ARC Review – Air and Ash by Alex Lidell


After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission—and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

AIR AND ASH is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series.  

Price: $3.99  Pre-order: $0.99


From the moment I finished the prequel novella (go read this book right now for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited. That is an order, not a request), I needed to get my hands on this book. I was stuck in a major reading rut and this and my reread of the ACOTAR series by Sarah J Maas are the only books I’ve been able to read with ease for the past few months! Lidell has a writing style that I very much enjoy, and she weaves a fun and heart pounding tale in this first installment of the Tides series. I imagine my appreciation of her characters and writing stems from our common admiration of Tamora Pierce.

Nile is not your typical princess and I loved her character. She was well balanced and flawed. Incredibly realistic. The other characters too, were lovable or loathable (respective to what they were intended to be), but all felt natural and not exaggerated.

The world building is so subtle yet feels so thorough and not overbearing. Over all I was incredibly impressed with the level of detail in the scenes at sea, which account for most of the book’s setting. The romance is a slow burn and feels entirely realistic.

This book lost a star for me because the ending was a bit lackluster for me. But it does set up for book two very well, so I can’t complain too much. I cannot wait to get my hands on that one when it eventually releases, to rejoin Nile on her quest!

If you’re looking for a sea-faring fantasy read, with an amazing line up of characters, pick this one up!

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While you’re at it, click the image above to enter this fantastic SJM GIVEAWAY!

Alex Lidell

Alex Lidell is the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books. Alex is represented by Leigh Feldman of Leigh Feldman Literary. She lives in Washington, DC.

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New release: A Bond of Venom and Magic


An action packed fantasy adventure with phenomenal world building.

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, tonight or any night, queen or no queen.”

Summary (from

“The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.
For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Goddess and the Guardians.”

I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Karen Tomlinson’s A Bond of Venom and Magic, which released October 14th, 2016.

Lately I have not had much luck with indie books, but you can tell that Karen Tomlinson has put in the work to make A Bond of Venom and Magic one of the most well-polished indie novels I have read since Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series. Tomlinson is a true wordsmith, and has created an enthralling world that I was sucked into from the first chapter.

The characters in ABOVAM are great as well. Diamond (while occasionally frustrating as hell… but for a good reason), was completely refreshing as a main character.

She’s not confident.

She’s not snarky and witty.

She’s a young, terrified halfblood fae with a gentle heart, who is prone to panic attacks, and has been ripped from the quiet life she has always known. As much as I like swagger and snark in my MC’s, it was refreshing to read something different for a change. Diamond is a character that is relatable on many levels, and her character development was a treat to follow through ABOVAM.

Hugo, however, really frustrated me. And I understand why he had to make the decisions he made, but gods above, I really want to just smack him. I wish Diamond could just say “So long sucker!” And high tail it out of Valentia and away from the crazy fae Queen! But she can’t ( for reasons) so I will leave that be for now.

The world of Avalonia that Tomlinson has created is amazing. Her world building is so vibrant and there are so many layers of it that I was just completely in love. I am a sucker for good world building, and I’m about ready to just pack my bags and start exploring – though to be honest the seekers and dragons/guardians sound bit terrifying. So maybe I’ll just stay home.

This book is incredibly fast paced, and one of my only complaints is that it was at times too fast paced for me. There was so much action that I occasionally found myself just wishing that things could settle down for just a moment for Diamond and her friends. I think perhaps slowing it down a bit could have allowed me to get to know some characters better, like Tom and Jack. I really wanted to get to know Jack better *winks*.

To wrap this up, if you like high fantasy novels, action packed adventure, and bomb-ass world building, then be sure to pick up A Bond of Venom and Magic. 

About the Author:

Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic was released October 14th  2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.