Monday, September 30, 2019

#Review - The Shadow Court by Jenn Stark #Urban #Fantasy

Series: Wilde Justice #4
Format: Mobi, 233 pages
Release Date: September 30, 2019
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Don’t you forget about me…

She’s a Tarot-reading artifact hunter finally willing to own her supernatural abilities. He’s the all-powerful Magician of the Arcana Council who once loved her…but now doesn’t remember her, the result of a battle to defeat a terrifying enemy.

Isolated and alone, Sara must race time to help the Magician uncover his ancient knowledge, but can she live with what she finds? Will his dark past destroy them both?

Worse, a rival council, known only as the Shadow Court, has emerged to wage battle against the Arcana Council. And if Sara can’t help the Magician recall how to combat this insidious, mind-bending threat, the world will descend into devastating war.

Love could be your last, best weapon when you confront The Shadow Court.

Jenn Stark's The Shadow Court, is the Fourth installment in the authors Wilde Justice series. One should have some familiarity of The Hallowed Knight before jumping into this book since everything is connected. Well, almost everything. Tarot Card reading/artifact hunter/Justice of the Arcana Council Sara Wilde is the first Justice in two hundred years. She is tasked with taking out the most dangerous magic-wielding criminals on the planet. But, this mission might be her most dangerous yet.

Sara is on a desperate mission to find answers as to why the Magician lost all of his memories of Sara. Sara's journey takes her from French Guiana (Devil's Island) where she has to face her own Indiana Jones like adventure, to Paris, France where she discovers that she is being followed, to Barcelona, Spain, London, UK, and Hamburg, Germany before ending in Vegas. On top of everything that is happening with searching for answers to help Armaeus, Sara encounters difficult challenges where ever she goes. It seems that someone has been keeping secrets. 

Secrets about The Shadow Court and the fact that they are at war with the Arcana Council and could be the one thing to bring the entire stack of cards down in one fell swoop. Some secrets go back as far as the previous incarnation of Justice of the Arcana Council. Sara feels as though she is being herded by mysterious and invisible forces which is bad since she doesn't have any real back-up. Especially from Armaeus. Oh sure, she has Nikki, Death, Kreios, and Simon along for the ride, but they can do only so much. Plus, every time someone wants to stop Sara, all they have to do is go after Nikki. 

I liked the fact that Sara went back to her roots, as it were. She was a brilliant artifact hunter before giving all of her money to protect the most innocent Connecteds; the children. She was pushed into working for Armaeus finding dangerous artifacts before she ascended to the Council. She still is learning her job and her abilities but manages to save the world one step at a time. Sometimes I wonder if someone is finally going to give her a manual of sorts to help her discover what she is really capable of. Then I shake my head and say, what's the point after 14 books? Let her figure her own conundrums out while we enjoy the ride.

My heart broke for Sara in this book. Truth be told, I have no clue how she is able to do what she does without melting into the background and saying Go To Hell You Bloody Sods! She puts her life on the line literally every time she takes a job. Whenever there is a cry for help, Sara rushes in without any thoughts to her own welfare. Villains pop up out of the woodwork frequently with desires of removing Sara from the equation. I think we are finally getting to the point where Sara's abilities have far outmatched what she believes she is capable of. The question needs to be asked if she is really the most powerful person in the world, if not, who could match what she's shown she's capable of doing?

Stark has a brilliant ability to pack a story filled with action, suspense, twists and turns, surprises, as well as some romance kicked in. However, this book is light on romance and heavy with hi-octane action and adventure. I am absolutely OK with that. This book isn't self contained. There are way too many questions that need to be answered. So, I definitely am eager to read the next installment to see what happens next.

Friday, September 27, 2019

#Blog Tour / #Review - Unearthed by Cecy Robson #Urban #Fantasy

This week marks the release of Unearthed the first novel in Cecy Robson's new Death Seeker Urban Fantasy series featuring fae,the death, and other supernatural creatures. Come check out the book, enter to win a fun giveaway and order your copy of Unearthed!

Series: Death Seeker # 1
Format: E-Book, 331 pages
Release Date: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Cecy Robson, LLC
Source: Cecy Robson, LLC
Genre: Urban Fantasy


Fae was once a flourishing paradise. Until Death turned greedy and destroyed it, targeting the creatures who inhabited it. Those who survived escaped to Earth’s realm, but Death wasn’t far behind . . . 

Olivia Finn is just another pixie trying to blend in among humans and hide from the death hounds who devoured her family. Clinging to the talisman that keeps her veiled from those who hunt her, she believes she is safe. . .. Until Death finds her and discovers she’s immune to its grip.

Now that Olivia’s power is unearthed, she is sought by Fae who see her as their savior and stalked by dark entities compelled to destroy her. Can she trust the King of the Dead who has sworn to train and protect her? Or should she obey her instincts that warn he desires more?

Olivia can no longer hide from Death. To survive, she must seek it.

Unearthed is the first installment in author Cecy Robson's Death Seeker series. 26-year old Olivia Finn is a pixie who wears a talisman to hide from Death. There are others like her as well, including some who work in her office. A Cù-sìth Death hound named Cathasach has been searching for Olivia and others like her. He convinced other forms of Death to feed on living souls. Olivia has escaped him several times before, and she has become his obsession since devouring Olivia's family when they escaped to Earth. 

Olivia works as a paralegal, administrative assistant for MacGregor & Santonelli law firm. Olivia is clever at multitasking able to keep her boss from blowing a circuit. Olivia finds herself working for a high profile criminal defense attorney named Scott Ryker. Ryker has an unusual secret which is spoiled by the cover of this book. Living with her best friend Dahlia, lying low, and trying not to do anything to get noticed goes flying out the window when Cathasach and Gremlins attack at a bar that she and Dahlia are enjoying.

Things quickly spiral out of control when the Grim Reaper himself seems to step out of darkness to help save Olivia. But, it appears that Olivia is far from being helpless. Olivia discovers that she has new powers that can help her fight the hell hounds that are after her people. Enter Ryker, the dark brooding Grim Reaper who offers to help train Olivia in order to fight Cathasach and help her friends survive being devoured. In return he want’s her to end his life. He’s been the Ankou, aka King of the Dead, far longer then was meant to be and the long life has taken it’s toll on him.

I think it's fair to say that Cecy has a reputation for hot hunky male characters who fall for women who may be the key to survival for all Fae races but have no clue as to what they are doing. This is a story that is both humorous at times, and action packed. There are so many similarities to other series I dare not spoil them for you. Olivia is shoved into the spotlight as being some sort of miracle worker even though she has no clue how her powers work, or why everyone is not looking for her to save the day.

But she had this annoying propensity for fainting/blacking out when things got rough. Twice she did that at the height of a battle. Perhaps in this instance, third person narrative would have been preferred. There are some really interesting characters as well. Bill, her boss, is a gargoyle who is the de-facto fae leader. Jane is a cross between a Druid and a Hydra who knew almost right away that Olivia was immune to Death. There are even dragons. The villains are dark, and evil, and nourish themselves by feeding on souls. 

I may have only given this book 3 1/2 stars, but most of that negativity comes from the office politics where women suddenly have claws whenever someone looks at them wrong, or if they intrude on someone's else's man.  

Excerpt from Unearthed (Death Seeker #1) by Cecy Robson

…in the Glen a nightclub where the Fae like to gather 

Lights flash and magical mist pours across the dance floor, allowing privacy to those desperate for touch. Fae aren’t plentiful, and neither are establishments for us to gather. That’s what makes the Glen fun. It doesn’t just bring my kind together, it frees us. No glamour, no pretending. We discuss magic and the old realm, curse Death for destroying it and celebrate our survival.

With a shimmy and a shake, lavender and silver wings sprout from Dahlia’s back. She stretches, relishing the feel of simply being herself. She winks at me, her glimmering lavender eyes and lips radiant.

A drunk mountain troll stumbles between us. She releases my hand, allowing him through before clasping my hand and guiding us through the gyrating swarm of bodies. “Let’s have a drink, darling.”

I squeeze her hand. Fae are affectionate beings. In the human world, we cage our need to caress, embrace, and make love. It’s a way to keep our identities secret and another way to prevent Death from finding us.

Bill’s broken glamour was a result of a stolen kiss. It revealed his form to a human and worst of all damaged his talisman. Our talismans remain the only way to hide from those who hunt us. Without them, it’s a death warrant with our executioners often seconds from being collected.

A banshee sprints away from the bar and through the swarm of Fae. With all the grace of a swan, she leaps into the air and straddles the male who entered behind us. “David!” she screeches. “Sorry,” she adds when we groan and cover our ears. 
"David” loses his tiny accountant persona, morphing into a giant cyclops with a long blond Mohawk. He laughs, catching the banshee when her legs break free of his widening waist.

She screeches. Again. The thought of that voice in the throes of passion makes me cringe. “David is going to need serious earplugs to get through the night,” I mutter.

Dahlia giggles, her laughter like wind chimes in the soft breeze. “Perhaps. But it will be worth it, darling,” she sings.

©Unearthed, Cecy Robson, LLC September 2019 

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo 

About Cecy Robson
CECY ROBSON is an international and multi-award-winning author of over twenty-five character driven novels. A registered nurse of eighteen years, Cecy spends her free time creating magical worlds, heart-stopping romance, and young adult adventure. After receiving two RITA® nominations, the Maggie Award, the Award of Excellence, and a National Reader’s Choice Award nomination, you can still find Cecy laughing, crying, and cheering on her characters as she pens her next story. 

Cecy Robson will give one lucky winner a $50.00 US Amazon Gift Card. 


Thursday, September 26, 2019

#Review - Sword in the Throne by Helen Savore #Fantasy

Series: The Phoenix Succession #2
Format: E-Book, 343 pages
Release Date: September 16, 2019
Publisher: Oberon's Forge Press LLC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy

Can you craft a weapon out of healing?

Jamie discovers his hallucinations are fae spirits stealing life, and joins his childhood friend Drea in her quest to banish them. Along the way he accidentally unlocks a traitor’s healing ability, who in turn uses it as a sign to prove he is King Arthur returned. Drea has given up on the Phoenix but Jamie has not, and learns more about his magic from Viviane’s family. Not satisfied with the grail, the false Arthur’s search now spans both the the faewilds and the Earth.

Can they stop the impostor Arthur’s crusade when the one thing they need most to stop the fae is the most sure sign of Arthur’s return itself… to draw the Sword from the Throne.

Sword in the Thorne is the second installment in author Helen Savore's The Phoenix Succession series. After the so called Investiture failed, and since there will be no Phoenix any time soon, the story actually focuses more on Jamie than it does Alexandrea. After the events of the previous novel, Drea has been rethinking her life goals while Jamie has to travel to Llehfin to become the first Human life smith. After all, a deal is a deal, and Jamie needs to come to terms with the new reality he walked in by allying with Drea and Moralynn.

Jamie arrives in Llehfin knowing that he is a hostage to hold Moralynn to her agreement with Viviane, the Lady of the Lake. The issues become that much clearer and dangerous when Oberon declares war on the Llehfin in hopes of finding the person who is supposed to be Arthur reincarnated. Meanwhile,Drea is adrift without Moralynn around who fled to Annwn & Arthur's sword is still stuck in Oberon's throne. To make matters even more twisted, Adhomai believe he's Arthur reborn.

Moralynn makes a choice that until the Phoenix flies again, the fae will stay dead and not reincarnate as they have done over the ions. While Moralynn apparently has the scabbard and the grail, Adhomai is destroying the human world looking for the Regalia and Arthur's artifacts so that he can prove that he truly is Arthur reincarnated. Drea really ends up being more or less castaway in this book as she knows now that she will never become the Phoenix even after years of being told that was her destiny. Her so call mentor has abandoned her, and Jamie, who she dragged into this world, has made a deal which will see him grow even more as a character along with some surprising revelations and twists. After 1,000 years of Arthur being gone from the world, could he finally have returned? 

While I was surprised that the author focused more on Jamie than on Drea, the cover of the book itself is a clue that he will become the focal point from this point while Drea is being subjugated to not having any role at all. The ending didn't work for me as it left so much unanswered questions and as I said, left Drea adrift while Jamie now gets to play the role of a lifetime. Who knows that the author has in store for her next installment? Guess we'll find out!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

#Review - Archangel's War by Nalini Singh #Romance / #Paranormal

Series: Guild Hunter #12
Format: Mass Market, 480 pages
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance / Paranormal

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, faces a new challenge that threatens the balance of the world.

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see. . . .

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . . .

This war could end them all.

Archangel's War is the Twelfth installment in author Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series. The story picks up months after Archangel's Prophecy with Elena trapped inside a chrysalis cocoon but she soon awakens. The Cascade fundamentally changes both Elena and Raphael in ways that readers will soon understand and for good reason. It's all part of Cassandra's prophecy. The cascade still threatens the world and is causing all kinds of weird issues. 

Disasters are occurring across the world, ice storms and plagues of locusts, monsoons and wildfires. The Ancients are waking from their centuries-long slumber, and when they wake, chaos tends to follow. But, the one thing that is unavoidable is China's Archangel Lijuan who is up to something so horrific, that it will lead to a massive war. A war that will encapsulate all of the members of the Archangel Cadre as well as Ancients. 

Lijuan has become ultra-powerful and absolutely mad. The Cadre must over come past animosities, and come together to face the threat that could destroy everything and everyone. The book has two distinctive parts. The first part focuses on the evolution of Elena and Raphael. When they emerge from the chrysalis, they are no longer the same but I'm not going to go any further than that. Remember that the Cascade has plans for everyone but so does Cassandra's prophecy.

The final part of this book is the best part of the book. Elena and Raphael stand for New York against a horde of Lijuan's impressive enemies that you won't won't want to miss. As far conclusions to a story arc, goes all out with this story. She holds absolutely nothing, and I mean, nothing back. The war is bloody and devastating and unfortunately not all of your favorite characters survive. Raphael, Elena, and the Cadre won't be the same after this war. 

Some of the more interesting aspects of the story involve Raphael's past, as well as Bluebell's parentage. One could say that this is the culmination of the past Eleven books and from here, who knows what will happen next? Obviously, there are things that the Cadre needs to deal with. Raphael and Elena’s relationship continues to evolve and grow; their love even stronger for all they’ve been through. I adore Elena's relationship with her sisters, as well as Bluebell, Dmitri, the Guild Hunters, as well as Izzy who has become one of Elena's personal guards.

ARCHANGEL’S WAR – Nalini Singh

“We watch,” the Primary said. “We protect.”

But things were altering in front of them, a faint glow emanating from where the aeclari had been before the filaments obscured both Raphael’s body and Elena’s chrysalis.

Beyond the balcony doors now partially covered with the snow silk of the filaments, the Bluebell turned. His eyes widened at seeing the ocean of filaments, the glow. But before he could open the closed doors, a familiar voice entered all their minds.

Leave now. It was an order from an archangel. Clear the skies above. Empty the land around. GO.

The Legion were moving even as the last word echoed in their minds. They were Raphael’s Legion, Elena’s Legion, and they had been given an order. The Bluebell wasn’t Legion. He was one of the Seven. Unique. With his own mind.

Torment wrenched his features, but he inclined his head, and the Primary saw him form the word “Sire.”

All of them moved.

The Bluebell dropped to the grass, then ran inside the house.

The Legion broke into four parts and swept the area. Winged beings were already flying toward the river at high speed, their faces stark and their jaws determined. The Legion dropped down in front of cars moving on the nearest road. The cars were not so close to the aeclari’s home, but the archangel hadn’t said how far to clear.

When the first two cars halted with a screech that caused a burning scent to rise to their nostrils, the Legion wrenched the doors open and hauled the startled vampires out. A group of the Legion rose into the air, two to a vampire. Another group found four humans in a third car, a vampire’s cattle heading home. The scared cattle whimpered at being taken by the Legion but didn’t struggle. Neither did the vampires after they saw the angels racing from the Enclave to the water.

Golden light poured from the windows of the aeclari’s home.

Many of the angels streaming over the water held vampires or humans in their arms, getting their households out of danger. The Bluebell was one of the last to fly out of the Enclave, and though the Legion did not speak to many outside of the aeclari, they spoke to him: Are the aeclari’s people safe? This was important. The Legion knew. The aeclari had bonds to those who lived in the house.

Yes, I got them out. The Bluebell, who could fly faster than the Primary and sometimes raced with the cars of the Blade and the Viper, fell off the cliff with his wings licked by a golden light so bright that it was difficult to face. In one hand, he held a large rectangular thing, in his other, items they recognized.

Several of the Legion flew to him, and took the things. They did not understand things, but these were linked to the aeclari in their mind.

Most of the angels kept on flying toward Manhattan, and those of the Legion that carried vampires or mortals kept going, too. But the Primary turned once he was over the center of the river, as did those of his brethren who flew only their own bodies.

The Bluebell halted in front of them, the silvery blue of his wings spread and his face awash in the scorching light that had turned the river to gold.

And the light, it grew, and grew, and grew.

Until at last, the light was so bright that it became fire and even the Primary couldn’t bear it and threw up his arm in front of his eyes. The last thing he saw was an intense white brilliance.

#Review - Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd #Thrillers / #Psychological

Series: Cape Charade (#3)
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Publisher: HQN
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Psychological

Perfect for fans of Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd returns with the chilling finale to the Cape Charade trilogy.

I have three deadly problems:

1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.

2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.

3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she’s in the line of fire.

Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…or does it? Family time becomes terror-time, and at last, alone, Kellen faces a killer playing a cruel game. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

Strangers She Knows, by Christina Dodd, is apparently the final chapter in her Cape Charade series. I recommend that future readers read the series in order as it follows the main character Kellen Adams through a series of hair raising adventures. I haven't read the in-between novella's, so I might be a hypocrite in telling other readers to do so. However, the story will make more sense to you if you have read the others. In this episode, Kellen Adams is healing after brain surgery but things quickly escalate when Kellen's former best friend/nemesis escapes from Federal prison.

Kellen, her husband Max DiLuca, and their daughter 10 year old Rae, end up on a world wide hop, skip and jump until they land on a small island off the coast of California. The old mansion on the island has an unhappy history as we learn through a diary from a character named Ruby and the isolation and atmosphere seems to have a disturbing affect on the mental health of the current caretakers of the island who seem to hate the DiLuca's. Then, the unimaginable happens, Mara Philippi an escaped serial killer who promised to take everything away from Kellen the way she feels Kellen took everything away from her, arrives.

In this story, Kellen has three serious issues to deal with. (1) Mara who showed up at her wedding looking for a confrontation. But, Mara doesn't really understand why Kellen isn't up to her expectations after brain surgery. (2) Having a bullet from the brain is not an easy procedure and the physical therapy that is involved may be overwhelming to anyone else but Kellen who has survived some brutal situations over the course of this story and her years in the military. (3) Rae has become a handful. She had to grow up fast not knowing if her own mother would recognize her, or even love her. But, they've had their own adventures in this series. 

Overall, this may not be the strongest book in the series. The pacing in the first half is a snail pace as we have to be reminded of previous events, and watch as Kellen struggles to regain her strength and the use of her hand which includes piano lessons. It is fair to say that there is a large gap between this book and the previous one that is apparently covered in Hidden Truths. I think the author truly spent too much time with Ruby and her background on Isla Paraiso. I think it's good that this may be the final book in the series as the ending apparently shows that Kellen and family are prepared to move on to other things, literally. I hate to reign crap down on Rae's shoulders, but she is like nails on a chalkboard at time. Of course, this is a typical reaction to a youngster who lives on the internet, and must be connected to the internet and her friends 24/7.

Monday, September 23, 2019

#Review - A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth #YA #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

This stand-alone historical fantasy by Laura E Weymouth, critically acclaimed author of The Light Between Worlds, is perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood and Caraval.

A House left unchecked will lead to ruin. But I will not let it ruin me.

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six Great Houses of England, Burleigh’s magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy. That is, until her father’s treason destroyed everything.

Now she’s been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn’t what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her House—before her House destroys everything she’s ever known.

Dark, gripping, and utterly unique, this atmospheric historical fantasy from critically-acclaimed author Laura E. Weymouth balances danger and intrigue on a razor’s edge as one girl defies all to save her home and her heart.

  "A good Caretaker puts her House first. Before king. Before country. Before her own life."
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth is a fantasy YA standalone novel. Protagonist Violet Sterling once lived in Burleigh House, one of the 6 great houses in England. Due to the actions of William the Deedwinner, these houses have been bound to the throne and are tended to by hereditary Caretakers. 7 years ago, Violet was banished from her house due to her father's treasonous actions. 
While he was sentenced to house arrest only to be broken by his death, Violet was banished to a small fishing village with her caretakers Mira and Jed. 7 years later, a messenger from the King Edgar arrives with news. Violet knows her father is dead, but what about her friend Wyn who stayed behind? Violet chooses to return to the house she loves and the friend she left behind. She learns that Burleigh House has turned dark and it's destroying everything around it. 
Burleigh is its own character. It has its own personality, its little quirks, and its own feelings. The House is a rather large part of the story itself in every way. Violet is given a few months to bring Burleigh to heal, or King Edgar will burn it to the ground since it has refused every new caretaker since Violet's father passed. Violet finds some unusual help in Esperanza, Princess of Wales, who has been trying to find a way to free the Houses from Edgar's clutches. 

One of the strangest aspects of this story is Violet's love for the House. Violet was brought up by her father to love the house and its magic, to devote her life to Burleigh, especially when she is older and becomes the caretaker.  She loved everything about Burleigh to the point of obsession. After 7 years, Burleigh House is a shadow of its former glory and Wyn is haggard in appearance and doesn't want Violet to stay. He wants her to go back to her fishing village and enjoy the rest of her life.

Yeah, that's not happening. Violet and her new friends desperately try to find the hidden secret that is needed to save them all. Vi is stubborn to a fault, and is consumed with the need to put her house before anything and anyone. Even herself. Can she save the House she's loved since she was a child? Can she save the boy who she left behind with her father? Or, will the King win in the end? 

I loved Frey, the woman who knew Violet's father and offered her a chance to become a barmaid while also saving the House she loves, and the land that is slowly dying. I loved Mira and Jed who put everything they had in making sure Violet didn't go without support or love. Espie wasn't your usual stick in the butt royal who didn't give a crap about the House or Violet's attempts at fighting history. While A Treason of Thorns might not be one of my an all time favorite, I would not tell anyone to stay away from the story.

Friday, September 20, 2019

#Review - Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker #YA #Fantasy

Series: Seafire #2
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

The second book in a heart-stopping trilogy that follows the captain of an all-female ship intent on taking down a vicious warlord’s powerful fleet.

Caledonia may have lost her crew, but she’s not done fighting yet. After nearly dying at the hand of a powerful foe, Caledonia is pulled from the sea and nursed back to health by a crew of former Bullets that call themselves Blades. The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and now live a nomadic existence, ready to disappear at a moment’s notice should trouble come their way.

But Caledonia wants to do more than just hide. She wants to find the Mors Navis and her beloved sisters. She wants to continue fighting Aric’s fleet and to take back the Bullet seas. She’ll need to do everything in her power to convince the Blades that fighting is their only option, that there has to be a life better than the one under Aric Athair’s reign, and that finding the women of the Mors Navis is the first step to revolution.

Steel Tide is the second installment in author Natalie C. Parker's Seafire trilogy. Steel Tide opens almost immediately where Seafire ended. Caledonia Styx threw herself overboard after being impaled on a Bullet Ship’s spire by Fiveson Lir who has been playing a long game against Caledonia for years. Caledonia is helped back to health by former Bullets, now known as Blades. They claim to have escaped from Aric's hold somehow and they now live in a small community, mostly keeping to themselves.

The Blades, led by Sledge, Pine, and Triple, nurses her back to health. Separated from her sisters who probably think she's dead, Caledonia must win over a new band of characters and reunite with her crew who should have headed for freedom via the net. After allying herself with the Blades, Caledonia decides to take the Collection ship from Aric Athair. What she learns is stunning. One, Lir is still after Caledonia and doesn't believe she died. The second is even worse. Her ship and sisters have been captured and taken to the dreaded Slipmark where Bullet's are made and addicted to drugs.

Caledonia makes a deal with the Pine, Triple & Sledge. They help her get her crew back and she'll help them get through the net to safety. After several close calls and some eye wide open surprises concerning a character known as Steelhand (No, I will not tell you who this person is!), Caledonia, with some help from tertiary characters as well as Nettie, are reunited with her sisters. There is some real hurt feelings towards Caledonia. But, before they can feel like they've won and can leave the net as planned, Caledonia makes another decision that leads her to make a huge stand along with her sisters and her new Blade friends. 

She will have to make a choice; pick up and run, or stand and fight with some really interesting new toys. (No spoilers!) Caledonia finally has to face the man who rules this world; Aric Athair, but Lir is not too far behind. There is so much going on in this book that it is hard to stay focused on not revealing everything that happens. Caledonia becomes a new character. One much stronger, and more determined to lead her allies to a better life and future without the Bullets, especially Lir.  The ending is truly stunning. So much so that I am eager to see where the author sends Caledonia and her allies when all is said and done.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

#Review - Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis #YA #Fantasy

Series: Knights of the Realm #1
Format: Ebook, 270 pages
Release Date: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Reign Publishing
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Realm of Knights is the first installment in author Jennifer Anne Davis' Knights of the Realm series. 18-year old Reid Ellington lives in the land of Marsden where women have no rights, nor can they inherit land from their fathers. They are basically cannon fodder for political reasons. Reid is the youngest daughter of 5 who has to play the part of a man until one of her married sisters has a son. Reid has spent 18 years hiding the fact that she was born female so that Duke Ellington's land stays in the family. 

In Marsden, lying about your identity is punishable by death. What's worse is that Reid is getting to that age where it’s obvious that she is not a boy, even by those who grew up with her. Trouble soon arrives in the form of Prince Gordon and Prince Ackley who demand that the Duke provide them with 500 soldiers to protect the border from incursions. They realize almost immediately that Reid is a girl, but instead of exposing her and charging her father with treason, they ask her to serve the realm and in doing so, she can earn a pardon for her father for lying to the king. 

As a female who was trained in combat, the young princes believe her to be the perfect person to spy on the neighboring nation since she can "pass" as both male and female. Reid, in trying to do what's right and prove herself the pardon for her father, ends up involved in a family squabble. Ackley claims that his Uncle Henrick, who rules over Axian, is after the Marsden crown which his brother Eldon currently holds. After passing several challenges put forth for Reid to join the exclusive Realm of Knights, she finds yet more trouble. King Eldon, not knowing that Reid is a member of Ackley's Realm of Knights, is sent to Axian to steal something that is supposed to hold a life changing secret. 

Thanks in part to Princess Idina and some blackmail, comes out in public as Lady Reid Ellington. She gets to experience what life as a woman in Marsden and Axian really means. Reid finds that Axian is a place where she should be living, not Marsden where women have no rights and no freedoms. In Axian, Reid meets the so called enemies who are not what they seem. Axian isn't a country preparing for war. Axian is a country that appears to be thriving. In fact, almost all of the family seems rather friendly to Reid except for one. Are they for real? Or, are they playing a game Reid as a pawn in a deadly game? 

I liked Reid just fine. I would have liked the author to show more of her skills as someone who was trained in combat, but it's early in the series, right? I totally blame her situation on the fact that her father refused to remarry after his wife died thus leaving Reid to shoulder all the responsibility of being her fathers heir. In reality, I do believe that he loves his daughter unconditionally as is shown later in the story. There's so many things that need to be uncovered. 

I would have liked a wee bit more world building in order to suss out this world. Is Ackley really who he pretends to be, and not just another hurdle for Reid to jump over?  The question really is, who is the true antagonist, and who is not what they seem? If Ackley actually cared about Reid as he claims, why then stand silent when she is ordered to do the King's bidding? Not sure if I am all in on the suspected romance between Reid and Gordon.

However, yes, I will continue with this series since I trust this author and the stories that she writes. I loved her Reign of Secrets series, but need to finish reading the final (2) installments in the series.