The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers


5 Star Reviews

Review: Iron and Magic (Iron Covenant 1) by Ilona Andrews


Thank you to Netgalley for giving me an advance copy.

I so loved this book. It’s been a while since I last stayed up late because I couldn’t put a book down. We were promised Hugh’s redemption story and that’s exactly what we got.This story starts off somewhere after Magic Binds (book 9). This is about Hugh (villain in the previous books) finding a home and taking a stand. Hugh enters into an arranged marriage in order to get shelter and food for his people. In return he has to provide protection for his new bride, Elara and her people. There is a lot of violence and magic and sex, which is to be expected for a book about Hugh. The authors did not pull back and I loved every bit of it.

Here are some of my spoilery thoughts, read at your own peril:


1. That horse is a unicorn!

2. I am Filipino, and it made me super happy to see a Filipino creature featured in one of my favorite book series. It felt like receiving an unexpected gift out of nowhere.

3. Elara is a well developed character, but Hugh definitely takes the spotlight and outshines her in every page. The authors kind of kept a lot of Elara’s past a mystery, we have a few hints here and there but not enough for me to love her as much as I love Hugh’s character.

4. Hugh is his usual arrogant, manipulative self. The dialogue between him and Elara are a joy to read. He has met his match. Elara is just as manipulative and secretive. The sex is hooooot.

5. I liked the dynamic between the Iron Dogs. Bale and Lamar bickered like an old married couple.

6. That scene between Hugh and Raphael making peace over Aunt B’s death was just… I have no words.

7. Hugh’s fight scenes were really really good. They’ll keep you on the edge, just like Kate. 

8. Hugh gives out some of the best lines ever. That part when he tells Roland, “You’ll never get your hands on Kate’s kid. I’ll kill you first” was the ultimate best. Uncle of the year. It completely sealed the deal and made me wish for Kate and Hugh’s reunion. 

9. Yes, Hugh should’ve played the brother card with Kate. I look forward to seeing him do that in the next book.

10. I wish Hugh and Elara would adopt Deirdre in the future books.
Having read this book, I can definitely say that the authors have managed to achieve their goal in making us forgive Hugh. I can’t wait to read the final book in the Kate Daniels series.

Rating: 5 Stars +



My Robin Hobb Book Hangover


Where have the Robin Hobb books been all my life? I mean it’s crazy how good all her books are. It all started when I was bored and depressed and I needed something to cheer me up. So i re-read Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind series. There are two amazing books out right now and they’re not without flaws but I really love them both. So anyway I spent maybe a few weeks straight just reading my old favorites and then suddenly, I’ve finished. And I didn’t have anything to read next and then I was back to being sad and depressed.
So I went on reddit, looking for recommendations from people and Robin Hobb just came up consistently as the most recommended. So I decided to give it a shot. And it was amazing. I think I probably spent just 2 months reading everything Robin Hobb wrote. The Farseer Trilogy series just worked for me.
The characterization was amazing. Fitzchivalry was just so real that you know the author poured part of her soul just writing these books.
The Farseer trilogy is about a royal bastard turned royal assassin for the kingdom. There’s a lot of court intrigue, politics, fantastical elements like dragons and magical abilities. This book has got it all. I think the one thing that these books have that I rarely ever see in other fantasy books is the depth of characterization. The author really goes deep into the soul of the character. And once I was hooked, I just couldn’t look away. i was emotionally invested in the well-being of these characters.
I’ve noticed that I also have certain triggers that usually send me crying. I usually cry whenever I read a scene about a woman being beaten. It doesn’t have to be the main character, it can the heroine’s mother and I’ll still go into tears. These books didn’t really have any scenes that are like my usual tear triggers, but boy did each book in the series send me to tears. I cried the first time reading the series. The second time I read the books, I found some other scenes to cry about. It’s just that emotionally powerful. Robin Hobb is such a master.
The Farseer Trilogy is the first series of books about Fitzchivalry Farseer. It covers his life from childhood until he’s around age 20. The second series, the Tawny Man trilogy takes place when Fitz is 35 years old onwards. And the third series, Fitz and the Fool Trilogy takes place when Fitz is in his 60’s. Yes, we will be following the whole life of a book character and it’s so great.
Now in between these three trilogies are two spin off series. The Liveship Trilogy is really good too. It’s about a different set of characters and the adventure & fantasy elements were beautifully done. The Rain Wilds series, are another set of 4 books written in the same world.
And all of these books tie in together to make one big picture. All the books are lengthy, but in the best way. You really get to savor the beauty of these books. I literally lived for these books when I was reading them.
I have read all of the books more than twice now. And I’ll probably read them some more in the future.

Kulti by Mariana Zapata


Kulti by Mariana Zapata


“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn’t take a week for twenty-seven-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon—why she’d ever had his posters on her wall, or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man that hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive, shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know.

Or the murderous urges he brought out in her.

“Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.”

This was going to be the longest season of her life.


Wow. just wow. I read the Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata and I really liked the author’s brand of slow burn. It totally worked for me so I wanted more and so I read Kulti, which I liked even more.

I would say that Kulti is one of my favorite reads of the year. It sent me straight to book hangover wherein I just had to read the book over and over again for a whole week. It was that good. If you’re a fan of soccer and slow burn romances, this is definitely your read.
Sal plays professional soccer for women. And Kulti is a famous retired player, who is coaching Sal’s team for the season. The characters progress from ignoring each other, to being great friends to falling in love. To me, this story is perfect!
Rating: 5 stars!!!



The Epicness of the Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince Trilogy by C. S. Pacat


Genre: Fantasy, Romance, M/M


Okay everyone, the Captive Prince trilogy is the one and only M/M book that I have ever read and I loved it so much so you have to read it too. It’s set in a fantasy world with two warring Kingdoms. Damianos, the prince of Akielos is betrayed by someone close to him. He is turned into a slave and sent to the enemy kingdom (Vere) to become their slave. Since this is a book, Damen becomes a slave to Prince Laurent of Vere, whose brother Damen killed in battle. Laurent has sworn to have his revenge on Prince Damianos for killing his brother. So the enslaved Damen has to hide his identity from everyone, because once they find out that he’s actually a prince from another kingdom, he’s dead.

Since both kingdoms are at war and there are lots of internal politics going on, we see a lot, as in A LOT of political intrigue and such. My favorite kind of thing. Laurent is a brilliant strategist and tactician. He’s so fierce and smart. He can flay people just by speaking. Damen is a great war hero. He’s the one who fights well, and he’s a good leader on the battlefield. Each has his own strengths, and together they learn to outsmart their enemies and take back what is rightfully theirs.

There is so much going on in these books. The first book, Captive Prince, is all about Damen getting betrayed and enslaved. It is a dark book that contains a lot of violence and suffering on Damen’s part. In the second book, Prince’s Gambit, we see Damen and Laurent slowly get to know each other. This is where they start to help each other, form a strong bond, and develop complicated feelings for each other. Of course, at some point in the trilogy, the secret of Damen’s real identity will come out which promises all sorts of tension and drama. The third and final book, Kings Rising, was a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It was a perfect blend of warfare, romance and political intrigue.

Rating: 5 Stars


Read for Free on the Author’s Blog

Book 1 – Captive Prince

Book 2 – Prince’s Gambit

Book 3 – Kings Rising

Review: Land of the Beautiful Dead by R. Lee Smith

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror, Erotica 




He ascended from the darkness years ago—Azrael the Eternal, Azrael the Undying, Azrael Who Is Death—bringing with him the black rains, the fires, the souring of the sky, and the Eaters. Now he rules in the walled city of Haven with his favored Children and his dead court, while all that is left of the living struggles to survive in the ruins of a world that used to be their own. But even as extinction looms, humanity will never surrender to their monstrous conqueror.

For Lan, this brutal life has been the only one she’s ever known, but she still believes it can change. If the war can never truly end until the Eaters are ended, she will go to Haven, to Azrael himself, and demand he end them. To her surprise, she does not immediately die the hero’s death she expected. Instead, Azrael offers her a chance to convince him, and all she has to do is submit herself to the chill embrace of the lord of the Land of the Beautiful Dead.


When I heard that R. Lee Smith had a new book out, I just knew I had to stop everything and read it. And it was a very long, very satisfying read. I was totally obsessed. My eyes were tired, I knew it was unhealthy to stay up so late reading but I just couldn’t put it down.

The story is set in a post apocalyptic world. Azrael, the Lord of the Dead, has conquered the world. He has the power to control the dead, make them live again, or turn them into zombies called Eaters. He invaded England, and is enjoying his victory over mankind. Lan, a young woman born in a harsh world, decides to face Azrael to ask him to end the Eaters. She believes in peace and she wants to end the suffering.

And herein lies the dilemma. If Azrael ends the Eaters, which are what keeps the humans at bay, the humans will surely attack and there will be war and death all over again. But Lan is stubborn and she is not leaving until she gets what she wants. So Azrael decides to grant her an audience. She can plead her hopeless case again and again, in exchange for being his whore, courtesan, mistress, his dolly.

Azrael is not exactly human, think demonic, scarred human-like immortal creature. He has been betrayed, tortured, hunted down, burned, piked, anything you can think of, but he does not die. And humans, being really stupid kept on trying to destroy him and provoked a war. Azrael did not want a fight with the humans, but in order to have his peace, he was pushed into creating his dead army to protect himself. War became the only way he knew how to live.

Lan  has lived a harsh life. She was born in a post apocalyptic world. People who die turn into Eaters. There was no proper grieving for the dead. There was a lack of food, and she has had to sell pieces of herself to survive. Despite all this, she believes that if the Eaters just went away, the world could move on from the war. And she is willing to do anything to stop the Eaters.

The story is very raw, emotional and obsessive.  It was about humanity, death and love. It’s a character driven epic love story. And their love was so beautiful, unforgettable. The ending was one of the best endings I’ve ever read. I know on the surface it sounds really horrific, but trust me and give this book a chance.

It is even a bit more tame and less violent compared to the other novels by R. Lee Smith. So if you have never read anything by this author before, then this would be a good book to start with. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 5 Stars

LinksAmazon | Goodreads

Review: The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner


Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


“I can steal anything.” So declares Gen, the hero of the Newbery Honor Book The Thief—an exciting adventure fantasy set in a mythical land rich with intrigue. Gen’s bragging lands him in prison . . . but then the king’s magus needs the thief’s skill for a near-impossible task: to steal a priceless magical jewel from a faraway land. 


I’ve been hearing good things about this YA book series for ages now. For some reason, I put off reading these until one day, I just wasn’t in the mood for anything and nothing could cure me. And so I saw this while I was browsing through my kindle and decided to try it. And boy was it so good. It was like finding an unexpected hidden treasure.

This is the kind of book that you read, and you read and read, and do not stop reading until you reach the very end. It was that good for me. I had to stay up late just so I could finish the first book, and when I was done with the first, I wanted the second book immediately. And when I was done with the second, I read the third. And then third book was so good that I had to read it again one more time, before going to the fourth book. All this happened in a span of 2.5 days. I kid you not.

The story centers around Gen, a thief who can steal almost anything. He is smart, witty, and with a sense of humor. The story is rich with intrigue. I love how Gen becomes a big part of what happens between the different kingdoms of the fantasy world. I also loved all the politics and strategic maneuvering that went on. I also really liked the little mythical stories within the story.

I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy and character driven stories.

Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Reasons to Read: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Amazon | Goodreads

Genre: Fantasy


Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

Reasons to Read:

  • Kvothe (Our main guy) – is a well written character. You feel like you know him, you suffer with him, and celebrate victories with him. He’s also a very talented guy who can do wonderful magic, and play songs that bring people to tears
  • The Magic – I just loved the way Rothfuss created this world with the Magic, and how its laws are so similar to what we have here. Basically, they manipulate energy that connects everything in the world. It’s like a science
  • The Tales with the Tale– are so realistic, in the way that they’re not realistic. I mean they’re little stories within the story that just sound like real life classic fairy tales that are out in the world like Grimm or something. Maybe they are and Rothfuss is just messing with us.
  • The Story – Well of course, but among other intrigues, Kvothe wants revenge against the ones who wiped out his entire family. And boy is it a big mystery. Even the identity of the villain is clouded in a huge dark, and unidentified something. It is exciting
  • Un-putdownable – Despite the length of the book, I found myself spending every second of my free time reading this. And it was a long book, so the satisfaction was immense.

Now, as a final note, I know there are a lot of Romance readers out there. And maybe you’re like me, you mainly read anything that has Romance,  or Young Adult Fantasies with a romantic subplot, or maybe you’re just Harry Potter-grown. And for some unexplained reason, any mention of a high fantasy novel, written by one of those high level geeks, kind of turns you off. Because you might think that these male geek writers only know intricate plots, adventure, and lengthy descriptions of places & culture (boring!), and these guys don’t have what it takes to create certain depth of character and drama, such as the so many awesome Romance novels. Well, you are wrong to think that.  Because The Name of the Wind is one hell of a book. I am so glad that a friend pushed into reading this.

I have now re-read it maybe 10 times while searching for my next book fix.

Oh and one last thing, there is a little romance in this book, but that’s not why you should read it. There are so many other things going on that the romance is just the icing.

Rating: 10,000 Stars

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Amazon | Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I didn’t expect that Leigh Bardugo’s latest book would top the epic Shadow and Bone Trilogy, but boy was I wrong.

Six of Crows is set in the Grisha World, probably years after the events of the Shadow and Bone books. The story begins in Ketterdam, one of the countries beyond Ravka, where gangs rule, and grisha are considered servants or slaves.

Kaz Brekker is an unforgettable gangster. Hardened and ruthless, he is a mastermind manipulator, collector of secrets, and a genius trickster. I really enjoyed all the elaborate scheming and conniving that took place.

Kaz wanted revenge on the man who took everything away from him. But in order to do that, he needed take on the craziest, most dangerous heist he’s ever encountered, breaking a high security prisoner out from the Ice Court. Failure meant death. But success meant everything.

Accompanying Kaz on this crazy adventure, was Inej, also known as the Wraith, the best at sneaking and ferreting out the secrets of the rich. Nina, a grisha heartrender, who escaped from fjerdans only to spend her life trying to save one. Matthias, a conflicted fjerdan betrayed by a grisha, imprisoned and hungry for vengeance. Jesper, a gambling addict, sharpshooter with some secrets of his own. And Wylan, son of a merchant turned gangster member, and also there as leverage.

This story was full of twists and turns and the characters were always one step ahead in solving the puzzles. Each person in crew had a reason for taking on the crazy scheme. Up until the very end, i just wanted more of Kaz and his crew. There were also some lines in the dialogues that were just pure perfection. But I’m not quoting them here so that you get to feel the full punch when you read.

Highly recommended for fans of the Grisha Trilogy.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blog at

Up ↑

Typical Distractions

distracting the world one click at a time

Ana Spoke, author

It's time to get hella serious about writing!

the bookish khaleesi

Reviews, Tags, and a whole lot of Fangirling

My Midnight Musing

Living Between the Lines

%d bloggers like this: