Friday, May 7, 2021

#Review - Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price #YA #Mystery

Series: Jane Austen Murder Mysteries # 1
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Mysteries 

Three of Jane Austen’s classic novels receive a murder mystery makeover in this romantic and thrilling three-book series that’s perfect for fans of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and Stalking Jack the Ripper. In Pride and Premeditation, aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet attempts to solve a murder case while fighting off feelings for her rival Mr. Darcy.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman who desires a law career must be in want of a case. So when a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old Lizzie Bennet sees the perfect opportunity to prove herself as a formidable solicitor—despite the fact that women are only allowed in court as witnesses.

Unfortunately for Lizzie, the man accused of the crime already has a fledgling lawyer on his side: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir training to take over the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates. Convinced the authorities have blamed the wrong person, Lizzie vows to steal Darcy’s client and solve the murder so that she can earn a position of her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”


Pride and Premeditation is the first installment in author Tirzah Price's Jane Austen Murder Mystery series. This is the first in a series of books reimagining Austen classics, and will be followed by Sense and Second-Degree Murder and Manslaughter Park. All three books will focus on Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet as the main character. Lizzie Bennet has always been a spitfire, but readers will love this new twist where she must deal even more explicitly with the issue of being female in a man’s world. Pride and Premeditation is the retelling of Pride and Prejudice, of course!

While the plot has changed, fan favorite characters and relationships remain, from the infuriating Mr. Collins to flighty Mrs. Bennet and of course a swoon-worthy yet stubborn Mr. Darcy. However, all of them are cast in a new light, given the fresh story line. Lizzie Bennett is the second oldest daughter of Mr. Bennett with Jane being the oldest. She works for  Longbourn and Sons law firm as an unofficial accountant and assistant. Lizzie longs to prove herself to her father, as well as making sure that the bumbling junior partner Mr. Collins stops taking credit for her work.

Determined she will one day be a barrister, she implores Mr Bennet to employ her as a solicitor, and is told she needs to find her own case and prove herself first. So, after she hears about a man named Charles Bingley being charged with murder, Lizzie is determined to acquit Mr. Bingley and at the same time convince her father that she is a worthy addition to his law firm. She charges ahead full speed in hopes of proving herself worthy of becoming her father's heir. 

While at Newgate Prison, Lizzie meets Bingley's paid solicitor, Fitzwilliam Darcy who is a lawyer for the Pemberly and Associates law firm. Pemberly just happens to be the most renowned firm in all of England. Darcy is not only dismissive but also insulting towards her. Thankfully, Bingley isn't so arrogant not to take the help when it's offered.

“Do you purposefully misunderstand everything I say, Miss Bennet?”
“Do you purposefully overlook all inconvenient truths, Mr. Darcy?”

Lizzie must jump over hurdles, including those of her own mother who demands that she marries, in order to solve the mystery that may set her on a path to self-determination. Lizzie loves to remind her father that the only way to get his attention is by using Aristotle's methods of persuasion:


Ethos could be called ‘credibility’ or ‘ethical appeal’. Here, the character of the author itself is a persuasive factor: people tend to believe and follow those whom they respect. To be successful at this, the writer has to project the impression to the reader that he or she is someone worth listening to, an authority on the subject of the writing, but also someone who is likeable and worthy of respect. 


Pathos appeals to the reader's emotions to effect change. Emotion means that we involve what’s been called the ‘limbic system’, that part of a human being’s make up which isn’t entirely rational but rather is instinctive. 


Logos means persuading by the use of reasoning, hence ‘logical’. This was Aristotle's favorite - it was after all the form of persuasion used by him to try to persuade us about persuasion - and it breaks down into deductive and inductive reasoning. Logic relies on definitions, analogies, comparisons, parallel cases. Testimonies or authorities and the views of experts play a part as well as statistics.

While the mystery was easily solvable by the reader, you could easily have fingered any number of individuals. The relationship between Lizzie and Darcy is pretty much everything you expect. There's conflict, there's ongoing banter on who will be the first to solve the mystery. And, of course, there is a long drawn out hint of romance that ends the story. The bad is that except for Jane and Lydia, Lizzie's youngest sisters are mostly kept in the background and not really serious participators in the story. 

Reviewers are talking about Charlotte Lucas who is a mixed raced female who is Mr. Bennett's secretary. The attention is given because the author chose to add a woman of color to the story who actually has a really good job, but little opportunities to marry someone of standing. Lizzie also has a heart of gold when it comes to street urchins. In fact, she uses several of them on a regular basis to provide her with street information that is very useful to her case.


Thursday, May 6, 2021

#Review - King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo #YA #Fantasy

Series: King of Scars Duology (#1) 
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Gifted
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Face your demons... or feed them.

The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don't know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.

Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honing her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary—and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.

Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.

Ravka's king. Ravka's general. Ravka's spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren't meant to heal.

King of Scars is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's King of Scars Duology. King of Scars splits perspectives between three main characters – Zoya, Nina and Nikolai. If you haven’t read the Shadow and Bone trilogy or the Six Of Crows duology, you'll likely find yourself asking about possible spoilers in my review. Sorry! The Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and The Language of Thorns—with more to come. The story takes place 3 years after the events in Ruin and Rising. The country of Revka is still in crisis and now they’re on the verge of a new civil war which could destroy them. 

Nikolai Lantsov is trying to restore the former glory of Ravka but not many people are willing to follow a young King who some believe is illegitimate. He might’ve survived the war, and the torture at the hands of the Darkling, but he’s still battling the darkness that is starting to grow stronger with each day. People are still fearful of Grisha and are capturing and killing them regularly. Grisha are also still becoming addicted to jurda parem, and many different variations of it, which enhances their powers but at a cost. Nikolai and Zoya travel back to the Fold where bad things happened, but perhaps they can find an answer to curing Nikolai of his darkness.

"Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal" 

Nina Zenik, along with Adrik, and Leoni, is on a secret mission to Fjerda to help emigrant Grisha's who’re confused about their powers. She knows very well the dangers of parem, and what it does to Grisha. If you forgot who Nina is, she's a legendary Grisha, a heart render, and an unrepentant killer twisted by parem. She who would love to get revenge on Jarl Brum and his Grisha witch hunt. Nina is taunted with phantoms of the beloved dead. She meets someone who may play a huge part in her future; a Grisha living in secret keeping her abilities hidden from her own family.

Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honing her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary—and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come. Zoya is one of the strongest Grisha's ever (Squaller, of the Etherealki Order) and is an incredible fighter and leader. She was also the Darkling’s favorite until she chose to help Alina. Zoya is a character who does not trust in love, and seeing her consider letting someone back in was heart-wrenching. Zoya and Nikolai meet three new characters who I shan't spoil since they play a huge part in what happens to Zoya and her amazing new powers.

Some other names you'll likely recognize play important parts in this story: Genya Safin used to be the servant to the Queen, and was treated so very terribly. She is much happier now, but still is living with the torture that the Darkling inflicted upon her. David Kostyk is a very skilled Fabrikator who helped make things to hold amplifiers. Tolya Yul-Bataar & Tamar Kir-Bataar are Twin Grisha's who help guard Nikolai. Isaak is the common solider who will impersonate Nikolai while he is away with a young Priest named Yuri who is part of the cult known as Cult of the Starless who pray to the Darkling. 

My favorite character is Zoya. Nina has a long road ahead of her, while Nikolai apparently is being left behind. If you are wondering why so many of us are talking about the ending, read the book! If you thought you had issues with the Six of Crows duology, just wait! I dare say that it was a shocking way to the end book. Thankfully, this series is a duology and you won't have to wait for long; Especially if you read the books together!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

#Review - Fated by Katerina Martinez #Fantasy #Romance

Series: The Coldest Fae # 4
Format: E-Book, 175 pages
Release Date: April 26, 2021
Publisher: Supernal Publishing
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

To save Arcadia, I must fly into the heart of the storm

There's a prophecy that the white wolf will save Arcadia from the clutches of a terrible storm.

I am the white wolf, but even I'm having trouble believing the prophecy.

The former Prince Radulf is meant to be dead, but he's not. His spirit has taken possession of Prince Cillian's body, and if that wasn't bad enough, whatever soul bond the Prince and I had is gone.

The only way to re-forge my bond with the Prince is to win the Royal Selection, but the city of Windhelm thinks I'm a murderer, and may outright kill me as soon as I walk through their gates.

It's a chance I'm going to have to take, because if I fail, then it won't just be Arcadia that falls, but so will Earth once the armies of winter come crashing through portals like avalanches.

Fated, by author Katerina Martinez, is the fourth and final installment in the authors The Coldest Fae series. Dahlia decides to return to Windhelm in order to save Prince Cillian who has been possessed by his brother Rudolf. In order to save Cillian, however, she must do her best to win the Royal Selection competition. A competition which will test her new skills as the White Wolf, and whether or not she's the one who can stop the Veridian from bringing along the dreaded Wenlow with it. The issue? She's still wanted for murder.

As Dahlia arrives, she learns that there are 6 girls remaining for the Selection including her nemesis Mareen who is odds on favorite to win thanks to the Royals and Council being on her side. Because the Council believes she's guilty of murder, she's restricted to her room, and watched over by a being called a Ulhan which is supposed to keep her in line. Dahlia quickly learns that there is something really, really wrong at Windhelm, and that the Veridian is using its dark influence to hold Dahlia back from actually winning. 

What's more, Rudolf actually doesn't seem like a villain, but a man who was thrust into a bad situation not of his doing. What's lost in the shuffle, is the new allies that Dahlia made in the previous book are missing. You could say that all but two of them vanish and are not seen until the end of the story. Another bad thing is that the three women who helped raise Dahlia, are also all but forgotten except when they want to blackmail Dahlia into behaving or else.

While there is enough action, betrayal, suspense, and romance to satisfy, the ending seems forced, quick and lacking. It would have been a great series if the last book of the series was written with more details.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

#Review - Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee #YA #Paranormal #Supernatural

Series: Ember of the Night # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural

Perfect for fans of Hush Hush, this epic angels-and-demons YA series combines all the best tropes of the genre: pulse-pounding romance, epic worldbuilding, and plenty of twists and turns.

Harley Locke is no stranger to darkness, but when the irresistibly hot and broody new guy crashes into her world, she isn't sure she'll survive him.

She has days before she turns 18 and can take her kid-sister and escape their volatile home life, and she'll do anything to protect her—including accepting her supernatural heritage that has every demon in Chicago chomping after her rare blood.

Draven Reid has spent the better part of a century searching for the Key to opening the Gates of Hell so he can rescue his wrongfully imprisoned twin brother, and he's prepared to shed blood to do it. But soon the person he's prepared his whole life to kill turns out to be the one person who makes him feel alive.

Dodging an abusive father, demons prepared to drain her dry, and a newly formed love that may be the death of her, Harley will have to decide on her own what's worth saving: the world that has done nothing but chew her up and spit her out, or the boy whose stolen her heart, but has a blade with her name on it.

Ember of Night is the first installment in author Molly E. Lee's Ember of Night series. Harley Ward is counting the days until she turns 18 and can leave the unhappy home she shares with her little sister and abusive father. Harley hides her bruises from her boss at work, her best friend Kai, while training in Krav Maga with her High School Coach Hale. Thanks to working full time at Nathan's Deli, she's slowly saved up enough money to finally be able to put a down payment on her own place.
One could say that the relationship between Harley and her sister Ray is the most beautiful thing you will find about this story. She literally stands in the path of pain just so Ray doesn't get in the way of her father's abuse. Then she meets Draven. As the story opens, Draven, it seems, has been sent to stop the apocalypse and Harley is fated to play a key role in it. Draven believes that Harley is the Key, something ancient and powerful, which will soon surface and create major chaos. 
The prologue gives us a bit of insight to who and what Draven actually is, and let’s just say, he’s not human. The first thing he notices about Harley is that she's wound up tight and is hyper aware of her surroundings. Even with her alleged best friend Kai around, Harley is not the kind of girl who needs saving. She plans to save herself and her sister from whatever comes their way. When unexplained things start happening with mysterious beings seeming to have it out for Harley, she faces the tough decisions of whether she'll be the hunter or the prey.
Normal human beings don't notice the minions of Hell, so why can Harley? What makes her so special that every sort of Demon imaginable wants to sip of her blood? Could Harley be the answer to a major demons plans to escape from Hell? And, what part will Draven play when all is said and done? Harley's journey is quite a struggle. There are people around her who actually care, and there are those who are using her to get what they want. 
As I stated above, the most beautiful part of this story is how protective and driven Harley is to protect Ray from danger. Even though they are half sisters, Ray is special. She's an artist who Harley helps get into a special school. She writes manga which is pretty impressive. And, she truly believes Harley is a super heroine. Unfortunately for Harley, she has a tough, hard road ahead of herself after that freaking ending and a betrayal that you could see coming from Pluto. The publisher and author have plans to release the second installment later this year. How many books in the series? Unknown. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

#Review - Bone Crier's Dawn by Kathryn Purdie #YA #Fantasy

Series: Bone Grace # 2
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

Ailesse and her friends change the afterlife in the gripping conclusion to the fantasy duology that began with Bone Crier’s Moon from New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Purdie—perfect for fans of Stephanie Garber and Roshani Chokshi.

Love is a matter of life and death.

Bone Criers have been ferrying the dead into the afterlife for centuries, a dangerous duty only possible with the powers they gain from sacrificing their amourés, the men destined to love them and die. But Bone Criers Ailesse and Sabine—along with Ailesse’s love, Bastien—are working to chart their own course and rewrite the rules of the afterlife. If they don’t break the soul bond between Ailesse and her amouré, she could die—just as Bastien’s father did.

Sabine struggles to maintain her authority as matrone of her famille—the role always destined for her sister—even as she fights to control the violent jackal power within her.

Bastien is faced with a new dilemma as the spirits of the Underworld threaten the souls of his friends—and his father.

Ailesse attempts to resist her mother’s siren song as she’s drawn into her own version of the Underworld. How will she save her friends once she’s cut off from their world?

This pulse-pounding follow-up to Bone Crier’s Moon is a story of love, sisterhood, and determination as three friends find the courage and power to shatter the boundary between the living and the dead.


Bone Crier's Dawn is the second installment in author Kathryn Purdie's Bone Grace duology. The story begins where Boon Crier's Bone finished. Sabine and Bastien are working to free Ailesse from Prince Casimir, while the dead wreak havoc on the living. The story has three distinct narrators: Ailesse, Bastien, and Sabine who offer different insights into their world and leave something for every reader to love, whether they’re shy, cunning, or brash. Even though Prince Casimir isn't considered to be a main character, you would be remiss in ignoring his role in this story which is why I love the three POV's. 

Also, while this story does have three POVs, the driving conflict isn’t a love triangle, which will be a breath of fresh air for readers tired of the trope. Bone Criers have been ferrying the dead into the afterlife for centuries, a dangerous duty only possible with the powers they gain from sacrificing their amourés, the men destined to love them and die. But Ailesse and Sabine—along with Bastien—are working to chart their own course and rewrite the rules of the afterlife. If they don’t break the soul bond between Ailesse and her amouré, she could die—just as Bastien’s father did. 

Ailesse is soul bound to Casimir who got caught up in something he had no control over. Now he's trying to make the best of a bad situation. I think most audiences love a doomed romance, and there’s nothing more dramatic than soulmates destined to kill each other—with the added backdrop of a lush French gothic setting. In this story, however, Bastien is a disappointment with his constant pining for Ailesse. Everything about his character from the previous book disappeared, except for his adoration of Ailesse. That's the problem with their romance. 

When you have an enemies to lovers, at least keep SOME enemies in there. As with the first book, Bastien's best friends, Jules and Marcel, once again provide depth to the series. Especially Jules. Ailesse and Sabine were set at odds when Sabine was named matrone by their mother; the very title Ailesse was working so hard for in the first book. Even though they are at odds, they are still sisters, and sisters don't normally leave their loved ones behind when they both were given a shock of their lives with the revelation provided that they are both blood.  

Ailesse faces many interpersonal trials throughout this book, and it's interesting if not a little difficult to watch her grow through them. But it's Sabine who ends up with the short stick for most of the story. At 16, she's been thrust into a leadership position which she never wanted and also learned who her real parents are. It was always supposed to be Ailesse who was matrone but shenanigans ensued. Sabine's trials are mostly internal, but she has people who don't trust her in her own famille. She has much thrust on her that she was unprepared for, including find a way to defeat a God. 

As she struggles with insecurities and self doubt, she also struggles to maintain her title as matrone. At a time when she should be finding her way and discovering who she is, she's forced into fighting evil incarnate. There's the obvious sister development between Ailesse and Sabine, but there's also a moment where all the Bone Criers have to come together in sisterhood to save the day.

I found it interesting at how the story ends. No, I will not spoil it. I will say that everything you thought might happened, was thrown out the door and rewritten. One could legitimately call this Jules redemption after her antics of the first installment. She also does something remarkably brave and heroic which ends up turning the tides for our heroines. It is fair to say the reasoning for my rating is the slowness of this story. Nothing really happens until almost 50% of the book has been read. The final chapters were the best, Ailesse's chapters were the best, Bastien's were the worse, and Sabine picks up the pieces with her character growth towards the end of this story.

Friday, April 30, 2021

#Review - The Underworld Library by Laura Bickle #Dark Fantasy

Series: Hellbrary # 1
Format: E-Book, 3024 pages
Release Date: March 31, 2021
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Horror

Whoever possesses the Great Library of the Underworld rules Hell itself…and threatens the destiny of both the Heavens and Earth. 

The Great Library contains the most deadly magic tomes penned since the beginning of time. This magic is both wondrous and terrible, kept under lock and key by witch-librarians serving the king of the Underworld. 

Eve is one of those faithful librarians. She doesn’t recall her life prior to the Hellbrary, and unlike her fellow Hellbrarians, she has very little magic to speak of. When a dangerous book is stolen, she must recover it with the help of a Gorgon librarian, a hellhound, and a mysterious shapeshifting royal envoy. This daemon, Azarr, has a serpent tongue and the heart of a man – can he be trusted?

King Caldrius’s court has fallen under siege. Caldrius’s cruel son, Ral, has returned from exile with an army to assassinate his father. But his father’s crown alone does not guarantee Ral the throne. He needs the library, and he will take it by force. His ambitions don’t end with the Hellbrary – he means to take Earth and the Heavens beyond. 

Eve knows there’s only one way to defeat Ral: they must use the recovered book to awaken the Queen of the Witches. Caldrius imprisoned Viridia millennia ago when she grew too powerful to control. Then, he offered the witches a choice: serve him or die. They served, until now…but will awakening Viridia summon an evil greater than Ral? 

Time is running out, and all the forces the Underworld must unite to wage war for the library and control of all of existence. 

The Underworld Library, by author Laura Bickle, is the first installment in the authors Hellbrary series. The story begins with Ral, Prince of the Dark Palace, son of Caldrius, King of the Underworld, in a place called Nothingness or the Salt Desert where men and women from Earth end up after they die. Ral was sent there as a punishment because he is pure evil. Now, he has a plan. His plan begins by escaping from the Hatyx Sisters (Hate, Fear, and Wrath) then making an alliance with the Cix and the Blood Ilk who may have access to a powerful weapon called the Spark.

If he can convince the Cix (who are basically vampires) of his intentions of removing Caldrius and taking his place, then find a weapon of unbelievable power, he will have a near unstoppable army behind him to remove his family from power and take the Great Library and its immense power for himself.

Eve Douglass has been working at the Great Library of Hell (Hellbrary) which was created by Caldrius for 2 years. Unlike her colleagues, she has no memories of the before. She only has bits and pieces and memory flashes that she tends to write down so that she can attempt to put the pieces together. She has two cats who she can understand. Yes, the Hellbrarians are able to speak to animals and nearly every other language including Akkadian.

Eve's friends and colleagues at the Hellbrary include Volach, who does a really good impression of being a good dog, Meissa's, gargoyles who all have the same names, Sotris, her boss, and Stanna, who by all indications could be Medusa with her 3 snakes. She's also a witch. There is some suggestion that something bad happened to Eve or that she was a witch or that someone too her memories away because of something that happened before the Underworld.

Things get hairy when a demon named Azarr, daemon to Caldrius, shows up with a badly burned messenger moth with a message that the library needs to retrieve a dangerous book immediately. Normally, the Overdue Book Collection Squad is sent out on the most dangerous missions to retrieve books. But not this time. There are very few books not in the custody of the Great Library. Most are controlled by the Library in the Heavens, and there are only a handful lost in between. The Book of Dreams is one of them. 

After learning about the dangerous book, Caldrius tasks Azarr to join the quest to retrieve the book and bring it back to Special Collections. If he is successful, he will be freed from his millennia service to the King. Eve, Azarr, Volach, and Stanna go on a risky mission to collect the book, only to be thrown into a war to save the Library from Ral and his allies.

Princess Thalla of the Dark Palace is the youngest daughter of Caldrius. She was born without the ability to speak. Instead she talks through a raven called Eco who is connected to her. Thalla hates Tal but she loves her older brother Gerint who treats her with respect and not a play thing to be tortured. Her mother, Llythria, Queen of the Heavens was lured away by Caldrius. But Thalla's world is tipped upside down with Ral and his Cix attack the Dark Palace leaves her as the only survivor. 

This story ends on a wild cliffhanger ending with witches joining in the battle against Ral and the Cix including a woman who was put to sleep by Caldrius, Viridia. There are so many questions that need to be answered starting with how Eve ended up in the Underworld, and what really happened to her that she is unable to remember her time before she came here 2 years ago. There is also Thalla to think about and no, I am not a fan of spoilers. She, unfortunately, only has one ally, and that person has his own story to tell. If I had to give a brief summary of this book, I'd say legends and myths come together in one place to fight to save a Library that is under attack by a evil villain who has no care about how many people he destroys.  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

#Review - Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker #1) by Victoria Aveyard #Fantasy #YA

Series: Realm Breaker # 1
Format: Hardcover, 576 pages
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

Realm Breaker is the first installment in author Victoria Aveyard's new trilogy by the same name. If you've watched or read Lords of the Rings, this series should be for you. This story is packed with action, betrayal, and twists you won't see coming. It is an epic fantasy novel with a rather large cast of characters. The story begins with Andry Trelland who is a squire in the service to a knight who has joined a group called the companions of the realm. The companions quickly find themselves outnumber and massacred by one of the main villains of the story who is looking to tear open the realm to his master and allow all sorts of dangerous creatures to enter the world.
Corayne an-Amarat aka the smuggler's daughter is the second character introduced. Corayne's mother Meliz an-Amarat is a pirate who trusts her daughter's well being to others while she's kept Cora's father's name a secret. Corayne has always dreamed of the sea, of seeking the horizon, but her mother has always said no. After meeting with Dom and Sorasa, Corayne learns that her father was one of those who was lost his life in the battle at the beginning of this book. A father that she never met but somehow she is expected to be the last remaining descendant of his bloodline and wield his spindleblade. No pressure!
Domacridhan of Iona is an immortal or Vederan trying to avenge a broken promise. He, like Andry, was at the massacre at the beginning of this story and is only alive because he is immortal. Until Dom meets with Corayne, his only ally is Princess Ridha of Iona who goes on her own quest hoping to find allies to help Dom against the villains of this story. Dom realizes that Cora is like her father, restless and searching for something. Meanwhile, Dom's people are cowards and their only focus is finding a way home to Glorian which has been cut off from them.
Sorasa Sarn is an assassin of the Amhara, legend of the shadows, who has been exiled by her Lord Mercury. After meeting with Dom, Sorasa helps him search for any remaining Cor blood mortals who remain. The sons and daughters of Cor are all but extinct. Except for two. One of them being Corayne and the other being her diabolical and evil uncle Taristan. Sorasa has a rather large target that she is trying to avoid. She's made plenty of enemies, but has the skill set to survive and escape from most places.
Erida is Queen of Galland. After her knights were massacred leaving only Andry to live, Erida doesn't believe the story that Andry claims happens. She makes it known that everything she does is for power, including marrying the villain of this series and trying to stop Corayne and her group from being successful in shuttering the spindles which have unleashed armies of beings that haven't been seen in ages. 
Valtik is the strangest character in Corayne's allies. She's the sorceress who uses twisted riddles to get her message across. She's the one who advises Sorasa that the quest needs seven people to be successful. Trelland is a forger with a secret past. Sigil is a a bounty hunter with a score to settle. The team of seven is the only force that stands between the invincible Taristan and his mission to conquer all worlds and watch them burn. Taristan recruits some formidable allies that make the company's mission to stop them seem insurmountable. 
Realm Breaker is set in a world called Allward that, at one time, was the crossroads for travel between other worlds. The portals that were used by travelers are called spindles. Once upon a time, Cora's ancestors were spindleborn, children of a lost realm who are slowly dying out. One of the repercussions of losing the spindles is that there are groups of people in the Aveyard’s world who actually came from another world, and are cut off from their ancestral home, who age differently that regular humans. Elders or Vedera are considered immortal in Allward, although it is quickly established that an Elder can receive sufficient damage to be killed. We see a lot of different countries and kingdoms through out the book, from deserts to green oceans to stinking cities. 
As with the authors previous trilogy, the author leaves this story on a cliffhanger. If everything goes well, the next books will release over the next 2 years.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

#Review - Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller #YA #Fantasy

Series: Bladesmith # 1
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

In the first book in Tricia Levenseller's exciting new YA fantasy duology, a teenage blacksmith with social anxiety is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she's ever made.

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims' secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractedly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely. 

Blade of Secrets is the first installment in author Tricia Levenseller's Bladesmith duology. Eighteen-year-old Ziva Tellion prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her. She is known for being the only magical smitty in existence and her Zivan blades are legendary. People come from all over the world seeking out her weapons. The bulk of her customers are mercenaries, sellswords, and fighters for hire. But things are going to quickly change for Ziva and her younger sister. Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord named Kymora Avedin. Kymora was once the King's General and now has her own army. She is powerful and deadly. After Ziva sees a gorgeous man walking by her shop, she ends up putting her emotions into the broadsword she built.  

She ends up creating a Sword of Secrets. The most powerful magical sword ever known. One of the many sword’s magical abilities is that with a drop of blood, the sword and the swordbearer will know your secrets and your intent. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister, Temra, and leaves everything behind. Joined by a Kellyn Derinor, a mercenary, motivated by the money Ziva can pay and the offer of a custom weapon, and a young scholar named Petrik with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a way to destroy it entirely. The problem is that nobody betrays Kymora and gets away with it. 

So, the four end up hightailing it from place to place trying to stay away from the high bounties placed on Ziva's head. Ziva will do anything to protect Temra. This is a bit of a quest novel, except they are trying to outrun someone rather than find something. A lot of the book is spent as the four main characters are on the road, trying to find someplace safe to stay, as well as discover some way that Ziva might be able to destroy or hide her powerful weapon. It is also a beautiful thing seeing how the sisters get along. Temra is a free spirit, social butterfly and well able to protect herself and Ziva with both blade and her wits. She has always been at the forefront trying to protect her older sister who raised them after their parents were murdered. 

Ziva's social anxiety is presented very authentically throughout the book. It’s not a feature of the story, and yet it does effect every part of the book. It’s a very powerful part of the book and the way Ziva thinks, reacts and guards herself is a genuine reflection of her anxiety. Ziva's conflict/affection for Kellyn is something new for Ziva. Even though they start out at odds and often argue, as they journey together, Ziva learns a little more about his motives and history and continually surprises herself with how her feelings change towards Kellyn. I dare say that there are two romances in this book and it will be interesting to see if either pans out. 

The good and the bad. 1. The book ends on a cliffhanger. 2. This is only a duology which means that we shouldn't have to wait 2 years to find out a resolution to Ziva's story and what happens next.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#Review - Incognito by Katie Delahanty #YA #Dystopian #Thrillers

Series: Keystone (#2)
Format: Paperback, 334 pages
Release Date: May 3rd 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Thrillers

In the virtual utopia of the Simulation, everyone will live peacefully and without fear or needs—at least that’s how they’re selling it. But the government plans to use this program to take control of the entire human race. Elisha Dewitt has just been given her first mission to help prevent this, and she’s ready to prove she can go incognito just as well as any other master thief.

Breaking and entering? No sweat. She’s done worse. Stealing a cassette tape from the museum vaults will be easy—in, out, done—until he shows up...and everything gets way more complicated. Garrett Alexander just has that effect.

Nothing is as it seems, and a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse begins with Garrett, her rival and match in every way. Not knowing who she can trust, Elisha decides it’s up to her to rescue everyone—even Garrett—before the world as she knows it comes to a brutal end.


Incognito is the second installment in author Katie Delahanty's Keystone series. This is a series set in a far off future. This is a society divided into factions such as Corporates, Influencers, Laborers, Unrankables followed by the Disconnects who are of the lowest order. Keystone, who Elisha Dewitt formerly Ella Karman belongs to, are all Disconnected from the world. They intentionally cover and mark their faces so that facial recognition doesn't catch them. Their main mission is to steal analog history and to preserve the truth corporations and governments are trying to hide or alter forever.  

Elisha has a gift of superior intuition which is what led her to Keystone in the first place. At the end of Keystone, Elisha was given her first solo mission by Professor Allard to steal a cassette tape from the Andy Warhol Time Capsule Museum in Pittsburgh. Breaking and entering? No sweat. She’s done worse. Breaking into a nearly impossible museum with state of the art security will get a bit more complicated. Especially when Garrett Alexander shows up and tosses everything out the window. Garrett tends to unnerve Elisha at times. He literally left her stranded in a tree house 5 months ago. 

In the virtual utopia of the Simulation created by Simon Technologies, everyone will live peacefully and without fear or needs—at least that’s how they’re selling it. But the government plans to use this program to take control of the entire human race. help prevent this, and she’s ready to prove she can go incognito just as well as any other master thief. Nothing is as it seems, and a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse begins with Garrett, her rival and match in every way. Not knowing who she can trust, Elisha decides it’s up to her to rescue everyone—even Garrett—before the world as she knows it comes to a brutal end.  

Thankfully for Elisha, she has a core of friends (Rayelle, Stewart, and Sophia) who are strong in their own talents which make them a great team. This is a good thing since there are those who are uniquely interested in Elisha and her brain which could be key to the so called Super Brain. So, off the crew goes to Stanford where things get interesting. I'll stop here by saying that there are lots of twists in the final chapters of this book. Characters truly prove who they are loyal to. Other characters reveal a shocking truth that leaves the book in a wicked cliffhanger ending. I am looking forward the sequel. There are so many questions that need to be answered, and the shenanigans between Elisha and Garrett need to be sorted out.