Thursday, January 31, 2019

#Review - The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson #YALit #Historical #Fiction

Series: Hagenheim # 9
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations

Mulan isn't afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father's soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can't stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord's ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father's ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster . . . or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen-and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan's only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother? 

The Warrior Maiden is the Ninth installment in author Melanie Dickinson's Hagenheim series. Each book features two different characters from book to book. This story is about an 18 year old girl named Mulan. Mulan enjoys horses and archery. She has been trained not by her father who is a soldier, but by her friend 12-year old Andrei who has followed her father around from battle field to battle field.

With her country, Lithuania, fighting against the Teutonic Knights, her father having passed away weeks ago, her mothers attempt at marrying her to a local butcher, and the fear of losing her home, Mulan makes a choice to leave home and pick up the name of Mikolai. With men’s clothes hiding her secret she sets off to prove her worth as a soldier but complications arise when she meets Wolfgang of Hagenheim.

She must work with Wolfgang, who just happens to be a Duke's son, to end the war and save the people she loves. Wolfgang and his brother Steffan are like yin and yang. Wolfgang joins with Duke Konrad's army to fight against the Knights. It is where he meets the fearless Mikolai who seems a bit too good to be true. Steffan wants to fight for the Teutonic Knights who claim that the Pope has given them and excuse to oppress people from countries like Lithuania and Poland. 

Steffan's actions in this book are reckless. He's hurting from an incident that took place when he and Wolfgang were children and has carried the baggage for years. The only question is whether or not the brothers will have to face each other in battle, and who will be standing in the end. The other question is what will happen once Mulan's secret is finally discovered. Under Christian dharma, women aren't allowed to fight as soldiers, nor are they allowed to wear men's clothing.

Melanie Dickinson is a new author to me. So, I wasn't aware that this was a Christian based series. I haven't read the first 8 books in this series. I learned, through reading this story, about other characters who have been featured in previous novels. I am not sure if I will go back and read any of the other books. I have become rather apathetic when it comes to Christian novels. I am a believer in God but I'm not afraid to question things that I have seen in my 6 decades of living. Nor am I afraid of calling out the Church for centuries of wrongdoing. With the rise of anti-Christianity in this country and other places, I do not believe that someone who is not a Christian will like this story.

Mulan, even though she is Chinese in birth, really doesn't bring a whole lot of Asian influence to the story. As the only woman with Mongolian decent in her village, she suffered unjustly because she did not look like everyone else. One of the puzzling aspects of this story is Mulan herself. In the beginning, she struggles to hit the broad side of a barn, and can barley carry a sword. Yet, when it comes to battle, she is a bright star who rushes head strong into danger without fear for her safety. Maybe a bit over the top which is why my rating is what it is.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#Review - Stray Moon by Kelly Meding #Urban #Fantasy

Series: Strays # 2
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Source: Pulse
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Para-Marshal Shiloh Harrison has always been a great number two for the East Coast unit. But after her boss is found dead (having betrayed the paranormals he was sworn to protect), she’s suddenly thrust into a leadership role she isn’t prepared for. And it doesn’t help that she traded away memories of one of her most important team members to save another’s life during her last mission.

Too, she’s in charge of a unit that is mired in bureaucratic red tape, meaning she’s essentially under house arrest. But a West Coast Para-Marshal has astral-projected a warning: werewolves are going missing, and she needs Shiloh’s help. Last time it was vampires. This time it’s werewolves. Half-djinn herself, she knows she can’t just sit around and do nothing while paranormals are getting snatched. Her old boss may have broken his oath, but Shiloh will do anything to serve and protect.


Stray Moon is the second installment in author Kelly Meding's Stray series. Para-Marshal Shiloh Harrison's team is in shatters. Two members have been outed as being double agents for a mysterious employer. Their team leader betrayed them, and Shiloh herself bargained away her memories of the person she loves the most in order to save lives. But, there's no time to wallow in self-pity. Not with the US Marshal services keeping an eye out for any more wrong doing on their part.

Shiloh, Jaxon Dearborn (skin-walker), and Novak Smith (Incubus) are approached by a moon witch named Chandra Goodfellows. Chandra is also a Para Marshal from the West Coast. Even with both teams on mandatory leave, Chandra believes that with Shiloh, Jaxon, Novak, plus master vampire Woodrow Tennyson, as well as Shiloh's mother Elspeth help, they will be able to track down the missing 28 werewolves who disappeared from Florida and California packs. 

Shiloh has been a Para-Marshal for 6 years first as second-in-command to Julius Almeida, and now as its de facto squad leader. Shiloh is a half djinni with abilities to grant three wishes and has Quarrel pheromones that are hard for her to control. Her abilities often affect the combative nature of humans. She is tough, snarky, and fun to follow along with. This is a series that has seen vampires, werewolves, necromancers, and Goddesses who live between worlds. Now, we can add something even more brutal and powerful who shakes up Shiloh's world.

The story book brings back Werewolf Will Carson from one of the authors short stories called "Feral House" that is featured in Carniepunk. It was that story that first got Shiloh, Jaxon, and their former squad leader involved in becoming Para-Marshals. I was actually happy that the author brought Will back for this reunion. I hope that he will once again play a role in what happens next. Especially since this story leaves a whopper of a cliffhanger ending that is sure to make readers eager to find out what happens next.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#Review - The Antidote by Shelley Sackier #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Lauded historical romance author Shelley Sackier spins her first standalone fantasy in the vein of Laini Taylor.

In the world of healers, there is no room for magic.

There is only knowledge—precious wisdom, painstaking accounts of herbal remedies, and long-practiced techniques handed down from healer to apprentice since the beginning of time. Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret.

But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, and so frustratingly incurable, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost—and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever.

A wisp of a spell later, Fee is caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the lush and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—and uncovering a secret that will change everything.

Fans of Joelle Charbonneau’s Dividing Eden series will love the lavish, twisted setting that pulls the reader into an age-old struggle between magic and science.

The Antidote, by author Shelley Sackier, is a rarity in the young adult fantasy genre. It is a full developed story line with a beginning, a middle, and an ending that precludes the need for any sequel. This is a story about Ophelia, or Fee as her friends like to call her. Her friends meaning Prince Xavi of Fireli, and his brother Prince Rye. This is a story that is set in a land known as Aethusa. It is a land that is separated into 4 Kingdoms. 

But, it is Fireli where much of the story takes place. Fee, Xavi and Rye spent their childhood together. They nearly inseparable. Xavi was destined to become king and Rye is destined to marry Fee, who is training to become a healer under a woman called Savva seems to have had an affinity for magic which is illegal. But 10 years ago, a mysterious illness struck Fireli killing half of the population. In a curious move, the unaffected where split up and sent to the other three Kingdoms. Rye was sent to Gwyndom while Xavi and Fee were left behind.

For 10 years, Fireli has remained under quarantined. The country has been devastated due to the fact that no goods can be traded with other kingdoms. The survivors are mandated to take a daily remedy to keep them from getting sick. There are even rules. “Fireli’s Three Seclusion Rules: You must never leave the castle grounds of Fireli, or the confines of your hamlet if you live outside the castle. You must never use more than the barest of Fireli’s meager resources. You must always take your antidote.”

This is where Fee comes in. As she works with Savva to keep the people of Fireli healthy, she becomes more curious as to the strange birthmark on her wrist, and the apparent way that her best friend continues to get sicker which puts his ascension to the crown in danger. She also seems to have access to magic which has been made illegal in all four of the kingdoms. However, 10 years has now passed, and the quarantine is about to be lifted. 

For the first time in 10 years, Fee, Xavi, and Rye will be reunited while also expecting a visit from Princess Quinn, Xavi's betrothed from the Kingdom of Gwyndom. Things come to a head with the arrival of Quinn. With her arrival, Xavi actually gets sicker to the point where the story becomes almost a murder/mystery. What is really happening to Xavi? Does Quinn have anything to do with Xavi's sickness?

What's even worse is that Rye truly believes that Fee has had a hand in Xavi's situation and turns his back on her completely for Quinn who he has spent years with. Fee ends up with still puzzled Rye traveling to Gwyndom where she hopes to find answers. The story that takes place in Gwyndom is very telling. Readers get to know other magical users who have been hiding for fear of being killed. She will also find answers to her own genealogy which really made things interesting.  

In a market saturated with dark, epic YA fantasy series, The Antidote stands out as a lighter, more accessible story of magic, romance, and friendship. Fee’s attachment to two princes is subtle but loaded, and the life-or-death stakes of the story push all three into a gripping romantic conclusion.

Monday, January 28, 2019

#Review - The Flame Queen by Dax Munro #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Legends of Peradon #1
Format: E-Book, 330 pages
Release Date: January 15th 2019
Publisher: Munro Tales
Source: Xpresso Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

One woman will take back her freedom. And rise.

Violetta will never forget that day. Guilt shadows her every step as she prepares to take her father’s throne. Sadly, he has other ideas. Violetta must marry or forfeit her royal birthright, but all she wants is to be free, to no longer relive the tragic events of her past. If only she can learn to love again, to put the past behind her and begin anew.

Enter Emperor Ryore Frost. Handsome. Swave. And her sworn enemy.
As Violetta feels new emotions stirring within, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to this mysterious man. Could she risk marrying her mortal enemy if it meant a chance at securing her freedom?

Four Magical Realms. One troubled Princess.

One love-starved Emperor. And a trio of assassins, lying in wait.

The Flame Queen is the first installment in author Dax Munro's The Legends of Peradon series. Welcome to Peradon. A collection of 4 separate Realms (Spring, Autumn, Summer, and Winter) representing the 4 elementals (Earth, Air, Flame, Frost). The story revolves around two key players: Prince Ryore, and Princess Violetta. The story actually beings in the Frost Realm of Emperor Jugan.

Jugan adores his youngest son Fadius while loathing the very existence of his oldest son and heir Ryore. Jugan's reasoning is that a seer named Reiza has told him that Ryore will marry the youngest daughter of the Kingdom of Flame and become Emperor. He puts into motions to have both of them killed. Ryore was considered to be weak, and presumably would make an awful king. For Jugan, this could not stand. Violetta's only crime was being the prophesied woman.

For Violetta Flame, she has no clue as to what is about to happen to her, and her family until she somehow manages to survive an assassination attempt which takes away her mother and her brother Darius, the apparent heir. Violetta has never been eager to rise to the status of heir. But, with the death of her brother, she is now thrust into the spotlight. She is much more free wheeling and interesting in seeing other places. What's even more twisted, is that Violetta has feelings for Xyhoni, the heir of the Earth Kingdom. 

And, if that weren't enough to have you scratching your head, it appears as though Ryore has been secretly keeping track of Violetta for years because of her beauty and apparent intelligence. One could call him a creeper who is totally obsessed with the young woman who is now heir to the Flame Realm, and will soon be expected to marry. But, Ryore apparently has some underlying goals of unifying the two kingdoms which includes Violetta.

Meanwhile, Reiza, Fadius and another character called Arlas, a stealthy assassin, have concocted plans that will remove both Violetta and Ryore and install Fadius as the new Frost Emperor. Caught in a bizarre world as the new Empress, Violetta's life spirals out of control. Every step she takes, seems to take her further and further away from who she really is. But, it does awaken some impressive new powers to keep her safe from those who want to harm her.

Apparently, this was originally called The Phoenix under a different author name Daccari Buchelli. This is a fantasy coming-of-age novel, where the main character goes through a lot of trials and tribulations, including some evil forces, before gaining understanding about herself and the world around her. Including her own strength and her own rather spectacular powers.

Friday, January 25, 2019

#Review - Dream Keeper by Amber R. Duell #YALIT #Fantasy #Paranormal

Series:  The Dark Dreamer Trilogy #1
Format: E-Galley, 288 pages
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: The Dark Dreamer Trilogy #1
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Syfy, Fantasy

The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora's closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn't want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she'll crack. So when Nora's friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn't altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for...

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord's escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there's no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora's sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn't careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)

“For every light, there was a shadow, for every dream, a nightmare.”
Dream Keeper is the first installment in author Amber R. Duell's The Dark Dreamer Trilogy. A fair warning, this story is dark. There are grotesque death scenes that may not be suitable for those who are triggered by blood and more blood. Personally, none of this affected me in the way I rated this book overall or my desire to read the sequel. This story alternates between 17-year old Nora Gallagher, and the Sandman who is the only one who has kept her sane since her parents divorce. 
Nora has had an ongoing relationship with the Sandman every night for the past 5 years. The same Sandman who is supposed to keep the nightmares away while you are sleeping. Nora learned that talking about the Sandman to her friends and family was a no no as it would only land her into treatment yet again. 5 years ago, the Sandman placed a dream inside of Nora's mind thus making her a Dream Keeper. 
The Dream is the key to unlocking an invisible barrier keeping the Nightmare Realm from spilling into the Dream Realm, or even the Day Realm. But, the Weaver is pushing harder and harder for Nora to release the Dream to him. The pushing ends up with several people that Nora knows being murdered in a brutal manner and her older sister, Katie, being kidnap and held in a world where nightmares are actually alive. As Nora weighs in on this new reality she thought was a safe harbor, and ends up in a battle between the Dream Realm and the Nightmare Realm, the Sandman will need to use every trick in the book in order to save her. But, will it be enough, or will the Weaver get what he wants?
The Nightmare Lord is one of the creepiest and disturbing villains you will meet. He keeps the creep factor constant throughout the story. The real terror unfolds with the vivid death scenes, each more brutal than the last. The tension remains high and there's definitely tons of unexpected twists and turns. In other words, there's a lot to make this a read which is hard to put down.
Book # 2 - Dark Consort
Book # 3 - Night Warden

Thursday, January 24, 2019

#Review - The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Glass Spare # 2
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The exciting and gorgeously told sequel to The Glass Spare, about a cursed princess who must return to the home she left behind in order to discover the origin of her curse and end a dangerous war—from the bestselling author of the Chemical Garden series, Lauren DeStefano.

With Loom’s life on the line, Wil, the exiled princess of Northern Arrod, must do what she never thought possible: return home to discover the origins of her own curse.

But home is very different from how she left it—Wil’s unpredictable elder brother Baren is now king, leading a war against the Southern Isles. And with time running out, Wil must navigate the dangerous secrets within her family to find the truth.

Nothing goes as planned, and suddenly Wil and her allies are fighting for their lives as the Southern king is out to ensure neither of his children will survive to take the throne. Traveling across cursed seas and treacherous kingdoms, Wil and Loom must make peace with their pasts if they hope to secure the future of their kingdoms.
But when their plans lead them right back to evil marveler Pahn, and to Baren—who is more dangerous than ever—can Wil and her friends outsmart their enemies, this time for good?

The Cursed Sea is the second installment in author Lauren DeStefano's Glass Spare duology. The Glass Spare ended on a surprising cliffhanger, leaving many characters in danger. Now Wilhemina (Wil) Heidle, the exiled princess of Northern Arrod, must return to her homeland—and to the family that thinks she’s dead—and uncover the origins of her curse. But, with her unstable brother Baren, now the King, Wil's attempts at uncovering deep dark family secrets might be even more precarious than previously thought.

Wil is the only daughter of the former king of the world’s wealthiest nation. She grew up in the shadows behind her brothers Owen, Baren, and the marvelous alchemist Gerdie who is perhaps the only one outside of her mother that doesn't want to see her dead. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire caused a war with the Southern Isles. 

Wil wanted nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would have given her the chance. Then an accident shed the light on the fact that she is cursed. Wil's touch can turn people into gemstones. Finding the key to her redemption put her in the path of a cursed prince named Loom who has his own ideas for what to do with her power. Loom demanded Wil's help and in return says he will help her find the man who can answer her questions. 

Unfortunately, Pahn, a marveler, is as dangerous as they come and had conditions that needed to be met before he helped anyone. This is where the story picks up. Wil is now on her way home. The story though, isn't just about Wil. It is also about Loom, the boy she has fallen in love with. The boy who is also cursed from returning to his home and picking up the reigns of the Southern Isles. Then there is Loom's sister Espel, and her marveler bodyguard Masalee who could have been the very essences of villains, but ended up on the same page thanks to actions by her own father in putting all his focus on one girl, Wil. 

The sequel raises the stakes, uncovering even more shocking secrets about the curse that has been laid on the shoulders of the youngest daughter of the House of Heidle. With a blend of updated technology and a medieval feel, the author has created a rare fantasy world that is not only dynamic and exciting, but full of treacherous kings and queens. It is completely and utterly unique and perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Renée Ahdieh.

From Wil’s complicated relationships with her brothers to Loom’s relationship with his dangerous and ruthless sister, Espel, and their terrifying father—the Glass Spare series explores compelling and emotional family dynamics. I loved Zay and her child but felt Zay could have been used more. I loved that Wil is such a curious character who loves to wander and has no desire of becoming Queen of any Kingdom. Her relationship with Gerdie is awesome.

I had some issues with this book. I agree with others that the ending felt like it was rushed. Was there some sort of deadline that was missed that the author felt the need to wrap up the story quickly? I would have loved to learn more about Wil's curse and whether or not it comes back. I want to know what happened to Baren when all is said and done. I don't actually like self loathing characters who blame everything on themselves when fate, not her own actions, were to blame for what happened.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

#Review - A Shifter's Revenge by Raven Steele, Ava Mason #Urban #Paranormal

Series: Rouen Chronicles Book 3
Format: E-Book, 349 pages
Release Date: January 15th 2019
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Urban Fantasy

"Never kick me when I'm down, because when I get back up ... you're screwed."

Briar should be living the easy life. She finally checked off the last name on her kill list. The new pack Alpha isn't an a-hole, and her smoking hot shifter boyfriend is finally ready to spelunk her bat-cave.

But she should've remembered that life hates her. An unknown evil force is kidnapping people to create an army of drug-induced, soldier-like supernaturals. If that wasn't bad enough, the Abydos, the ancient blood Briar has vowed to protect, has been discovered. Briar must risk moving it before the growing evil in Rouen gets their hands on it.

Just when she thinks she's safe, Briar learns of a deep betrayal by someone close to her that threatens not only her pack, but the entire city. She can't fight against it as she is. She must become more, become greater. If she can't accept her destiny and fully embrace the shifter she was meant to be, then history will repeat itself, and she'll lose her pack and everyone she cares about.


A Shifter's Revenge is the third installment in co-authors Raven Steele & Ava Mason's Rouen Chronicles. This story is a continuation of A Shifter's Curse and A Shifter's Rage. It has been four days since Briar, aka Isabella Moretti, removed a one of the last key players responsible for the murder of her entire pack, her family, while leaving her for dead. Briar, we learned in the previous novel, is also a powerful shifter known as the Komira. But, if you thought Briar's life was going to get any easier now that she's crossed names off her list, you are in for a huge surprise.

With the killing of the previous Alpha, Briar has caught the attention of various principals like the Ministry aka Principes Noctis, who believe they should rule the world. Briar is told she has to fill the position within 48 hours, but who does she want to put in harms way? Briar also learns that there are a whole lot of people interested in the Abydos blood, including Samira & Angel, that Briar's family swore to protect for fear of it falling into the wrong hands. It that weren't enough, the authors decide that a being called Trianus should be mentioned. 

This is the book I've been waiting for. No, not because of all the twists, and the betrayals, and the twisted love triangle that apparently is not going to be resolved, or the bizarre Hyde's that seem to be indestructible, but, because of Lynx Morgan. Lynx has been kept mostly in the background thanks to her mother, Cassandra. We know that she comes from a powerful witch family. In fact, we've met 3 of her cousins who have been attached one way or the other to the Silver Claws pack

But, when things get really going, Lynx joins with Briar, and Samira Chevoky, as well as those that Briar can trust, as she has to once again deal with powerful entities that want to force Briar to join with them voluntarily or by force if necessary. Readers of this series know that Briar is a bad-ass. We now know a bit more about Samira as well. She's the bearer of the kiss of eternal night, leader of the norther realm, and once had a relationship with Mateo. But, Lynx is able to finally come out of her shadow with an impressive display of power. 

I loved the friendship that has developed between Briar, Samira, and Lynx. I loved that Roma once again gets to play with the big dogs. I really want to learn who Roma really is, and the reason she seems to be outside of other witches cliches. I don't know about anyone else, but I actually like Angel. He really loves Briar even though she has her heart set on Luke. Angel isn't going anywhere, any time soon I don't think. 

So, here's the deal. I've seen almost everyone rate this book with 5 stars. Sorry, I can't overlook the silly editing errors throughout this book. This is not an advanced copy. It is a finished copy that went on sale 01/15/2019. Therefore, an editor should have caught the glaring errors. Example: The story is talking about one character in particular, but they ended up using the wrong name. This could have been found easily enough. 

This is the end of Briar's trilogy. The next three books are supposed to be from the point of view of Samira, and I am ok with that since the Epilogue pretty much seems to indicate that a new villain is eager to play with Samira and see who stands when all is said and done. The Samira/Mateo angle should definitely be revealing since they have some sort of background from centuries ago.

Monday, January 21, 2019

#Review - The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty #Fantasy / #Epic

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy # 2
Format: Hardcover, 640 pages
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Epic

S. A. Chakraborty continues the sweeping adventure begun in The City of Brass—”the best adult fantasy I’ve read since The Name of the Wind“ (#1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir)—conjuring a world where djinn summon flames with the snap of a finger and waters run deep with old magic; where blood can be dangerous as any spell, and a clever con artist from Cairo will alter the fate of a kingdom.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift in his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather in Daevabad for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate northern borderlands. It’s a force that would bring a storm straight to the city’s enchanted gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

The Kingdom of Copper is the second installment in author S.A. Chakraborty's The Daevabad Trilogy. This story picks up right where The City of Brass left off, then moves ahead 5 years. The story revolves around three characters; Alizayd al Qantani (Ali), Banu Nahri, and Darayavahoush (Dara). The story finds our main trio adjusting to new lives. While Nahri is growing her skill as a healer, she’s trapped in an unhappy marriage to Muntadhir and is essentially a prisoner of the palace since the Emperor is keeping a keen eye out for her. 

Nahri, the last known female healer, was brought up in Cairo where she was encouraged to heal anyone. She tries to bring that same determination to Daevabad in healing all Daeva, Geziri, shafit, but politics are a sticky thing to deal with. So, she chooses to ignore the politics by building a bridge between all of the factions who currently call Daevabad home. That includes finding ways to rebuild a hospital that was once destroyed and many of her own people were brutally murdered in the process. While the process is very slow in getting the hospital up and running. Nahri finds that she has an ally that seems eager to help her.

Ali is very much a tortured soul who as the book begins, has been exiled to the desert and chased by assassins. But, he finds a community where he can put his Marid gifts to good use. Ali has changed so much that you wouldn't recognize him from the first story. He is more powerful. He was happy being away from Daevabad, but politics always end up getting in the way of things that must be done. Ali and Nahri's relationship once thought broken forever, thaws to the point where they have a mutual goal even if it does offend his father.

Dara has been pulled back from death to serve and scheme with Nahri’s mother, Manizeh, who is determined to destroy Daevabad. As Daevabad prepares its celebrations for the turning of a new century, an unknown force from the North is preparing a siege to overthrow the current regime.

The story takes a very long time to build and develop as we learn more of the tensions presiding between the races residing in Daevabad and each character has been up to since the ending of City of Brass. This is a story filled with political intrigue, the tribal conflicts, and the desire for revenge. Dara would have to go down as the villain of this story, but I am curious as to where the author is going to take his story after the brutality of the way this story ended, and how the events leading up to the ending played out. 

This is me being fair. 1. The book could have been 200 pages shorter and perhaps I wouldn't have ended up skipping through a bunch of pages in order to get to the fantastic action packed ending pages. 2. The best part of this book is the last chapters of the book as Dara and Manizeh's plans are finally put into action, which sends Nahri and Ali straight into a battle that they want nothing to do with. 3. The way the book jumps from the part where the last book ended, to 5 years in to future, was not smooth at all. If you didn't pay attention, you wouldn't know about the time line jump.

However, because of the way this story ends, I will be reading the final book in the series to see what happens to our trio of characters who have so much at stake.

#Review - Fearless by Sarah Tarkoff #Fantasy #Dystopian

Series: Eye of the Beholder # 2
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: Dystopian

In a near future society in which morality is manifested through beauty and ugliness, a young woman will imperil her future and her world to expose the global shadow network that uses its power to play God and control humanity.

A decade ago, Grace Luther’s life was changed by the Revelations: the moment when Great Spirit “saved” humanity and transformed the world into a place where pious behavior is rewarded with beauty, and wrongdoing results in ugliness and even death.

Now, at eighteen, Grace knows that everything she believed about the Revelations is a lie—a myth constructed by the government of the Prophets to force its citizens into model behavior . . . and one that led to her mother’s death. She is determined to expose the deception and bring down the Prophets, even if it means aligning herself with the resistance, a group she doesn’t entirely trust.

Fearless is the second installment in author Sarah Tarkoff's Eye of the Beholder series. This story picks up approximately 6 months after the ending of Sinless. 10 years ago, a world wide phenomena called the Revelation, united the entire world under one Universal Theology. So called Prophets rose to prominence. Almost everyone believes that those like Joshua are a direct mouthpiece of the Great Spirit. Thanks to a network of tiny nanobots in everone's brains, there have been no wars or large scale conflicts for 10 years.

But, there has been a steep price to pay for humanities new utopia and not everyone is happy with the new status quo. Those who are “good” are blessed with beauty, while those who are not suffer horrifying consequences, disfigurement, or even death under what is called Punishment. It is hard for Grace, who is a daughter of a cleric who was front and center of the Revelation, to come to terms with any other realities. She's had years of religious fundamentalism drilled into her brain.

After insinuating herself into Prophet Joshua’s inner circle, Grace gets closer to fulfilling her mission to destroy his mind-influencing nanotechnology. Grace is now a double agent for a world wide resistance that we, as readers, will get an in-depth look into as Grace makes her way across the world trying to stay one step ahead of Joshua and others like him who rose out of the so called Revelation. Thanks to shocking discoveries in Sinless. Grace has chosen her own path.

While attending NYU, she has to deal with Dawn, and the resistance who she doesn't full trust. She has to deal with Joshua, who has his own agenda when it comes to Grace. But, the one person who she is seriously questioning is Zack, the boy who seems to be everywhere she goes. Is Zack an ally, or just another pawn in the Prophets game? Zack is a secretive government agent (which will be brought to life in this story) who is sometimes an enemy and sometimes a friend has been shadowing her every move. 

Is he protecting her—or hunting her? And Jude, her first love, has returned from hiding to aid her—a task complicated by their history. In a dangerous world filled with lies and betrayals, Grace can’t trust anyone. And the choices she makes will either save her friends, the resistance, and the hope of attaining free will—or secure the Prophets’ power and ultimate control.

I am kind of unhappy with Grace. She's a pawn to everyone from the Prophets, to the Prophets people, and of course, the Rebellion who wants her to do what they say or end up in even worse trouble. Each side wants more and more from here. Each side really doesn't care what happens to her when all is said and done. Plus, Grace has to choose who she trusts. Can she trust Zack? Or, how about Jude who she left behind in the previous installment? The ending leaves hope, but after reading the opening, I'm urious as to how the author is going to wrap this story up.