Cover Image: Savage City

Savage City

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Member Reviews

There was a lot of potential here, especially at the start. The beginning was very engaging and I found getting to know the world and its politics was exciting and kept me turning the page. However, I found my interest dropped off quite a lot after the middle of the book. The plot felt very contrived and solutions came way too easily towards the end of the book, I do not care for plots where there are little to no consequences. Overall, this book really wasn't my cup of tea though I thought it showed promise and potential.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

My actual star rating is 3.5! I have mixed feelings about this book. The world-building and magic systems in this were interesting enough that I wanted to learn more about them. But, the book only goes into a surface-level exposition of what the magic system in this world is like, and not too much beyond it. The part of the magic system that involves "animal-type daemons that are connected with people's souls" did give me pause. As the book first explained how daemons work, I thought, "This sounds a LOT like how the daemons in His Dark Materials work...", but beyond the daemons being animal-shaped and connected to the soul, there are little to no similarities. The main plotline of this book is actually a very popular and common plot trope in many manhwa series. The entire "I died in my world, but I woke up in this world, and they think I'm their princess!" is a SUPER common type of "isekai" manhwa. Even the trope of the main protagonist dying because they got hit by a car is an incredibly common opener to this type of story. I have read so many of that type of manhwa, but I honestly like the trope, so I don't mind reading more of the same. This plot was the same old, same old for me, but I feel like I don't see this plot trope in standard novels, so it would probably be "fresh and new" to those who don't read manhwa. The opening scene of this book is very abrupt and very confusing. I think it's meant to be that way? I still was sitting there like "What the hell is going on, did I skip or chapter or something?!" while reading through. The mentions of there being a multiverse or parallel worlds in this story were interesting, for what few of them there were. The romance between the two main characters was very "eh" in my opinion. The way they fell in love felt very sudden and almost out of the blue. I really didn't expect Ryin to suddenly act as if he was madly in love with Talia. I honestly was confused why he suddenly was acting so strongly towards her. Also, was the random sex scene really needed? It was so out of place and it honestly felt like it had been thrown in randomly. My personal pet peeve is a book adding random sex scenes for no real reason. There was a line that made me pause near the beginning of the book; it actually made me put the book down for a minute. <i>"My muscles are leaden and my blood has turned to wood."</i> I have heard "my blood turned to ice" or "my blood ran cold", but I have NEVER heard "my blood turned to wood". There were also scenes that didn't seem to flow all too well. It felt like they were written to be cliffhangers, but when you can just flip the page to find out what happens, the cliffhanger falls a bit flat. It also felt a little bit like the author had written themselves into a corner, and had to do one of those "AND SUDDENLY!" type of moments to get out of it. Thought that could have been because of the weird way some chapter ends felt like cliffhangers. The actual ending of the book (excluding the epilogue) I really didn't like. Others might like it, but it was way too bland yet cheesy for me. Very, the car driving off into the sky at the end of Grease. Also, with how the ending is written (again, ignoring the epilogue) it feels like the book was meant to be a single novel, not the beginning of a series. The epilogue feels a bit slapped on; like they scrambled to figure out how they could continue to another book. I really did like some of the concepts the author had, and they made a really interesting world, but the weak ending soured me a little to this book. I doubt I'll be looking for the next book in the series.
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Talia is propelled into a parallel world after dying while in ICU (she had been in a car accident). She discovers she's a doppelganger for the land's princess, Celena, and must behave as if she's only lost her memory (at the request of her stepbrother Shad). 

While the land looks like a post-apocalyptic San Francisco with magic powering it, it's also a land of tremendous division and inequality. The princess is part of a race of shapeshifters, the Nimali, who enslave the Fai. There's actually not that much difference between the two groups, except the Nimali transform into their animals, while the Fae are paired with a daemon who grants them a power.

She's thrilled when one of the Fai, she sees when she first arrives, Ryin, resembles a former neighbour from our Earth, whom she had had a crush on when younger. He's both disgusted by the Njmali and the princess, and fascinated by this version of the princess, as Talia is very different from the princess he's familiar with, who is cold, and comfortable with the enslavement and bigotry that upholds her life. 

Talia and Ryin become closer as it becomes clear that Talia is radically different from Celena, and Talia wants to change the situations for everyone, and help the Fai.

The world is interesting, with its shapeshifters, daemons, and conflicts. Talia's struggles in her new world and how she tackes things are believable, and Ryin's slow development of positive then romantic feelings for Talia is also believable.

I liked the ideas that the author is playing with, and it was interesting to see the new world through Talia’s eyes, as she comes from a place of neglect and racial injustice, then was pulled into a world where now she has tremendous privilege. 

Thank you to Netgalley and to Heartspell Media for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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A woman goes down the rabbit hole in this multiverse shifter romance. When Talia dies, she ends up in a parallel universe, where shifters battle the Fai over their different approaches to daimons and natural resources. It's a dystopian world post-climate meltdown. Beyond the shock of magic and decay, Talia struggles most with the social order of her new world, particularly the essentially enslaved Fai who are forced to serve shifters while part of their soul is captured, living in fear under the threat of losing their free will. It reminds her of the traumas inflicted on her enslaved ancestors. Talia's alternate self was a princess among shifters, and she is unwilling to stand by and let this subjugation persist as she sneaks into the role the princess left behind.

I would say that this story could be categorized as urban fantasy or paranormal romance with strong dystopian elements. However, despite the romance plot structure and tropes, the balance of the story is more skewed towards the fantasy elements than the romance. The commentary on resisting tyranny and on the importance of sustainability is excellent. The world-building is easy enough to grasp. The relationship I was most interested in was that of Talia and her father. She never forgets he is a tyrant on a throne made of bones, but the kingly version loves her in all the ways the cold, distant version of her own world did not. It makes for complicated feelings and difficult decisions. The love story is straightforward in contrast, relying on instalove more than anything else.

I think my biggest concern with this one is that the characters fell a bit flat. Talia has a Cinderella backstory (complete with drudgery and stepsisters) and the sparkly eye princess persona to match. Her love interest, Ryin, is a rebel fueled by justifiable anger. I didn't dislike either of them, but they just lacked a lot of dimension. This is a relatively fast read that adds some unique elements to the genre without becoming confusing. The romance follows a familiar trajectory but is relatively low steam and lightning quick. If that sounds up your alley, you should check it out!
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Talia died, and found herself in another dimension. In this new place, a barren land surrounds a ravaged city and  she is mistaken for a missing princess, thought dead, for Celena, the beloved daughter of a tyrant. A very different life to the one she left behind, here she is loved by her father, revered by her people and seen. But before she could even settle into the pretense of this missing princess, the dark underbelly of her new home reveals itself and she’s left wondering if she didn’t end up in hell after all. 

I loved: 
-the idea of bliss, the existence of the daemons, the multiverse
-how the fai were conservationalists, living in harmony with bliss,
-the nimali and fai conflict  

I disliked:
-the cover. 
-I didn’t find ryin and celena’s relationship very believable 
-the stakes were very high but while reading I never felt the urgency of them

All in all, I ended up enjoying this! It’s not a revolutionary addition to the genre, but it is fast paced and certainly had an intriguing world! I just feel like the premise was good, just that the execution let it down a bit.

Recommended if you’re looking for a light, low sci-fi read with scrimmages and people on opposite sides falling in love!
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I've been a long-time fan of this author's writing. I absolutely love her Earthsinger series and was excited to see what she wrote next. Although I have yet to read some of her earlier work, she has become an auto-read author for me.
This book is very different from her other series. This is a portal fantasy, and it uses the Multiverse. That concept doesn't always work for me, in this I felt that it worked quite well.

While I do like Talia as a character, I did feel at times, that she was a bit underdeveloped in some aspects. Finding out her background more than halfway into the book, at times made some things about her character come across as an afterthought. I typically enjoy being thrown into the story, I would have liked to see her in her day-to-day before she was forced into the other world. As would seeing what her doppelgänger princess, Celena, was like rather than hearing about it from other people. 

The other characters, Ryin, Shad, and Lyall the tyrannical king, in some ways, felt more developed than Talia at times. She is still a good character it just didn't really feel like her backstory was fleshed out as much as everybody else's. Perhaps in future books more of who she is will get fleshed out. 

I really liked the plot of this book, the idea of an alternate universe where people possess spirits of animals and magical creatures, who can either shift into that creature or just manifest the powers/abilities of that creature is really interesting. This was a solid start to a new series, and I am very interested in where things are headed. Especially with how this book ends.
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Savage City a two perspective fantasy romance story, with a bit of a sci-fi twist. The story is told from our hero and heroines POV.  

Talia is somehow brought to another version of our world when she dies. This new San Francisco is very different from our own. Magic is engrained into the technology and people of this world. Talia is thrown into a war between two groups of people, the shape shifting Nimali and the magic wielding Fai. 

Ryin is a Fai and slave to the Nimali. He wants nothing more than to free his people from the Nimali. 

The world building and magic system were really interesting, but the romance felt rushed and unbelievable. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the Savage City in exchange for my honest review.
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If L. Penelope writes it, I’ll read it! Savage City follows Talia, who after her untimely death finds herself in a strange city. There, Talia is a match for a missing princess and she must take on the princess’ identity for her own safety. With the help of the healer Ryin, Talia must learn to navigate the strange new world she has found herself in. However, not everyone believes that she is the princess, and if she is found out then she will face the wrath of the king. 

This was a solid start to the series, with lots of important world-building taking place. I love L. Penelope’s fantasy writing, which is always very vivid and satisfying.The story and romance was pretty fast-paced, but I enjoyed it. I’m curious to see where L. Penelope will take the series next! Savage City is available now. Thank you to L. Penelope, Heartspell Media, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5 stars

I loved the premise for this book - death doesn't send you to the afterlife, but instead to a parallel universe. That sounds like an amazing read but a terrifying reality for our main character, Talia. 

The book is fairly fast paced and very easy to fall into. I never really felt like the pacing was off or that it was up and down, which is important to me, as I can get distracted when a book seems to lull for a while after a lot of action. I loved the magic and I also loved the message this book sends. 

For a fantasy novel, Savage City is fairly short. But in my opinion, the author does a great job with the world building and helping the reader learn about Talia's new surroundings just as she is being forced to do the same. 

I liked this book a lot and will be keeping my eye out for the next in the series!

Thanks so much to the publisher, Heartspell Media, and to Netgalley for the advance copy of Savage City!
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This book truly delivered! I am a huge fan of portal fantasy, especially if romance elements are involved. This is a fast paced but digestible fantasy perfect for getting out of a reading slump or just wanting to read a fun book. I look forward to recommending this book for our collection.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 / 5

𝙎𝘼𝙑𝘼𝙂𝙀 𝘾𝙄𝙏𝙔 by L. Penelope
The Bliss Wars, #1
Sci-fi & Fantasy
281 pages



This story has it all!
•	royalty 👑
•	romance ❤️
•	forbidden love ❌
•	magic 🧙🏻‍♀️
•	shifters 
•	daimons
•	dragons (!!!!!) 🐉
•	flying 
•	multiverse 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎
•	danger, war, violence 🤺
•	slavery 
•	freedom fighters ☮️

I need to get my grubby paws on book 2 ASAP!!!

Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC ebook of Savage City.  This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For my full book review, please head over to my blog,
#leslyepenelope #authorsofinstagram #SavageCity #theblisswarsseries #justread #advancereadercopy #arcread #arcreview #arcreviewer #bookreview #bookreviews #bookreviewer #bookrecommendation #bookrecommendations #bookrec #bookstoread #newbook #fantasy #scifi #ireadfantasybooks #ilovefantasy #fantasybookseries #readersofig #bookstagram #booklover #bookreader #readeveryday #readingismyescape #sareader
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4.5 stars for sure!! I really liked this book! I think its missing a few more pages for it to be complete and the beginning is a little dull, I was halfway through the book and almost left it unfinished but kept reading out of pure curiosity and ended up loving it!  The epilogue was the perfect start for a very entertaining series! I can’t wait to see how the story evolves!
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At the beginning of Savage City, Talia dies. As she dies, she finds herself being pulled somewhere, where she almost dies again. Talia has been brought from one parallel universe to another.

Very quickly we learn that the world Talia finds herself in is brutal. It kind of looks like San Francisco, Talia’s home, but not really. There’s a brutal war between the shape-shifting Nimali and the Fai, who have abilities, but don’t shift. Talia looks like the missing daughter of the Nimali King, Princess Celena. The Nimali King, Lyal, looks like her father, a man who raised her reluctantly and without enthusiasm. Talia is thrown into the middle of a story that she doesn’t understand. It is familiar and unfamiliar and all very deadly.

Talia is clued in to the wrongness of the world when she finds out that some of the people around her are slaves. When she meets Lyal we see part of what will drive Talia’s conflict. A man who looks like her father is happy to see her and embraces her with love – the one thing she always wanted and never got. And then he forces a woman to commit an act of brutality and consigns her to the wastelands for doing what he forced her to do. Talia is understandably terrified and we, the readers, know she is in grave danger.

Savage City is the first in a series and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. So much of what I want to talk about is best discovered in reading and not from a review. I will say two things about this alternate universe fantasy. One, the underlying conflict is between a society built around extraction and society built around conservation. The other is that I have never liked the fated mates trope, but L. Penelope uses a variation on it incredibly well. And a third thing – there are dragons.

It is a brutal read with a constant threat of violence, and a lot of on-page violence. L. Penelope has a firm hand on material that could go sideways badly in the wrong hands. Her depictions of brutality and humanity are visceral and kept me on the knife edge every time I picked up the book. 

I received this as an advance reader copy from Heartspell Media via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
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Title:  Savage City 
Author:  L. Penelope 
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

For Talia, death is only the beginning of survival...

When a tragic accident cuts my lonely life short, instead of heaven or hell, I’m stolen away to a terrifying city of warring shifter clans—the Nimali and the Fai. The Nimali mistake me for their missing princess. Her father, the dragon king, is identical to my own. But in this world, he dotes on me with the love and affection I always craved. And in a land with no tolerance for outsiders, feigning amnesia and impersonating shifter royalty may be the only way to survive.

For Ryin, falling in love is the worst kind of betrayal...

As a Fai warrior in captivity, I'm forced to serve my enemy even as I plot their destruction. The lost princess returned much changed, now the heat between us crackles irresistibly. While helping her heal using my magical talents, I begin to question what I thought I knew about the Nimali. She remains as forbidden as ever, but she also might be the key to freedom for me and my people.

Caught between two enemy factions balancing on the knife-blade of annihilation, our lies are the only thing keeping us alive, but they just might be our undoing.

This was a decent read, but I felt like the characters were pretty generic. I liked the prince better than the two main characters, so I might read more about him. I was interested enough to keep reading the story, but not so much I’m eager to read the sequel. I found the court intrigues in the midst of a world slightly skewed from our own to be a bit not realistic, but my main problem was I just didn’t really care about the characters that much.

L. Penelope was born in the Bronx and lives in Maryland. Savage City is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Heartspell Media in exchange for an honest review.)

(Blog link live 3/31.)
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Overall great plot, loved the characters, like the world and want to know where this is going. The bones of this book are SO GOOD. 

The surface-level execution is inconsistent, though: in some places a character will have a YA-style moment of realization in their internal thoughts. The sex scene was kinda cringey and worth skipping – the on-page part doesn’t add to the story. 

In the afterword Penelope said she re-wrote this several times, including a YA version, and I feel like she hadn’t quite snapped out of that headspace when this final version was done. But let me repeat: good bones! The foundation is there despite some hiccups. I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out.  

I got a copy of #SavageCity from #Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I was drawn to this book by the concept, it seemed different then what I've seen before and certainly delivered. I was nice to step out of my comfort zone with an urban fantasia but this book made it very easy to read, a perfect mix of what I'm used to reading and that new element. The magic system was very interesting to learn about, its unique without being confusing. The characters seemed well thought out and it was nice to read from their povs but without knowing everything about their past. It made the mysteries hinted throughout even better. It also felt like we grew with them.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine you die and awake to a beast trying to kill you, people who call you princess and who thinl you're someone else. Well, that's what happens to Talia.

Within this new version of San Francisco, Talia tries to find answers and work to help the people in she's not supposed to, while trying not to fall for her healer Ryin.

I give this book 3.5 stars. I was going to give it 3 because it was hard to follow at times when kt came to world-building and I also didn't find myself hooked with the romance. It felt non-existent at times and then rushed in others. Half a star more because the last chapters were what had me hooked.
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Love the premise of this book - I'm a sucker for portal fantasy. There are some very good ideas and important criticism of society. But this felt too straightforward for an adult book - I would put it more in the new-adult section. The main character is likable but a little too Mary Sue.  If you like dystopian novels and are looking for a light read, this is perfect. I can't say I was surprised by any of it, but it was a pleasant and quick beach read.
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<i>"The first time I die, my life doesn't flash before my eyes in a rush of images"</i> ... what a first line! 


After <b>Talia</b> passes away, she expects to wake up in the afterlife. Instead, she finds herself in a version of San Fransisco she doesn't recognise, where she is mistaken for the missing princess of the Nimali people, Celena. The first person she sees is someone who looks incredibly like her childhood crush who passed away years ago. <b>Ryin</b> is a Fai prisoner of war, and is nothing like the Victor she remembered from her childhood.

The Fai and the Nimali are two groups of people, separated by significant ideological differences, who have been fighting one another for a long time. Serious concepts such as slavery, humanity, souls, relationships to nature and the world, and even possible genocide are covered in this book. In a post-apocalyptic San Fransisco, we see a cruel world with a power structure which forces actions and reactions by various actors, leading to a powerful story.


This story was genuinely incredible. The worldbuilding was very interesting, and though the book took its time explaining the various elements it introduces, I truly think it is worth the wait. Talia's inner monologue is something I could easily identify with and it helped connect me to her character instantly. Ryin is a character I slowly fell in love with throughout the book and the more details of the world were introduced, the more I understood him and his motivations. 

I cannot wait for the next book in this series, as the world set-up is amazing and I became so invested in the characters and world. Very light spoiler ahead: <spoiler>The epilogue does leave a bit of a cliff-hanger, which I think will lead brilliantly into another book exploring all the elements of this world we didn't get to touch in this introductory novel.</spoiler>

<i>I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.</i>
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Savage City is an engaging story, if not a bit underdeveloped. Either way, it is always refreshing to see Black women as the MCs in adult fantasy novels (especially when the author is also Black). The first two chapters were off to a rocky start, things were hard to follow at first; it evens out pretty fast. The writing is straightforward and simplistic, which isn't a bad thing. I think the story does a good job in providing worldbuilding details as needed and I never felt overwhelmed with it. What I did feel overwhelmed with was so many bland background characters who didn't have anything distinctive about them, and so they were forgettable. To be honest, the secondary main character Ryin is also forgettable. Talia, the primary MC, was flat. She is kind of adrift in a plot and doesn't really take much action of her own that's meaningful to the plot's development. Things just happen to her. And she's a bit one-dimensional.

While I did enjoy this story overall, I do have some minor gripes like the development of the romantic subplot (it was supportive and non-toxic, which I appreciate, but I didn't really believe they were in love). There were a few other moments in the story that I felt were glossed over and maybe needed to be developed more. The ending felt a bit rushed. Sometimes the dialogue felt overly formal and stiff, even for the main character, who is from our Earth in modern times.

Speaking of worldbuilding, I can't quite understand why there are royals in an alternate world that seems to be post-apocalyptic modern Earth set in the United States. This isn't something that is addressed, but I did wonder why they would resort to kings and queens in a place with a history like the U.S. And if this alternate Earth had a different history, that wasn't addressed so the readers are left to wonder. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something that caught my attention.

Also of note: I did also listen to the audiobook of this series while reading along, but I stopped listening to the audiobook because I felt the performances of the readers - particularly the voice of Ryin - was stilted and made reading unenjoyable. I think for this book if you're debating between audiobook and ebook, maybe pass on the audiobook!

Either way, I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the sequel.

Trigger content warnings: brief mentions of a bad car accident and then another mention of a pedestrian being struck and killed by a car; slavery, torture, violence, sexual content (between consenting adults), imprisonment.

I recieved the audiobook and ebook versions in advance in exchange for my honest review via Netgalley.
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