the mountains at the same time as the shift.


Whereas the residents in Sagebrush are losing access to water, those who live in the mountains have plenty of water, but not nearly enough food. There's been a war between the two peoples.


The story opens with a couple of flashbacks. One, to the death of Kaia's father. The second, is to the two drifters Jo saw in Dust and Shadow, and the men that killed them.


Since Jo and Clayton have taken over Sagebrush's leadership, they're determined to reach out to the drifters and sue for peace. So they send Luke, one of the men that killed the drifters in book one.


I adored Kaia's voice. To see someone coming into adulthood, having to face the expectations of everyone around them, and embracing them instead of shirking them off was a refreshing way to see a female main characters arc.


Pair her with the animosity between her people and those in Sagebrush, when she comes across Luke, she vows to hate him forever.... until she doesn't.


Earth and Ember expanded on the world Pogue built in Dust and Shadow. It was exciting, the romance was enticing, and I can't wait to check out the next one: Tide and Tempest!


Abbie


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