Blood Numbers by CF Kreitzer Book Review

This book is a timely story about a dystopian society that is divided between Donors and Recipients. Aston lives in donor society where everyone is raised to one day donate their blood and to be judged by the number of antibodies they have. Recipients control all the money and resources and bids on the top donors. The recipients are sick from a illness that the donors are immune to. They need their blood to survive. Aston hates the idea of being forced to donate and being drugged into submission, even though she has higher numbers of antibodies than anyone has ever seen.

This futuristic story has a great and relatable protagonist and awesome connections to past. The secondary characters are well developed and the whole premise draws you into the story. The harsh world and moral questions that Aston faces feel real and complex. The choices that they make always come with a cost. The love triangle with Marcus, another donor who feels more alive to Aston than anyone she’s ever met, and Gannet, a kind but drugged donor technician, was meaningful to the story instead of just a gimmick to be done for YA books.

There’s great twists and turns in this story that keep the reader engaged. I can’t wait to read book 2!

If you are into dystopian societies that have meaningful love triangles and surprise twists, check out Blood Numbers!

Official Blurb:

There are only two kinds of people left on the earth: Donors and Recipients.

Sixteen-year-old Aston Vazeto hates the idea of selling her blood for money and is determined to be the first Donor in New World history to never donate.

But after a suspicious accident at her father’s power plant leaves her family diving deeper into poverty, Aston has no other choice except to enter the annual blood auctions, where Recipients bid on the richest blood. With the highest test results ever seen, Aston’s blood becomes the most sought-after in history, and will likely bring a large price at auctions.

Other Information:

Purchase a copy of Blood Numbers on Amazon.

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson Book Review

Mild Spoilers

In a dive into epic high fantasy, my husband and I finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War. I felt like this book has met my expectations for the fourth book in Brandon Sanderson’s series. I really wanted to see Kaladin’s arch resolve in this one, since it didn’t in the last one. I also enjoyed reading from Navani’s perspective and reading about her growth. I really didn’t want Dalinar to come in and save Navani when the tower is taken over by the enemy, and that didn’t happen. So that was super satisfying.

I was expecting a little bit more out of Shallan’s growth and for Adolin’s arch. In this book no victory comes without a cost or without qualifications, which is great. However, the qualifications tacked onto Shallan and Adolin, made their victories not as awesome as they could be, AND I was hoping to see their victory tie into some of what was going on at the tower more.

That being said, there was significant progress made there, so perhaps it is a minor nitpicking thing. Like I said, Kaladin and Navani’s archs were super satisfying. And the expansion of what is going on with the spren, including Dalinar’s pov, really added to that.

In this book, Brandon Sanderson expands his world to a cosmic level, not yet taking us off planet but discussing about how different worlds exist, that Wit is from a different planet (although that’s been suspected for a while) and that Odium has plans of cosmic proportions. I’m not quite sure, as a reader what I feel about this yet. I will have to wait to see how Brandon Sanderson builds it out from here, but a part of me was kind of sad. I liked the world and conflict on its own terms. I was ok with the humans coming from another planet to this one, but I was a little disappointed for the conflict to turn cosmic even though its been hinting at that since book 3. Whatever happens, I hope the main conflicts remains rooted in Roshar at least for the next book or two.

As always Brandon Sanderson’s world building is amazing if not a bit long winded at times in the description department. His character archs are awesome and the complexities he deals with are very well done. And even though his books are long, he does a great job of keeping your interest and building tension into a very satisfying resolution.

I keep using Brandon Sanderson’s stormlight archives books as examples in my writing group, even though I know I am the only one who has read all of them! Haha! Maybe because they are the only books I’ve been reading for a while, but I think there are writing concepts that he uses so well in his books that are demonstrative of certain writing aspects.

I look forward to reading book 5!

To check out more of Brandon Sanderson’s writing click Here.

Shifters and Secrets by RL Medina Book Review

This book was a fun story with a hard core latina female protagonist and some great complex side characters. The main character, Rose, has just lost her father and the beginning does a great job of drawing you into the story, and the complexities of the relationships within Rose’s family life. The cultural aspects of Rose’s life are weaved in expertly and add a refreshing feel to the genre.

The climax and the ending were action packed and exciting. The story line includes everything from a magic academy, and a mysterious backstory to witches, wereworlves, shifters and vampires. Rose is forced to attend the GRIMM academy against her will where she has to learn about how to defend earth from the ‘extraordinares’ who are magical creatures willing to attack humans. The book hints at a much expanded world with complex reasoning behind the current status quo where everything isn’t as good as it seems.

I really liked Javi and Grayson. I felt like they were well developed and complex side characters. Rose, I also liked although sometimes her attitude became a bit much. I’m hoping to see her really grow in the next book and hopefully do something badass. Like maybe save Grayson or something to justify her hard core attitude with some ability.

After the beginning, it felt like the pacing of the book slowed significantly. I would have preferred to be dropped into the setting and into the classes themselves so that I could really understand what it was like at GRIMM instead of being taken on a tour of the buildings and layout of the school.

This is a book with teens drinking, smoking and swearing. The romance is a slow burn which I liked, and starts out as a kind of a Pride and Prejudice feel. I’ll be interested to see how it develops in book 2.

This was a fun book! If you are looking for a book with an uncompromising protagonist, a magic academy, and a compellingly complex backstory, check out Shifters and Secrets by RL Medina!

Official Blurb:

Monsters. Magic. Family secrets.

After an attack by a shifter, Rose learns the truth of her parent’s past and her own dark destiny. She was promised to a notorious coven and now the witches are on the hunt. But they’re not the only ones laying claim to her. The only family she has left are GRIMMS—monster hunters—and they are determined to turn her into the perfect soldier.

Can Rose escape her fate or is already too late?

Shifters and Secrets is the first book of an upper YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal series set in the Inner World universe filled with lots of snark (sometimes swearing), all the supernatural and magical beings we love, and an enemies to lovers romance. 

Other Information:

You can purchase a copy of Shifters and Secrets at Amazon.

Follow RL Medina on her website, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Book Review Policy

**Book Review Requests Are Currently Closed Until October 2021 While I Process The Requests I Have Already Received** Thanks to all who submitted!

  • I review mainly YA fantasy/Sci-fi/dystopian novels (all subgenres included). I will also review MG and adult books in the same genres on occasion.
  • I review books that contain limited to no swearing, no erotic or sex scenes (off screen ok) and no gory descriptions of violence.
  • Although a rare occurrence when the above conditions are met, I reserve the right to not finish a book and not publish a review for any reason. I will contact you if your book has been previously selected and this happens.
  • I provide honest reviews that will include what I liked and did not like about a novel.
  • In order for your book to get noticed and a better chance at being selected, please provide the following information when submitting: Title of book, genre, a short blurb, link to your book/website, format the review copy will be available in (ebook or physical copy). In the subject line of your email, please put “Book Review Request.”
  • I will contact you via email if your book is selected to be reviewed. I leave reviews on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Send requests to jacurtisbooks@gmail.com
  • Check out the IndieView

Talismans by Lisa Lowell Book Review

Talismans is a clean adult high fantasy book that is the first in a series. Lisa Lowell back wrote her books to give the backstory to a lot of the characters from her earlier published books. This is the beginning of the story with Owailion and Raimi, who have been transported to the Land as adults without memories of their previous lives. The Land is being tended by dragons who, will soon go into a deep sleep and leave the Land to the humans. This Adam and Eve style story has explicit religious overtones and fun world building (literally) magic.

I really feel like Lisa Lowell did a great job of building her physical world. The descriptions were easy to picture and beautifully written, but not so overly done as to bog down the story. I was able to follow the location of things despite all the places (I am horrible at directions so this is saying a lot). I loved the dragons. They were fun and wise and added a distinct magical feel to the story.

I found the magic system to be a bit confusing since they seemed super powered, and then would randomly seem bound by rules. I would have liked a bit more foreshadowing of the rules of magic. Also, I was a little put off by the fact that Owailion would always dive into Raimi’s personal thoughts to figure out what was wrong with her without abandon, but I don’t remember Raimi ever once doing that to Owailion. It felt like a very one sided invasion of privacy in that sense.

I liked that Raimi came with insecurities that ended up playing into the themes of the overall story. It made the ending all the more poignant. Emotionally, I would have liked more of a balance between Raimi and Owailion to make them feel more equal. It was clear that Raimi had all the problems and Owailion was the man there to comfort and protect her. Although, this strangely served to make the ending a bit more satisfying.

The plot started out a bit slow, but the author notes this in her book description so that you are aware that is the case. It begins to pick up about halfway through, and gets more and more engaging from there. I feel like there were parts that were very cleverly done in how they find solutions to the ‘Name magic’ problems. (ie. using name magic to control people).

There were some grammatical mistakes. I am not one to notice a few grammatical mistakes, but there were enough in this book to trip me up a few times and have to stop and reread sentences.

As someone who is not a huge fan of fated stories, I found this one intriguing and well done. The dragons were fun, the climax intriguing, the ending poignant, and the descriptions beautiful. If you like religious based fantasy, then this would be a great book to check out!

Official Blub:

Rocked from his cave by explosions, Owailion emerges with profound amnesia and comes face to face with Mohan, an enormous, powerful dragon. Owailion becomes an apprentice to the dragons, gifted with magic and charged with protecting the land from destructive intruders. And he must do this alone. Soon, Owailion begins having mysterious visions – and discovers that the realm’s precious runestones have been stolen. The first of the Wise Ones novels, Talismans explores Owailion’s quest to recover the irreplaceable artifacts from demons and destroyers, as he learns that even limitless powers cannot change fate. Aided by a mysterious woman from his dreams and impeded by a deceitful sorcerer, will Owailion thwart the thief – and discover a way to bring the Wise Ones to power?

More Information:

Purchase a copy of Talismans Here.

*Available in Spanish

Listen to Talismans on Audible.

Follow Lisa Lowell at her websites: lisalowellbooks.com, magicintheland.com, https://magicinthelandlisalowell.wordpress.com

Robin’s Hood by Jacque Stevens Book Review

This is my first encounter with Jacque Stevens fairy tale retellings and I loved the story! This story is a gender-bent twist on the classic Robin Hood tale as Robin of Locksley has gone off to war and Marian is left at home to care for the estate and the nearby town. When Robin of Locksley fails to return from the crusades, the evil sheriff moves in and claims Marian’s land for himself, laying heavy burdens on the town in the form of taxes. To fight back, Marian dons Robin’s Hood and pretends to be Robin’s spirit come back from the dead.

I loved Marian and her willingness to help her people. This is a great story that is complex and deals with the gender roles of the period while at the same time presenting a heroine that is relatable and strong. I loved the gender-bent twist and the side characters were also very well done. These fun fairy tale retellings are a bit shorter and currently Robin’s Hood can be found only in the Enchanted Kingdom’s Anthology. Although I do believe Robin’s Hood will eventually be available for purchase on its own.

This review is only of Robin’s Hood and not the entire Enchanted Kingdom’s Anthology.

I can’t wait to find out what happens in book 2!

If you are into fun gender-bent fairy tale retellings with a relatable female protagonist, then check out Robin’s Hood by Jacque Stevens.

Official Blurb:

Who is the girl under Robin’s Hood?

Orphaned at five and widowed at sixteen, Marian is the sole heir of Locksley keep and the Earldom of Huntingdon. Her husband, Robin of Locksley, never returned from the crusades, leaving her at the mercy of the sheriff. He chooses her a new husband among his brutal lackeys and taxes her people to rags and starvation.

Marian is sidelined and powerless, but rumors spread of a charismatic thief who could change everything. Clever, brave, and strong, his followers claim that the hooded rogue is Robin’s spirit back from the grave.

Only Marian knows the truth. Her husband is dead, but under his hood, she could be invincible.

The King of Thieves is dead. Long live the Queen.

More Information:

Purchase a copy of the Enchanted Kingdom’s Anthology Here.

Follow Jacque Stevens on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, and Bookbub

It’s Here! Faerie Warriors Book 2 Cover Reveal AND Ebook Pre-Order!!!

A big thank you to Maria Spada at mariaspada.com for the amazing cover! I’m so excited to announce that Faerie Warriors Book 2, Rise of the Fomori is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Paperback and ebook will come out on May 30th! 

AND from today until Jan. 4th, Book 1, Lies of the Haven will be on sale for only 0.99! 

Check out both Book 1 and 2 of the Faerie Warriors Trilogy below!

Thanks so much for all your amazing support!

JA Curtis

Brothers at odds. One lost faerie to find. An enemy lurks in the shadows.
But not for long.


After saving her friends from death, Mina finds herself in charge of the faeries of the Haven. But the two faerie factions are still divided, and a lost faerie remains to be found.
Answers about their enemy are elusive. And with half the Haven burned to ash, and the faerie army reduced to a fraction of its former strength, Mina knows they aren’t ready for the attack that may come any day.

They must prepare. They must unite. Or risk being destroyed.

Still reeling from a devastating betrayal, Arius struggles to find his way. Realizing now what he should have known all along—that Mina is the one who will save them all—he is desperate to not lose her in the process.

Time is short. The enemy is making their move.

The Fomori are on the rise.

Fifteen-year-old Mina didn’t ask to become the center of a feud between two tattoo bearing, near immortal brothers and their faerie followers. Nor did she ask to be a faerie for that matter. On the night a dragon sends her grandmother’s home up in flames, everything changes.

Mina is stolen from her human home and forced into a life of lies, monsters, and magic. But as she searches for answers that might end the fighting between the faerie factions, she uncovers an enemy who threatens Mina’s very existence and the existence of those she loves.

Book 2 Cover Reveal Coming Soon!

Woohoo! Less than a week to go until the Faerie Warriors Book 2 cover reveal! Join me on my social media platforms @jacurtisbooks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here on my website to see the cover for Rise of the Fomori on Tuesday, December 29th! I am so excited!

Also, on December 29th, Rise of the Fomori ebook will be available for pre-order AND Faerie Warriors Book 1, Lies of the Haven ebook will be on sale for only $0.99!

Share with your friends with #FaerieWarriors! Can’t wait!

Get your free copy of Faerie Warriors Book 1, Lies of the Haven Today!

Great news! From Tuesday, November 24th through Saturday, November 28th you can get the Lies of the Haven ebook for free! Looking for a great read for over the holidays? Or perhaps a present for a loved one? Lies of the Haven is a great choice!

Get your free copy today! 

Fifteen-year-old Mina didn’t ask to become the center of a feud between two tattoo bearing, near immortal brothers and their faerie followers. Nor did she ask to be a faerie for that matter. On the night a dragon sends her grandmother’s home up in flames, everything changes.

Mina is stolen from her human home and forced into a life of lies, monsters, and magic. But as she searches for answers that might end the fighting between the faerie factions, she uncovers an enemy who threatens Mina’s very existence and the existence of those she loves.

Check out what people are saying about Lies of the Haven:

“This was such an excellent read! I felt so connected to the characters, and the plot had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.” -Amazon Review

“My teenage son was hogging the book so I bought a Kindle version just to finish it! I look forward to the rest of the series.” -Goodreads Review

“This was a whirlwind from beginning to end and so fun to read! There were unexpected surprises. It was a clean read that I would recommend to anyone. Can’t wait to read the next one!” -Amazon Review

“I have read a lot of YA fantasy lately and it’s all been pretty good, but this is easily one of the best YA fantasy debuts I’ve ever read.” -Goodreads Review

“This book sucked me in and I finished it in one day. I can’t wait for the next one!” -Barnes&Noble Review

-Get my free copy here.

Writing A Believable Villain

For this one, I am going to tell you some of the things I believe makes a good villain. Keep in mind, I am far from an expert on this so this is my own personal opinions. I think that, there are many different kinds of villains in fiction from enemies that are the epitome of evil (like Sauron from Lord of the Rings or Voldemort for most of Harry Potter) to more morally complex villains.

I personally like the more morally complex villains that aren’t the representation of the epitome of evil. Although you can do “the epitome of evil villain” well by having lesser more morally complex villains that serve the greater epitome of evil. (Think of the Malfoy’s in Harry Potter). That way you can tap into the best of both worlds.

While the motivations of why Nuada does what she does in Lies of the Haven are not fully explained, it is clear the only reason she is making the morally corrupt decisions she is making, is because she believes she has some justification for her actions. (In book 2, more of her motivations will be explained). 🙂

In order to make a morally complex villain, there has to be some aspect of their character that you as a reader can relate to on some level. We call this “petting the cat” (Note, this isn’t the same as “saving the cat” as explained in my last post). Your villain, though you don’t sympathize with them, should have some relatable aspect to them to show that they are still human. For example, if your villain has someone they care about or you see the villain petting a cat, that is something you can relate to in order to show they aren’t this evil cardboard cut out of evil. They have human aspects to them.

While the goal isn’t necessarily to get readers to sympathize with the villain, the goal is to cast some level of belief that this type of villain could actually exist and to cast moral complexity to the situation the hero/protagonist is dealing with.

I’m going to switch tracks here and talk briefly about villains vs. antagonists. In your book, your villain will usually be the main antagonist to the main character (aka protagonist). An antagonist is someone who stops the main character from reaching their goals and progressing. In Lies of the Haven, Nuada is the main antagonist/villain but her interactions with Mina are limited. So I threw in some side antagonists in the form of Arius and Thaya. While Arius in particular is not a villain, he is an antagonist, because he, intentionally or not, casts doubt on and impedes Mina from attaining her goals.

So you can have antagonists in your story that aren’t necessarily classified as a villain. The question becomes, what role does that particular character serve in the story?

I spoke in Writing Engaging Plot and Conflict of creating a flaw for your main character that they have to overcome by the end of the book. One way to drive home the importance of your main character overcoming their flaw is to show the villain NOT overcoming a similar or the same shortcoming, thus leading them to their downfall.

For example, in one of my favorite shows, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Prince Zuko, eventually learns the importance of love, friendship and support in his life. He learns this from his Uncle Iroh, and in the end, that important lesson allows him to recognize the dysfunction and abuse put upon him by his father, someone who was supposed to love and support him but didn’t. This allows Zuko to break from his father and the destiny that his father has forced upon him. Zuko then is free to embrace love and friendship from people he knows are willing to give it, and to determine his own destiny.

In contrast, his sister Azula, a villain, has the opportunity to show love and support for her friends Tai Li and Mai but instead uses fear and manipulation to get what she wants. And when that fear and manipulation fails to control people in the end, instead of learning her lesson, it drives her to greater distrust and emotional instability that leads to her defeat at the hands of Zuko and Katara.

These are just a few aspects that make a believable villain but by incorporating some of these aspects into your writing you will be on your way to creating a great villain!

Thanks again to Katelynn for the great question!