Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday #Review - Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown #YALIT #Historical

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Historical

A thrilling and suspenseful World War I–era spy novel about a bright British girl who is sent into the heart of enemy territory to rescue Britain’s most valuable (and secret) spy—perfect for fans of Code Name Verity and What I Saw and How I Lied.

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

Teri Brown's Velvet Undercover is the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences. The story is set to the backdrop of the Great War, aka World War I. Samantha Donaldson is a practical, intelligent British girl. She’s studied code breaking, languages, and mathematics, and she isn’t afraid to prove herself to anyone. She's a strong, brilliant, likable heroine. She is also someone who can legitimately speak several languages as though she was native to that country. 

When Sam, who is employed as a messenger at MI5, finishes runner up in the Girls Guides competition, she is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche. This could be the adventure she’s always dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? When Letty Tickford, her handler, reveals shocking news, and the fact that Sam is "clean," having never been in the field before, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity as it may never come her way again.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany. The spy is known to the members of LDB as Velvet. Nobody knows who Velvet really is. Samantha’s journey starts by taking on a new identity and background as Sophia von Schonburg. She trains hard in spy craft and using her ciphering skills. Extracting a spy will not be easy, especially when she has to go deep undercover
within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. 

While serving as governess to the children of the family, Sam must unravel the truth among the suspects and guests in Berlin's royal palace is a dangerous game, and making it all much more complicated is Samantha’s forbidden attraction to a handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both? 

Brown brings danger, intrigue and dark twisty streets of World War I era Berlin to life in this thrilling and mysterious historical novel. Brown has become something of a go to author when it comes to Young Adult Historical Fiction. Her previous series was Born of Illusion set in New York City. I will say this. While I will definitely recommend this novel, I am actually disappointed that there isn't a sequel. There is so much more to explore with Sam, as well as the all women's group known as La Dame Blanche, and the romance between Sam and her intriguing beau. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday #Review - Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman #YALIT #SyFy

Series: Arc of a Scythe # 2
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: S&S Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Recommended By: 
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.
The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

Thunderhead is the second installment in author Neal Shusterman's Arc of a Scythe series. Shusterman's world is a place where an Artificial Intelligence called the Thunderbird provides the people with everything they need to survive. There's no more hunger, everyone has shelter and jobs if they so choose, and the people also have the technology to be revived if they die, as well as the ability to turn back time to live as long as they as they desire. 

There is one group who doesn't not answer to the Thunderbird. That group is Scythe's. Scythes are the ones who glean (kill) those in order to keep the population growth from being overcrowded. Once again, the author alternates between Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova, but there is a third character who gets a fair amount of the story. His name is Greyson Tolliver. More shortly. Rowan and Citra have taken opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. He has seen the corruption of the Scythe's and wants to send a message that their behavior will no longer be tolerated. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Meanwhile, Citra, now called Scythe Anastasia, is continuing her mentorship under Scythe Curie. She sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes that once followed Goddard who wanted to upset the apple cart and create his own version for the world. One could call Citra the compassionate Scythe. She let's those she chooses have ample time in which to prepare and even allows the chosen to chose how they are going to die. 

I mentioned Greyson before. Greyson has an interesting storyline. Greyson is a kid that had absentee parents. He was pretty much raised by the Thunderhead who became his only friend and confidant. All emotions that he should feel towards his family, he feels for the Thunderhead. He goes from being a chosen one to having his entire life turned upside down. Unable to interfere with the Scythe's, the Thunderbird actually uses Greyson in ways that may or may not make sense to a majority of readers. I was so disheartened by the things that Greyson encounters. I wanted the author to stop torturing him and get to the point of why Greyson was so important.

There are other characters that are involved in this story as well, including the return of Faraday, and a woman named Munira. The pair are searching for something I shalt not spoil. It defeats the purpose of giving out too much information. I will say that I am still trying to connect the point of this search, with what happens to Citra, Rowan, and even Scythe Curie who have have come to love. 

In between chapters, we also get a deeper understanding of what the Thunderbird is, and what its reasoning for being really means for humanity. There are some really good twists and the world building was excellent opening up more information about the Scythes and the politics within the Scythedom. The ending of this book is particularly intense and action packed, and left an indelible reminder that life is fleeting, and so is author's abilities to stay away from heart breaking cliffhanger endings. 

Would I recommend this story? Yes. While it is still technically a young adult themed novel, there are plenty of adult situations to make any reader stay until the ending. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

ARC #Review/Excerpt - Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves #YALIT #Historical

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion # 2
Format: E-Book, 464 pages
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Historical

Get ready for more magic in the dark, dazzling, action-packed sequel to Blood Rose Rebellion.

Sixteen-year old Anna Arden was once just the magically barren girl from an elite Luminate family. Now she has broken the Binding—and Praetheria, the creatures held captive by the spell, wreak havoc across Europe. Lower-class citizens have access to magic for the first time, while other Luminates lose theirs forever. Austria and Hungary are at odds once more.

Anna thought the Praetheria were on her side, grateful to be free from the Binding. She thought her cousin Matyas’s blood sacrifice would bring peace, equality, justice. She thought her future looked like a society that would let her love a Romani boy, Gabor.

But with the Monarchy breathing down her neck and the Praetheria intimidating her at every turn, it seems the conspiracies have only just begun.

As threat of war sweeps the region, Anna quickly discovers she can’t solve everything on her own. Now there’s only one other person who might be able to save the country before war breaks out. The one person Anna was sure she’d never see again. A bandit. A fellow outlaw. A man known as the King of Crows. Matyas.

Series Overview: Sixteen-year-old Anna, never capable in magic, finds she holds the key to reshape the nature of magic and the ways of society—but it will be a dangerous journey.

Lost Crow Conspiracy is the second installment in author Rosalyn Eves Blood Rose Rebellion series. The story alternates POV between Anna Arden and a second character who I will talk about later. As the story picks up, it is May 1848, and Anna is living in Vienna, Austria with her sister Catherine and her British diplomat husband. Anna's life hasn't been the same since she released the so called Praetheria from their thousand year old prison by breaking the binding. 

Even though some call her the Heroine of Hungary, Austrians have not forgiven or forgotten her role in releasing Hungarian rebels in Buda-Pest and saving her friends lives. If they knew about her role in breaking the binding, she would be in even more trouble. Especially with the Luminates, who lost control over who can actually use magic or not, demanding answers to who was responsible. Now that Anna has broken the binding, people from any class have the ability to be a conduit for magic. 

People are also not aware that Anna is a chimera, or a two souled person who can shatter spells. Not even her sister who notices almost everything. Thankfully, only 4 people are aware of that secret. Anna finds herself in the presence of Habsburg royalty in this story. Archduke Franz Joseph and Archduchess Sophie are pivotal to the stories political machinations as well as a whole slew of trouble for Anna. 

But, Anna hasn't forgotten about her deal with Hunger for his help in Hungary, and on that issue, she enters the fray of a political world that has no love for the newly freed
Praetertheria. That brings Anna to the Congress of Praetheria which is convening to address the unwanted visitor to this new world of reality. The world is split on what to do with the Praetheria from Russia granting them all sanctuary, to England wanting to prevent this from happening. She's being courted by a royal, while her heart lies with a Romani who continues to believe they have no future together.

Anna faces a huge fallout from not telling certain people about what really happened to her cousin Maytas. It also means that we, as readers, get to see what really happened to Maytas. (Some think this is a huge spoiler. Sorry folks!) We get to meet a whole new cast of characters. Matyas' path to finding out who he really is and what path he will eventually take, and what he is actually capable of, leads him to the company of the Goddess of Hungary Boldogasszony and less righteous thieves and bandits.

Matyas story is the more action packed, while Anna's is the most politically driven. As the story works towards a world at war, it will be interesting to see how Eves resolves Anna's troubles and whether or not she will find happiness in the face of tremendous challenges and difficulties.

Would I recommend this story? Yes, I would. I love the historical figures that are intertwined into the story. I love how Anna takes the world on her shoulders and tries to survive without losing everyone she loves, including her own sister who has never been one of Anna's strongest supporters. Anna and Matyas stories 

Favorite Quote(s):

"You think because I am a girl, I am weak. Because I speak for those who are given no voice here, my voice should matter less. You are wrong, on both counts." —Anna

"Magic comes from life force. Magic is not soul, but soul fuel magic. The stronger your soul, the stronger your magic. Humans are fools to think praetheria have no souls. It is because we have big souls, old souls, that we have such powerful magic. And you, because you are a chimera, you have two souls. You could have great magic, if you were not afraid." Vasilisa, Praetherian 

Chapter 1

Vienna, May 1848

There is a feeling a hunted creature gets: a prickling of fine hairs at the back of the neck, a sense of unseen eyes crawling across one’s spine, a shift in the air. A smell, perhaps.
I could not say what it was that night that struck me, only that between one turn on the ballroom floor and another, a sickness settled in my stomach. Someone—or something—was watching me.

My laugh turned brittle, my fingertips cold. I scanned the ballroom as I danced, searching for the source of my disquiet. Music swelled around me. Men in dark suits and women in jewel-toned gowns swirled past, gliding across the marble floor in time to one of Johann Strauss’s waltzes. Frost and fire flickered up alternating walls, part of the night’s illusions.

It was not so unusual, at a ball, to play at predator and prey: for women to hide behind their fans and fluttering lashes; for men to prowl the rim of the room in search of new game.
This was different.

Catherine would say I was being fanciful—or fretful. Maybe I was imagining things. Maybe the eyes I felt boring into me, the glances that shifted just before I turned, belonged to gentlemen whose interest in me was more flirtatious than feral. But most of those gentlemen owned their interest: their names crowded my dance card. And the thought of their attention did not make my skin crawl.

Perhaps it was one of the many military men, resplendent in their dress uniforms: white and red and green and gold. I had not missed how they turned away when I approached, how their mouths lined with distaste. The Austrians had not forgiven me for releasing Hungarian rebels in Buda-Pest in the middle of a battle their soldiers had lost. Only the Hungarian hussars, with their elaborately frogged and embroidered dolmans, smiled at my approach.

But neither the Austrian soldiers nor the Hungarian hussars knew the whole truth: that before I had freed the prisoners, I had broken the Binding spell, shattering elite control of magic and releasing the creatures held inside the spell. If they knew, they would do more than turn away. They would shun me entirely.

A particularly exquisite being floated past, as much light as solid form, bearing crystal goblets on a silver tray. I watched it pass, my gloved fingers curling. Of all the things I disliked about my new home in Vienna—from the overwhelmingly ornate buildings to the excessive formality—this new fashion of hiring inhuman beings distressed me most. I had not freed the creatures from the Binding for them to serve as ornaments for the nobility. Praetertheria, the scientists called them now. Praetheria for the nonscientists, for those who did not simply call them monsters.

“Do you make a long stay in Vienna?” my partner, a tall man with thinning hair, asked.

I wrenched my focus back. My inattention was rude, and he had done nothing—yet—to deserve it. “I am not certain. I am visiting my sister, Lady Gower, and her husband. He is attached to the British embassy here.” I did not tell him that it had taken a month of wheedling, after Catherine’s yuletide wedding, before Mama allowed me to leave England, and then only because Mama thought gentlemen on the Continent might not be so particular, and the money Grandmama had left me might sweeten the pill of my forward nature.

My chimera nature, the dual souls fighting for dominance inside me. But Mama knew nothing of that.

I shivered, wishing abruptly that I had not come. I did not want to dance with strangers, to make small talk with snobs. I wanted to be in Hungary, among my old friends, walking alongside the Duna River with Gábor. But this was part of the deal I had made with Mama when I left England: I could come to Vienna with Catherine if I made an effort in polite society.

My partner asked another question and I answered mechanically, my mental image of Gábor’s dark eyes and warm smile dissolving.

I searched out the creature again, now on the far side of the room. I wondered what it was: vila or hundra or álf or something I had no name for.

A girl with hair so pale it looked white stood beside the praetherian, whispering to it. As if she felt my eyes on her, she glanced up. A cold shock flashed through me. Was she the source of that hunted feeling? But her eyes fell away, uninterested.

We finished out our dance with idle chatter: discussions of the weather (chilly still), speculations as to whether Emperor Ferdinand and Archduke Franz Joseph might appear (I doubted it), and gossip (on my partner’s part) about people I did not know. Neither of us spoke about the real issue—the reason why so many outsiders had convened on Vienna in late spring, a season when the nobility should be preparing to leave for their country estates.

In the months since I had released the praetheria from the Binding, the question of what to do with them had grown increasingly vexing as they regained their strength and mingled more with society. What rights—if any—ought praetheria to have? Where should they live? A Congress to settle the issue was to begin in a little over a fortnight, on the seventh of June. Were it not for the Congress, Catherine and Richard might have stayed in England, and I with them.
My partner returned me to the corner where Catherine waited, her cheeks still flushed from her own turn on the floor. For a fraction of a second, some trick of the light and her profile made me see Grandmama, and I stopped, my heart aching anew with her loss.

Catherine turned at my approach. “Anna, can you not persuade Noémi to dance? I hate to see her buried among the dowagers and chaperones like this.”

My cousin Noémi shrugged, her fingers flickering upward to brush the glimmering pelican of her soul sign and then linger on the filigree cross she wore. Mátyás’s cross. “My brother is but eight months dead, ma’am. My uncle bid me come, but I do not wish to dance.” Her hands dropped to smooth the lavender folds of her skirt, and my heart fell with the gesture. Noémi would not have abandoned the black of deep mourning without pressure from her family. “I am no longer certain of my steps.”

Once, Noémi had loved a dance. As had I. The revolution and Mátyás’s death had changed us both. Luminate magicians had smoothed her blistered skin to show no scar, but some of the deeper damage she had sustained when we fought to break the Binding remained. Even Luminate healers could not work miracles. At home Noémi wore spectacles that sharpened some of her dulled vision but could not correct the near blindness in her right eye. But her aunt had forbidden the eyeglasses at the ball.

“You certainly do not lack for partners.” Noémi caught my wrist, where a silver charm dangled from a bracelet. It was cunningly engraved with the fire and ice of the night’s theme, the pages of my dance card folded neatly inside.

“Money compensates for many faults.”

Now it was Catherine’s turn to frown. “You underrate yourself.” Her own rose soul sign glittered, a reminder that she, like Noémi, was among the lucky Luminates who had not lost their magic when the Binding shattered and could still cast a soul sign for public display.

I had promised myself not to unduly aggravate Catherine, so I swallowed a tart answer and said merely, “Thank you.”

Catherine peered over my shoulder, reading the fine print of the names to Noémi. “Zichy, Széchenyi, Peterffy .?.?.”

“You are still the darling of the Hungarians, and not for any of your wealth,” Noémi said. “They remember what you did.”
“What we did.” Noémi had been with me the night I broke the Binding, and in the prison, during the terrible aftermath of fighting. I did not think either of us had forgotten the smell of gun smoke and blood, the keening of creatures in the street, the silence of an assassin moving through a dark prison. Besides Grandmama and Mátyás, who could no longer speak my secret, only four living souls knew what happened that night: Noémi, my uncle Pál, myself—and the praetherian with whom I had made my bargain, an army in exchange for a broken spell.
Catherine shuddered. “Please, Noémi, must you mention that now? Someone might hear you.”
As if talk of a revolution were the worst thing that could happen to one. I sprang up. “I am parched after all that dancing.”
“Richard has already gone to fetch me some lemonade. I’m sure he will bring some for you as well,” Catherine said. “And haven’t you a partner for this dance?”
“Please make my excuses.” I did not wait for Catherine’s answer before plunging into the crowd. Unwanted images from that bloody October day tumbled through my head. Though I pressed my fingers to my temples, I could not shake the pictures. I could not stay beside Catherine and pretend I had any interest in the dance. I could not sit placidly with Mátyás’s sister and lie to her with my smiles and light words.
Noémi did not know all my secrets. She did not know that everything we had won that day—the broken Binding, the praetherian army, the revolution—had been bought with her brother’s blood.
And I had held the knife that killed him.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves #276 - Week Ending 03/17/2018

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!
Some very curious titles this week. First three are borrowed from my neighborhood library, the next five were approved via NetGalley, and 1 surprise from Edelweiss. I love surprises, don't you?
Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - The Knowing by Sharon Cameron (YA, SyFy)

Tuesday - Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - The Carnelian Crow by Colleen Gleason (YA, Mystery)

Thursday - The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D VIA Library, NetGalley, Edelweiss*

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday #Review - Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Falling Kingdoms (#6)
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

The Falling Kingdoms series by New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes comes to a thrilling conclusion.

As two lethal elemental gods set out to destroy Mytica, sworn enemies must become allies in the final fight to save the kingdoms.

Jonas continues to willfully defy his destiny, but the consequences of plotting his own course are drastic. As the fight for Mytica rages on, he must decide just how much more he’s willing to sacrifice.

Lucia knows there’s something special about her daughter and she’ll do anything to protect her, even if that means facing Kyan alone.

Amara is called back home to Kraeshia. Grandma Cortas has her own plans for Mytica’s future. She promises Amara power, revenge, and dominance if she agrees to be part of her scheme.

Magnus and Cleo’s love will be put to the ultimate test. Dark magic is causing widespread destruction throughout the kingdom. Enemies across the sea are advancing. And unrest is stirring throughout the land. Is their love strong enough to withstand the outside forces tearing them apart?

Immortal Reign is the sixth and final installment in Morgan Rhodes Falling Kingdoms series. Immortal Reign includes Easter eggs and teasers to The Cursed Heir, the last book in the Spirits and Thieves trilogy. But, enough of that for now. This is a series that takes place in the fantastical land of Mytica where there were once three separate countries; Limeros, Paelisa, & Auranos. Mytica has a new ruler and her name is Amara Cortas from the land known as Kraeshia. If you haven't read the previous installments, please do so. There has been so much that has happened that if you missed the previous stories, you won't understand the characters, & you will also miss out on the fantastic worldbuilding, worthy main and secondary characters, and brilliant villains of which there has been more than a few. 

The story picks up right where Crystal Storm left off. The Kindred have claimed the bodies of Cleo, Nic, Olivia, and Taran while Magnus is in a very dark place not of his own choosing this time. Where Olivia and Nic were completely under the influence of the Kindred that ‘possessed’ them, Cleo and Taran were not, and still had command of their bodies. Let's talk about each of the individual characters that Morgan uses to tell her final story in what has been an exciting and twisted series filled with magic, death, betrayal, romance, immortal elementals, and curious couplings. Our main characters are: Prince Magnus, Princess Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and the before mentioned Amara. As the story opens, readers also get an introduction to yet another character who you will hopefully know who she is since she's kind of a big deal. 

In Paelsia, Jonas Agallon & Lucia Damora are traveling together after she survived what she wasn't supposed to survive. Lucia has gained something pretty powerful, a baby, that may be even more powerful than she is. Lucia & Jonas try to make their way back to Lucia's family not knowing what has happened to Magnus or the others. They have no idea that all four Kindred Gods have been released from their prisons. This is an interesting partnership which pretty much stays the course with a few bumps along the way. Lucia, who wasn't exactly one of my favorite characters after she ran off and got herself into deep kimchee, now has a huge decision and a course of action that will take her towards her supposed fate and prophecy. She still isn't my favorite character because she continues to make awful choices right to the very ending of the series. Meanwhile, Jonas was given a gift, and has grown tremendously over the course of this series. He's still not the rebel that he once was, and he has issues that linger every now and then.

Cleiona (Cleo) Bellos has a huge issue to deal with. She is now sharing her body with an elemental that will push and pull her the entire way. Yet, she is also strong and refuses to give in to anyone's threats, or intimidation, including Kyan, the Kindred Fire Elemental. If she loses herself, she wants to go out in her own way just like she has tried to grind a path from being without a family, married to a man she despised, only to find someone who really cares for her in return. When it comes to the ending of this story, I was absolutely floored, and no I will not spoil it for you. 

"Whatever happens - you and me are together forever. All right?"  

Once we get finally get through Jonah, Lucia, Amara, and Cleo's first appearances in the story, we find Magnus Damora is a precarious situation. Magnus hasn't always been my favorite character, but man does he really have an interesting storyline. He has been involved in some of the worst decisions of any character, outside of Jonas and Lucia. But, his one concern is actually the most heart warming. He really, honestly cares about Cleo, and she has found that he isn't who she thought he was. If you think your family has issues, you can't hold a match to Magnus and Lucia's. 

The least likable character in this book is Amara. To me, her solo storyline wasn't even remotely entertaining until later in the book when she returns home to face her impending rise to becoming Empress of Kraeshia. Then, to top things off, the author decides to reveal yet another curious coupling for which I won't spoil, but if you have read the series to this point, you can probably guess who the character is. 

So, in conclusion, yes I will recommend this series to readers who are looking for a series with great world building, fantastic characters, including secondary characters like Nic, Nerissa, Ashur, and Felix. It also has the most interesting villains you will find anywhere. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

ARC #Review - The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: The Bone Witch # 2
Format: ARC, 528 pages
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

In this dark, engrossing sequel to The Bone Witch, Tea has mastered resurrection—now it’s time for revenge 

Tea, a bone witch who can resurrect the dead, is done with her self-imposed exile. She now possesses all seven bezoars she needs to revive the powerful daeva. With the help of these terrible monsters, she can finally enact her revenge against the royals who wronged her and took the life of her one true love.

Alliances and allegiances are shifting, and danger lurks in and out of the kingdom. But Tea's heart is set on vengeance, even if it turns her against her now-estranged brother, who supports her enemies. War is brewing, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

The Heart Forger is the second installment in author Rin Chupeco's The Bone Witch series. Rin Chupeco returns to the atmospheric and enchanting fantasy world she created that follows in the footsteps of the series starter, The Bone Witch. This captivating fantasy series features Persian and Asian influences, while focusing on witches, curses, and resurrection. The author once again explores protagonist Tea Pahlavi's past and present by alternating each chapter. While this can be confusing, there is the fact that Tea's future is told by a Bard, and not Tea herself.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family and other Asha as well. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch who is feared and ostracized in the kingdom because she may be the strongest Bone Witch to come along. Bone Witches are powerful. They have access to elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human realm. Tea's past slowly proceeds forward from where we left her in the first installment. 

We are nearly to the point where readers will finally discover why Tea was exiled from her friends, and her family, and has declared war on those responsible. We are also at the point where War is looming on the horizon, and there is a good chance it will spread out of control unless Tea can find the last of her enemies and pay them back for what they did to her. In the meantime, our fearless Bard has traveled a long way to discover Tea of the Embers and tell her remarkable story.

What he has found so far, is a powerful young woman on the brink of doing something either extraordinary brave, or remarkably stupid. She will either survive to have her revenge on her betrayers and the Faceless, or go down in flames in the most public way possible. Bard is in the forefront of everything that happens in the present to Asha, and her few allies who have struck around. He witnesses great betrayal, strange beasts, Asha who are attempting to stop Tea in her tracks, and a love affair between Tea and a Death seeker who was brought back from the dead. TMI?

One of the more curious aspects of this series is the use of Heartglass which can be forged by Heartforgers using the memories from a select variety of people, including Tea. In this case, Prince Khalid, the older son of the King, has the heartforging capability which is definitely needed in this story. In fact, I dare say that he is as important to this story as Tea, or Fox, or anyone else for that matter. Once again, the ending of the book damn near killed me. We get through a bunch of trials and tribulations while learning about Tea's banishment and then we are hit upside the head with a two ton heavy brick because now we have to wait an entire year to find out what the author has up her sleeve for Tea, Khalad, Fox, and Kalen.

Would I recommend this story & series? Yes, I would. First of all, I adore the Bard. He isn't the bravest person in this world, but his presence and his ability to tell Tea without learning too far in calling her a villain, or a hero, is remarkable. I adore the romance between Tea and another character I won't spoil. The odd mixture of past and present actually works for me and that in itself added another plus to my rating. I am still rooting for Tea to get her happy ending even with all that has happened. Has to be said, this story blew the first installment away.