Friday, June 30, 2017

Saturday #Review - Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry #Fantasy #YALit

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Retellings

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.  Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter lies.

Christina Henry, who took on Alice in Wonderland in her own unique way and managed to knock it out of the ball park, returns with a new take on Peter Pan in Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook. Before reading Lost Boy, do yourself a favor and pretend that you've never read J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Pretend that Lost Boy is instead the prequel to Barrie's novel, or if you must, a re-imaging of the tale that puts the focus on how one boy, best friend of Peter Pan once, became the diabolical Captain Hook who hasn't been given a real chance to tell his own side of things. 

The key character is Jamie. Jamie, at 8 years old, was the first boy that Peter Pan brought with him to Neverland. Peter promised him that he would never grow up, that he would always have adventures, and that they would be together forever. All he had to do is love Peter, and be his playmate always. Jamie worshiped Peter once, but he has seen the toll that Peter's games have taken on the Lost Boys. Jamie is the best fighter on the island. Boy are both scared of him, and respect him because he, in turn, teaches them how to survive, and he knows where all the bodies have been buried. 

As the years have dragged on, Jamie realizes that Peter isn't the boy he thought he knew. Especially when he takes on being a mentor for a boy named Charlie, and later a new arrival name Sal who is more than I can say. Peter truly believes that the boys are replaceable, and if he loses one, he can always steal another one. Just as long as that boy is presumed to be unwanted. Would I consider this story to be a villain redeemed by alternative facts never heard of before? Quite so.

So, I ask you to do yourself a favor. Open your mind to the possibility that everything that you've been told about Captain Hook is a lie written by Peter and even Disney. Captain Hook is the perfect fall guy for Peter to blame for his truly bizarre behaviors. Pick up and read this story with an open mind and a willingness to extend reality to the possibility that everything that you've heard about Peter Pan is just plain wrong, and that Peter wasn't a nice boy at all. If you can do that, you will enjoy a truly fantastical ride with plenty of action, suspense, and most of all, adventure the likes that we expect from Christina Henry. 

Friday #Review - Grave Ransom (Alex Craft #5) by Kalayna Price #Fantasy @AceRocBooks

Series: Alex Craft # 5
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

In the thrilling fifth book in the USA Today bestselling Alex Craft series, Alex comes face to face with the walking dead.
Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet, reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.
Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister magic. When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can Alex get to the soul of the matter in time? 

Grave Ransom is the fifth installment in author Kalayna Price's Alex Craft series. Set in the fictitious world of Nekros City, Alex is a character who is a grave witch. She can raise shades & talk to ghosts in order to solve cases. Alex and her partner Rianna run a business known as Tongues for the Dead which more often than not deals with mundane issues like finding lost things or people. The issue at hand for Alex in this story, is that the dead are walking the streets causing trouble wherever they go, and it's just in ways that you might imagine. 

Alex takes a case of a girl whose boyfriend has gone missing. This is no easy lost and found case. Not even with Rianna's spell casting abilities, or her trusty junior detective Roy, or Falin Andrews who has been ordered to watch and ensure that Alex doesn't come to harm by the Winter Queen. While searching for the boy, she discovers something even more bizarre. This leads Alex to working with Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigations Bureau. 

Briar, as you know, hasn't exactly been the most friendly towards Alex, especially after her secret heritage as a fae was revealed. But, she's been told that she needs Alex's help. Alex is also a very rare planeweaver (she can see different planes of existence) which is wrecking havoc on her eye sight. Often times over the course of these stories, Alex finds herself in a bad position. By using her eyes too much, she ends up temporarily blind which doesn't do anyone good, let alone Alex.

From a simple missing persons case, to an all out search from the person who is causing so much trouble in Nekros City, Alex and her friends more than have their hands full. Grave Ransom is a solid installment filled with grave, wyrd magic, necromancy, surprises, action, and old faces like Death himself who has been Alex's friend since she was a young pup. With a very strange and wild ending to the story, Alex's life is just getting interesting. Alex's relationship with Briar should continue into the next installment. But, what's got me confused with whether or not a certain character will return or not. Not an easy way to end a story, but entertaining nonetheless.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday #Review - Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica #Thriller #Mystery

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 288 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow's pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 
"The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us." 
Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon. 
Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit. 
Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

Mary Kubica's Every Last Lie explores one woman's tragedy & grief after her husband and daughter are in a car crash that claims his life, but leaves her daughter physically safe. The story alternatives chapters back and forth between Clara Solberg & her husband Nick, leading up to the accident. The story begins right after Nick and Maisie are in a car accident and days after Clare gives birth to her baby boy Felix. Clare is told that Nick is guilty of driving too fast and that he alone is to blame for what happened.

Clare refuses to accept the findings. Especially after Maisie becomes terrified of black cars and the bad man who is supposed to be after her. Do we trust the imagination of a 4 year old, or do we truly believe that something nefarious happened right before the accident? While Clare investigates what really happened to Nick, she also struggles with things she finds along the way. Clare's grief is the underlying factor in not only her decision making, but her refusal to accept the facts as they are provided to her. There are other things on Clare's plate as well, not including the fact that her own mother has dementia, and has a tendency of having hallucinations. 

We also get the final moments of Nick's life as he struggles with a host of issues and challenges from becoming a new father again, to keeping his dentistry open and solvent, to fighting a frivolous lawsuit that could change everything. Nick isn't a bad guy by any means. He loves Clare, Maisie, and Felix unconditionally. But, he hurts himself by keeping secrets from Clare. Nick is one of those characters who you just can't help to be curious about because he seems to dig himself deeper and deeper into a quagmire of his own making but it's not because he's doing anything against the law. One could say that a storm of epic proportions could have been prevented in any number of ways had Nick just told Clare what was happening. 

Every Last Lie is an engaging novel that grips you from the beginning, until the surprise and perhaps shocking ending. I do have a minor issue with this story, however. I have read where others have had the same issue. The issue is with Nick's and his attempts at making money to pay his bills and keeping his family from suffering. No spoilers. I won't tell you how he does it, but I will say that you have to ask yourself where that money ended up? After all, the story runs out without any resolution as to whether or not Clare eventually finds out what Nick did. Could save a whole lot of heart break.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday #Review - The Last Descendant by Megan Haskell #Fantasy @MeganPHaskell ‏

Series: Sanyare Chronicles # 1
Format: Kindle, 312 pages
Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Trabuco Ridge Press
Source: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy

A woman torn between honor and survival…
Raised in a realm where humans are no better than slaves, Rie Lhethannien has struggled for decades to earn a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.
When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. With surprising help from a bastard prince and an ambitious blood sidhe, Rie searches for the truth behind the attack. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.
Sanyare: The Last Descendant is the first book in the Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure. If you like kick-butt heroines and action-packed fantasy filled with mythological creatures, then you’ll love the first novel in Megan Haskell’s debut series. Start your journey across the nine faerie realms today!

The Last Descendant is the first installment in author Megan Haskell's Sanyare Chronicles series. Protagonist Nuriel (Rie Ree-ay) Lhethannien is a changeling and High Court Messenger who lives in the Elf World known as Upper Realm. She has violet eyes, is fast with a blade, and also experiences premonitions. One of these premonitions saves her life. While delivering a message to Lord Goramen in the human realm, Rie is attacked by (2) Blood Sidhe (vampire) assassins from the Shadow Realm. 

With a bit of help from her mischievously dangerous pixies Hiinto & Niinka, Rie fights off her attackers. (As a side note, if you want to learn more about Rie and the pixies, Pixie Tamer is a good place to start). The question now becomes why? Why was Rie targeted in the first place, and who wants her dead? Or, was it a message to Lord Greg? The unfortunate part is that Rie is now technically in violation of the King's law forbidding any contact with the Shadow Realm. If she reports the incident, she's in trouble, if she doesn't report the incident, she's in trouble. Rock. Hard Place. 

Greg is what's known as a Sanyare, or arbitrator of the realms. He has free reign to travel where ever he pleases.
Greg asks Rie to travel to the Shadow Realm in his place and investigate for him what is happening there and why she was targeted in the first place. If she ends up caught, she will be considered to be an oath breaker and killed immediately. The interesting part? Rie learns that there is more to her than meets the eyes, especially after meeting Prince Daenor, a Fire Elf from the Shadow Guard, and the King's son. 

Rie is a very curious character. She's spent decades in the Upper Realm under the guidance of High Elf Warden Curuthannor, and his mate Lhewen who taught her how to survive. Rie's time in the Shadow Realm proves that Rie is anything but a nobody with no talents. She has to face Dark Elves, a Twisted King and his family, Red Caps, Goblins, and a whole lot more. Along with her trusty Pixies Niinka, Hiinko, Possn, Gikl & Trik, and a new addition named Plink, a female imp, Rie's adventures are highly entertaining, and fast paced and I can't wait to read the sequel!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Hope and Red (Empire of Storms # 1) by Jon Skovon #Fantasy

Series: Empire of Storms # 1
Format: Paperback, 544 pages
Release Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Action & Adventure

In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. 
A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible. 

Hope and Red is the first installment in author Jon Skovron's Empire of Storms trilogy. Hope and Red tells the story of two characters who couldn't be more different. In the Southern Isles, an 8 year old girl lives with her family in a village called Bleak Hope. In a moment, her entire village is massacred by the Emperor's biomancers searching for the next bio weapon to use against its enemies. As the only survivor, the 8 year old girl, now known as Hope, is dropped off at a monastery of warrior monks where Grand Teacher Hurlo spends the next 8 years teaching the girl the art of being a Vinchen warrior. 

Even though it is against the rules, Hurlo sees something in Hope. Hope eagerly consumes knowledge like a sailor who has been at sea way too long. The one thing that is always on Hope's mind, is the desire for revenge against the biomancer who took her family from her. After 8 years of training, and a sword called Song of Sorrows given to her by her master, Hope makes her way to a ship called The Lady's Gambit. Captain Carmichael takes the young Hope aboard where she makes her presence felt quickly as the ships protector. Even though Hope and Red are on a separate paths, she later joins with Red, Sadie, Nettles, & Filler in an effort to save their home from Imperial Soldiers and biomancers.

Elsewhere, Red lives by the skin of his chin, and the sharpness of his wit every since his parents died. His mother was a brilliant artist, while his father was a prostitute. Red lives between worlds. He is book smart, but he revels in being with the men and women who live in squalor. Taken against his will to serve aboard ship, Red finds himself as Sadie the Goats protege. Red becomes an expert thief, brilliant con artist, and has very unusual red eyes which is where his name comes from. Red's home is Paradise Circle, and things are dark, dreary, and people are disappearing by the dozens. This is a place where a bartender takes the ears of anyone who slights her, and keeps them in a jar. But, it is also home for Red, and Nettles, and Filler, and even Jilly, aka Little Bee.

There is a third character who plays an important role in this story. The characters name is Brigga Lin. Lin is on a desperate search for a new weapon, but becomes something else entirely. A female biomancer. Like the Vinchen, The Book of Secrets forbids female biomancer's. Brigga later joins with Red and Hope in her desire for revenge against the Council of Biomancer's who dissed her very existence. This is a world where the biomancers have everyone in their back pockets, including the Emperor. They truly believe that the dreaded Aukbontar will be invading soon, and in order to stop them in their tracks, they need to build weapons by experimenting on people. 

One can mix up cult classics like Oliver Twist, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gangs of New York, and Kill Bill to come up with Hope and Red. Hope and Red really does hit everything that I love in Epic Fantasy novels. There is action throughout the book, moments of quiet solitude where the characters really have to piece together plans to survive a bloody battle, a hint of romance that doesn't take away from the darkness, and vulgarity of certain languages that I may not like, but considering the setting, I am willing to ignore it. The only down side is the heart breaking cliffhanger ending that had me eagerly requesting book # 2 from my library.

The Empire of Storms
Hope and Red
Bane and Shadow
Blood and Tempest

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday #Review - Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Flame in the Mist # 1
Format: Hardcover, 392 pages
Release Date: May 16th 2017 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Source: Library
Recommended By: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

“Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything...” 

Flame in the Mist is the first installment in author Renee Ahdeh's Flame in the Mist series. The story begins with 17-year old Mariko Hattori, the main protagonist of this story, being sent away to Inako where she is to meet her betrothed Prince Raiden. Along the way, her norimono is attacked by a mysterious group who Mariko believes belongs to the dreaded Black Clan. As the only survivor, Mariko has to make a choice; return home to her family where they will most likely send her on to Inako, or disguise herself as a boy and track down the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for attacking her group.

Mariko chooses the second option, and away on a fantastical adventure we go. It has been said by many people that this story reminded them of 47 Ronin meets Mulan. I can get behind that comparison. I loved the strength that Mariko shows throughout this book. She is a very curious person who loves to learn. Even though, at times, she is rather foolhardy, far too prone to ask questions that can get her in trouble, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she does manage to catch the readers fantasy as a character who doesn't lay down and let others dictate terms to her. 

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.” 

One of the other things I loved about Mariko, is that she is an inventor who is in a world all her own. As the daughter of a noted Samurai, and the sister of Kenshin, known as the dragon, she has tries to carve out a niche all her own. She knows that she is a political pawn to be used by her father, but at the same time, once she does contact the Black Clan, she comes into her own by upping her game even more. She has an golden opportunity to not only find out who ordered her death, but discover a world that would be open to her had she been born a boy.

This story isn't just about Mariko though. Kenshin plays a part as he tries track down his twin sister, and discover whether she is dead or alive and who was behind the attack on her convoy. Kenshin is the absolute opposite of Mariko. He is hard, and cold, and dangerous. We also find ourselves deep in political intrigue in what is feudal Japan and the Empire of the Wa. We meet the very twisted royal family where nothing is at it seems, and the key players who all have an apparent agenda just waiting to be sprung. Then, there is the curious connection between Mariko and Okami and his ability to shape shift. This is a story that is filled with action, adventures, surprises, betrayals, bloodsucking trees, samurai, sorcerers, and a bit of romance.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 69

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!

Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by! 

As I celebrate my 6th year of blogging, yes, it really has been that long!
 I want to thank you. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your comments. I thank you for sticking with me for the most amazing 6 years that I've had in a very long time. Yes, there were times I thought about giving up. Haven't we all? But, reading and blogging is my life. Especially since I am unable to work. I look forward to reading your comments, stopping by your blogs, and best of all, connecting with a bunch of awesome authors who have made me feel that I'm not wasting my time. 

Have a great weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - Julia Defiant by Catherine Egan (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - The Child by Fiona Barton (Mystery)

Friday - Now I Rise by Kiersten White (YA, Fantasy)

Saturday - Infinity by Jus Accardo (YA, SyFy)

Posted @ Talk Supe Blog

*Received from NetGalley/Edelweiss*

Library or Amazon


Friday, June 23, 2017

Saturday #Review - Infinity by Jus Accardo #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: The Infinity Division # 1
Format: Kindle, 320 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.
Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.
Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Kori's, infinite Cade's…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.
Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

"There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life:
One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective.
Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking.
Three: Everything she knew was a lie.

Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life:
One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions.
Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret.
Three: Someone wants her dead.

Infinity is the first installment in author Jus Accardo's The Infinity Division series. 17-year old Kori Anderson is something of a rebel. She really doesn't get along with others. But, as an artist, she loves to defile public property with her artwork. She's been caught doing hard core tagging. Kori, as you have surmised, has a penchant for getting herself into trouble. Call it acting out if you will after losing her mother a few years before. 

Add that to some very interesting inner dialogue, and you have the strange tale of Kori Anderson. To top things off, Kori is the daughter of an Army General who is currently stationed at Fort Hannity Army Base in Welb, New York. (My mind immediately went to Fort Drum which is about 30 miles from the Canadian border). Kori's father travels a lot for work, but he has been keeping a very interesting secret. A secret that comes at Kori quickly and without warning in the form of Dylan, who somehow knows her name and decides to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse that has consequences for everyone involved. 

A game that has its routes in another place altogether. Noah Emeal and Cade Granger are two characters that are sent by her father to keep her out of trouble, and keep her safe. They really don't know what they have to deal with until they get the whole Kori affect. Now that someone apparently wants Kori dead, secrets about a group known as The Infinity Division and her father's real job come tumbling out. The whole idea that there is someone who wants to kill me part of this story unless he gets what he wants, more than pulled its own weight against what the Infinity Division is supposed to be about; parallel earth's. 

The Infinity Division has the ability to jump from place to place. As you would imagine, there is a bit of romance in this story. That romance sits on the shoulders of Kori and Cade. In one way, this romance made me a bit uncomfortable for reasons that have nothing to do with abuse, but the fact that they are from two different worlds, and are apparently in love in almost every single parallel Earth's. Have you ever read Claudia Gray's Firebird series? If so, you will most likely enjoy this series as well.

Friday #Review - Now I Rise by Kiersten White #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Conqueror's Saga # 2
Format: E-Galley, 496 pages
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise is the second installment in author Kiersten White's The Conqueror's Saga. The story is once again set to the backdrop of the era of the Ottoman Empire circa 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II aka Mehmed The Conqueror. One of my main complaints about And I Darken was the religious aspects of the story and the characters who were forced into converting against their will. Thankfully, White doesn't get bogged down with the religion this time around, but instead focuses on the character development of Lada and Radu. The story alternates chapters between Radu and Lada who has left on her own conquest. 

“He had imagined Constantinople, had wanted it for Mehmed. It had been simple and straightforward. But now he knew the true cost of things, the murky horrors of the distance between wanting something and getting it.”

Now that Lada has left him behind, Radu has Mehmed all to himself and because of it, he actually shows amazing character growth. Radu loves unconditionally, which puts him in some very awkward positions. His desire and love for Mehmed really does break the emotional bank. His marriage to Nazira is a sham, but she's still his rock. Even more so after he is later sent to Constantinople to spy on the city and she travels alongside him. Radu has had to deal with Mehmed obsession with Constantinople for years. He hasn't exactly muted that obsession, but helped it along by attempting to be part of building the Sultan's navyHe gets a first hand look at the city, and really, I think a better understanding of the people.

Radu's time in Constantinople really pulls not only on his faith, but what's right and what's wrong. There are times when Radu struggles, and this is why I really loved his development. Radu meets with several interesting characters in this book, most especially Constantine XI who's death would mark the end of the Byzantine Empire. The other happens to be a woman named Urbana of Transylvania who claims she can build a canyon the likes of which has never been seen before. Radu most interesting relationship is with Cyprian. Cyprian becomes his stalwart and friend not knowing that Radu is betraying him and the cities residents. 

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

I am pretty sure you know by know that this series is a reimaging of Vlad the Impaler in a gender swap way that makes Vlad, Lada. Lada and her troops are having a hard time getting to Lada's ultimate goal of retaking her home and becoming Prince of WallachiaShe's betrayed, ignored, laughed at, and look down upon. She may only have a little under three dozen Janissary soldiers left, but they are pretty loyal, especially Nicolae, and Bogdan. Lada may have to make a deal with the deal himself to get what she desperately wants, and she is nothing like Radu who has skills in areas she doesn't. Lada is a character who believes in carrying a big stick, and going full throttle. 

Lada's desire of reclaiming Wallachia comes at the same time that Mehmed has stepped up his plans of conquering Constantinople. Lada, I think, has come to an interesting place in her life. Unlike Mehmed, Lada's sex gets in the way of her own conquest. She has to deal with ruling families who want to keep what they have, and take away what Lada has worked hard to gather. I adored this story because it is so intense, so dark, brutal, and historically close to the actual facts of what happened during this time period. I do hope that White goes full throttle in the next book. There is plenty to come if she intends to follow in Vlad the Impaler's path.