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Book Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Entangled Publishing: Teen, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen/Fantasy

Plot: Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.

Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on…well, just about anything.

But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.

Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right…

Opinion:

Goblins, dwarves, griffins, dragons, curses, witches, magic, Princes, Princesses, KISSES!

Oh my word, it MUST be another fairytale!

But NO! It isn’t! It’s BETTER than JUST another fairytale. This is the tale that puts all those other stories of fairies and….tales…to rest! ENOUGH of those sputtering damsels in distress. Poison apple this, lost slipper that! “But It can all be cured by TWU WUV’S FIRST KISS!”

LADIES! Get a HANDLE on yourselves!

HONESTLY!

By the seventh day of constant agony, I wished I hadn’t already killed the dwarf who cast this locking curse on me. I wanted the opportunity to kill him again. Slower this time.”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

In Ivy’s world, the ones with royal blood are the ones that fight on the front lines of battle. With the four kingdoms in a five-hundred-year battle against the Evil Queen and her dark forces, the need for royal warriors is in high demand. A partnership between a Prince and Princess is a force to be reckoned with, but the kiss that a Princess can bestow on a Prince is even stronger. Each kiss can heal a Prince of a curse put on them by a troll or dwarf, and it can also give the Princes the warrior power of ten men. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger the kiss and magic. As Ivy is a direct descendant of the original Queen Myriana, her kisses are the most powerful. But with the death of her fifth Prince, Ivy must find another partner to go into battle with. Enter, Zach. Zach is unlike any Prince Ivy has ever met, and to say he is unorthodox is an understatement. Soon Zach and Ivy are given a dangerous task that holds every kingdom’s fate in their hands, but Zach refuses to kiss Ivy or cooperate with her in any way. With two very different outlooks, these two must come together to defeat a common enemy.

A prince that won’t kiss a princess?!? Color me SHOCKED and SPEECHLESS, and heavy on the sarcasm! 😉

Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

So where this story differs from our regularly scheduled fairytale programs, is that these Princes and Princesses are bred to be warriors. Literally. Princesses are sent to a place called Frieda to be paired with Princes and produce strong royals to be trained for war. Once a Prince or Princess has gone through training, they are bonded with a partner who matches their skillset or power. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger they are. In this story, the Princesses are the real heroes. As the Princes charge into battle, the Princesses stay back an act as their eyes and ears; firing at anything that gets close to their Princes. If a prince goes down, their bonded Princess gives them a healing kiss and saves their lives. But these Princesses can kick ass too! They train just as hard as the Princes, and I love it!

Obviously, the main aspect of this story centers around kissing. When I started reading I kept thinking what a funny concept this was. For these Princesses to just be running around kissing Princes like it’s nothing? Oh, no big deal! But due to how these royals are raised, it isn’t a big deal. They believe in lust, but they don’t believe in love. They believe that love is a fantastical thought and idea that the “Romantica” created, and that there is no such thing. For these royals who put their lives on the line each day, kissing is what keeps them alive and fighting. It is a weapon, and that’s it.

But for Zach, that isn’t the case. Zach is a Saevallan Prince who travels to the Crown City of Myria with his Saevallan army to aid in the battle against the dark forces. He is rumored to be the best swordsman and fiercest warrior they have, which isn’t a lie. But Zach is unlike the rest of the royals. He was raised on the streets, didn’t acknowledge his royal blood until recently, and best of all…he was raised as a Romantica. DING DING DING. ROOOOMAANNNCEEE. So naturally the pairing between Ivy and Zach would be a formidable one, except for the part of Zach not wanting a partner. As a Romantica, Zach doesn’t agree with using the “kiss” as a weapon because it means something different to him. Which is true…but there is WAY more to it that I obviously can’t tell you.

As one could guess, a romance develops…but a difficult one at that! A boy who was raised on love and a girl who was raised to not even think it was real? Talk about complicated! As the two set out on their task, they encounter countless battles and dangers. Though I was a bit miffed about that ending, it wasn’t a complete issue for me. I wish the author would have wrapped everything up JUST a little better. I feel like I missed a ton of important moments between the ending of the story and the epilogue. I felt like this could have been elaborated on more because it left me feeling a bit rushed.

There is a ton of action in this story, a few close calls, countless arguments between Ivy and Zach, and a truly different outlook on the normal fairytale. These characters are developed in a way that showcases their fierceness, as well as their innocence and value. The reader is encased in a battle between doing what one is taught, and doing what one wants and feels. It is SUCH a different outlook and take on the “true loves kiss” idea and it is done PERFECTLY! I’m only wishing this was a ten part series…I want more, more, more!

When had I become someone who struggled with the difference between a kiss and a Kiss?”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Prophecy (The Healer, Book 4) By. C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: Armed with memories of her past life and the identity of her true soul mate, Hope is bound and determined to fulfill her destiny and heal the veil…on her own terms, that is. Unfortunately, Hope’s inability to play by the rules causes a rift in the group and discord with Tie. Dark forces are at work fighting to tear them apart, while Victor, Ms. Mori, and Dr. Fairmont attempt to understand Tie’s role in saving the world.

Hope’s inability to sense the veil, Angie’s visions of loved one’s deaths, Kirby’s vulnerability, and an unwanted bond with a dangerous kami are certain to prevent her from ending the conflict once and for all. The group needs answers found in an ancient prophecy and written in a language few understand.

And they have no idea where it is…

And Amatsu’s servants are hunting them…

And the veil is failing…

Opinion:

It has finally come: the end of the road. The last crumb of the pie. The last of the Mohicans.

(This has nothing to do with the Mohicans).

After a long and emotional tug of war between soulmates, centuries, Gods, demons and amnesia; the Prophecy Series has come to an end.

But to be honest, I am left feeling pretty disappointed by this installment.

With every bit of knowledge from her past life, and the dangers in her present, Hope has finally reunited with her soulmate and begun the task of healing the veil. But nothing ever comes easy for Hope. With the Black Blossom binding her to the demon God Amatsu, she struggles to fight against her forced feelings for the God of the underworld and her true feelings for the God of Marriage, Tie. But with the bond between Hope and Amatsu only growing stronger, Hope and her friends rush to find the prophecy in hopes of learning the true translation. Only with the prophecy will Hope and Tie have a chance at healing the veil and saving the world, which means they must travel back to where it all started. In Kagami.

This is the fourth book in The Healer series, so check out my reviews for Book 1 – The Healer, Book 2 – The Black Blossom and Book 3 – The Grass Cutter Sword!

Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed reading this series. The entire storyline is creative, well developed, and extremely addicting. The separation between past and present lives is so eloquently laid out, and the movement of the story between 1000 A.D. to the present gives this series an extra layer of WOW. I truly commend this author for creating such an exciting and detailed world for us readers. Even though Kagami was a dangerous place for Hope, I couldn’t help but want to be there with Musubi and Victor. This series gave a mix of history into this well created fantasy story, while also showcasing some brilliant girl power and complete badassery by our female characters. My weakness is a strong and capable woman who can do anything, so thank you to the author for…mostly doing that.

I do however, have a few qualms with the last installment of this story. First is with Mikomi/Hope when it comes to her being this strong and fierce female character. In her first life she was Mikomi, and she was a princess of the Kagami empire in 1000 A.D. who was the prophesized Healer meant to heal the veil. This character was beaten by her father, forced to be meek and obedient due to her culture, and given nothing in terms of choices for her future. But was this girl weak, HELL NO. She had strong morals and a wicked sense of what she wanted for herself. She did what she wanted, regardless of the consequences or what path was set out for her. So why, pray tell, does she become such a doe-eyed, man-needing, pre-teen as Hope? It broke my heart a little to see her become this childish version of herself that NEEDED Tie so badly that she became less independent, and more DEPENDENT. Tie’s wishy-washy behavior of “I’ll fight for you” and “I’ll let you go” was nauseating. If he goes, LET HIM GO. BYE!! Heal that damn veil on your own girl, you got this! I know it was love that conquers all, and that was one of the message from this story, but the Tie meltdowns were making me wish Hope would just finish it. THANKFULLY, Angie was my saving grace for a female who doesn’t need a man to do anything.

The only other issue I have with The Prophecy is the reason that it took me so long to get through the last book of The Healer series. I had a hard time with the characters transitioning from their lives in 1000 A.D., to their lives in present times. It wasn’t exactly the flashbacks from then and now, because those were constructed perfectly. It seemed as if the characters went from being these strong and mature people, to immature adolescents. In Hope and Angie’s case, I could understand them acting a bit younger due to them ACTUALLY being teenagers. They had only just remembered their previous lives, so naturally the culture now will have made them a bit more…innocent and childish? Sure, I can get on board with that. Makes sense. But WHY are Victor and Tie acting this way? THESE GUYS ARE GODS WHO HAVE LIVED FOR CENTURIES. They literally went from being MEN to BOYS. Why is Bishu the only character that has kept his eloquent form of speaking, and why is he the only one that still holds himself like he’s had years upon years of walking this earth? This made it incredibly hard for me to read this last book in the series. It made these characters feel so transparent and ridiculous, which is the exact opposite of the people I knew them to be. Needless to say, I am more than a little bummed out about how they turned out.

But with my complaining of characters aside, a review of this story as a whole is what I am really trying to get to. Hope finds herself bound to the demon God Amatsu, with his darkness only growing stronger inside of her. The true question of this book is this: Can Hope overcome this binding and fight for what she really wants? Because that is the REAL question in this entire series isn’t it?! Mikomi and Hope have been suppressed and forced to do so many things through their lives, except choose their own fate. So gold star for that! The real PEARL of this story is Amatsu though. Move over Musubi, Amatsu is my new male love for The Healer series. What can I say? I love a bad boy! I love a hated character, especially one engulfed in darkness and bad decisions! SWOON! Thankfully my boy finds himself a happy ending, though it was a bit unexpected.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the battles and the imagination behind the place that Kagami had turned into. These battles are EPIC and there are a TON of them. Someone is constantly trying to kill Hope and her friends, and I have to be honest, I was feeling it. Demon cat-like creatures coming from the underworld trying to maul them? Um hello, sign me up! We even get to meet Bishu, a demon who was a God once upon a time who lives as a hell cat, but has a heart of gold! Aw. The world of Kagami is where this story really excels though. The trek to Hope’s former home is a dangerous one, and the forest they travel through is crawling with all sorts of dangers. Every aspect of this land can kill you, and everything is alive. This makes for an AMAZING and EXCITING adventure.

All in all, I did really enjoy this series. I was pretty disappointed with this book in regards to the characters, but the story makes up for it. I read a few other reviews from other readers who DO NOT share my opinions on the characters, so keep that in mind. These are just my feelings and observations. This is still an amazing and creative series, and I think it is well-worth any readers time.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Adult

Plot: It’s 1592. Europe is in chaos. Religious factions have torn the region apart and witch-hunts have become a part of everyday life.

In the Company of Wolves follows three groups of travelers – a fearless female pirate roaming the North Sea, a priest and his wife escaping to England to avoid persecution, and a young thief from the slums of Germany looking for a better life. Each has a different reason for venturing out in such tumultuous times – fear, greed, family secrets.

Is the Werewolf of Bedburg still alive, roaming the countryside and killing innocent citizens? Many believe he’s still out there—that religious and political leaders have forsaken the truth in their cunning quest for power.

As each traveler searches for individual answers, these three seemingly separate stories converge in a place which may hold the key for them all. Based on true events involving one of the deadliest witch trials in European history, this tale of adventure, mystery, and the search for truth reminds us that, ultimately, no one is safe . . . in the company of wolves.

Opinion:

It’s September kids, and you know what that means! Eerie moonlight, creatures waking from the dead, torture chambers and stealing. Witch hunts and religious persecution, prostitutes and pirates. Poison, potions and pillaging!

Tis the season to be demented and murderous!

Welcome to Europe in 1592, where you can be burned alive for false accusations and having your own beliefs! Say hello to book 2 in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, In the Company of Wolves. OoOoOoOo…*dramatic fanning*…it’s gunna be a whirlwind!

With Europe in a religious tug of war for control and regular accusations of witchcraft and sorcery, no one is safe. Sybil Griswold and her husband Dieter have fled to England with their family, in hopes of starting a new life after escaping jail and killing a man. Hot on their trail is Gustav Koehler, a man hellbent on avenging the brother that Dieter killed and bringing Sybil and her family to trial. Back in Germany is Hugo, the younger brother of Sybil, who was left an orphan after the wrongful conviction of their father Peter Griswold, who was accused of being the Werewolf of Bedburg. Now living as a petty thief, Hugo’s life begins down a dark path as he is thrust into the throngs of murder and manipulation. Across the sea, we come to a ship called The Lion’s Pride. Rowaine Donnelly has just assumed the role of captain after castrating her predecessor, all the while searching for her father that is thought to be dead. Though living separate lives, these people are more intertwined in their own pasts and futures than they realize. Through turmoil and murder they are forced to trek in order to meet their goals, while learning more about themselves than they knew, along the way.

Due to this being the second book in the series, and the reader needing to read book one to know what’s happening, please see my review HERE to see how this series begins.

When I read The Devil in the Countryside I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive. Usually religious driven historical fictions are NOT my cup of tea, but as I started reading…I got HOOKED. Cory Barclay has such a talent from writing descriptive and “old-timey” stories that have a little fact twisted into every bit of fantasy he throws at the reader. With no surprise on my end, he did a fabulous job extending this addicting story with In the Company of Wolves. This series truly has what every dark mystery needs. It’s a who-done-it with carnage, accusations of sorcery, pirates, thieves, religious turmoil, shocking twists and a touch of romance. A ton of blood will be spilled during this read, but never fear, it isn’t THAT graphic.

Sybil and Dieter have started a new life in England, with the hopes of practicing Dieter’s newly shaped faith by means of a new church. They have made new friends and work towards living a simple life in peace, but that of course isn’t going to happen to these poor characters. Enter: Gustav Khoeler. Gustav has been tracking the couple for some time, unbeknownst to them, seeking revenge for the death of his brother Johannes. Gustav is a vile and disturbing character, and it seems that the crudest and most despicable acts happen in his company. Gustav is the true picture of a man that would do ANYTHING to get what he wants. By capturing the couple, Gustav plans to bring them to his father Ludwig Von Bergheim in Trier, where they will be put to trial and burned alive for their crimes. So ensues a chase, a capturing, another chase, and another capturing. Eventually running the group into a fearsome female pirate, by the name of Rowaine Donnelly.

Rowaine is a  truly fierce, empowered, and BADASS female. Not only does she castrate her own captain in order to take his place (yes, you read that correctly) but she has little to no fear and a whole lot of charm. Rowaine’s mission is to find her adoptive father, a man that is thought to be dead. Along the way she finds herself protecting Sybil and Dieter, who share various connections from their pasts. In agreement to help each other, Rowaine, Sybil and Dieter head back to Bedburg to find Rowaine’s long lost father. But being back in Bedburg is a risky place to be for Sybil and Dieter, considering they are still fugitives on the run. But what is interesting about the return to Bedburg, is that many characters from book one now believe that Sybil’s father WAS actually wrongfully labeled the Werewolf of Bedburg. Which of course continues the search for the real werewolf. Hmmmm….who done it, indeed.

While all this is happening, the reader also follows Hugo, Sybil’s younger brother that stayed behind in Bedburg. Hugo is by far my FAVORITE character this time around. He is young and fresh, but has a strong sense of morals and loyalty. But a few turn of events land Hugo in a place that he didn’t expect from himself, the apprentice to the torturer of Bedburg, the famous Ulrich. If there was a book based on Hugo’s travels alone, I would be on it before you could even give a release date. This kid has guts and spunk, and he will SHOCK you with what he does. He eventually ends up in the pit of this never-ending religious power struggle, and the role he takes on is an interesting one.

I feel like I am leaving you guys completely hanging here because there is SO much that happens in this story. There are some epic gun fights and show downs, especially near the end. There are new characters who make this story amazing, and some old ones who make it even better. Now this book focuses more on the select characters rather than the Werewolf of Bedburg, like in book one. But I imagine that book three will tie everything back together, giving the reader a nice assortment of both stories. I truly cannot express the level of writing and detail this author has given this series. Though it may feel like a long read, you will get hooked and won’t want to put the story down. This second installment has left me NEEDING to get my hands on book three, because I have to know what the author is going to me up with next!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Quantum Ghost by Johnathan Ballagh

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Johnathan Ballagh, for an honest review

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Adventure

Plot: On a cold autumn night, twelve-year-old Remi Cobb makes a startling discovery—a mysterious object floating on the pond in her backyard. With no idea where it came from, or how it got there, Remi is compelled to unravel its secrets. Her quest for answers takes her on a perilous journey across realities, where she finds a crumbling world—and the dark forces behind its ruin. Here she learns the truth about her connection with the strange object, and of those that will stop at nothing to destroy them both. But even if she can find a way to survive, can she find a way home?

Opinion:

Advert:

Are all those fairy and assassin stories getting you down? Too much pumpkin juice in your mortal cup? Not enough A.I. in your glass palace?

WELL LOOK NO FURTHER!

A few 3D printers, alternate dimensions, and an absurd combination of 1’s and 0’s is all you need! Not sure if black holes and quantum physics is your thing?!?

NONSENSE!

The Quantum Ghost guar-an-tees a safe and reliable journey into another world, with the protection and guidance of a metal dog and a slightly amnesia ridden robot child.

CONCERNED? DON’T BE!

It’s ONLY the fate of a thirteen-year-old girl and an entire world in your hands! Yes, there may be a few virus ridden robots trying to kill you along the way, but that’s the fun part! Right?

Strap on those goggles and space boots kids, because we’re walking into another dimension.

AGAIN!

No “actual” or “official” guarantees of safe travel to another dimension have been made by this author.

Doctors orders have required thirteen-year-old Remi Cobb to be separated from friends and stuck in her house until she gets better. But a strange encounter one night by the pond in her backyard forces Remi out of her home, and into the depths of danger. After finding a strange orb and waking up unconscious outside with no memory of what happened, Remi begins receiving packages and instructions to build some type of machinery. To her surprise, this machinery turns out to be a robot that changes her life forever. Soon Remi finds herself in the company of a young girl named Nova, a metal dog named Achilles, and a young robot named AJ. On the run from infected robots called Leaks and a dangerous leader named Kore, Remi works to find a cure for the virus that is spreading across her new friend’s world.

Peel back my preferences and call me a traitor, but I think I just jumped ship from Faeries and magic to demon robots and coding.

In all my dizziest daydreams (that was a HARD HP reference guys, look alive) I never thought I would want two books to be made into films as badly as I NEED The Quantum Door and The Quantum Ghost to be. I am praying OBSESSIVELY to the Book Gods to make this happen, because I just can’t take it! I NEED to see this on the big screen. Now if you haven’t read my review for book one of this two-part series, The Quantum Door, click here and have yourself a lovely time. For those of you who HAVE read that review (you little overachievers) then you will know how much I adore Johnathan Ballagh’s writing and imagination. I have not come across many writers that can write a Fantasy/Sci-Fi story without it being the length of a textbook, but Johnathan knows just how to get to the readers to end without leaving them feeling rushed or confused.

So here’s the low down kids: There is a world, in an alternate universe, that is filled with robots called Artifex. These Artifex were created by humans, and ironically the advanced Artifex called the Elder Minds, were the cause of the demise of the humans on this planet (see book one for that story). But the “regular” Artifex adored humans and some even went a little crazy trying to imitate them and become them. But now a virus is spreading across this planet, infecting the Artifex by turning them into zombie robots, which are called Leaks. The only chance of their survival is a cure for the virus which entails the knowledge of the “Primer Code”, which very few know about. Enter: Remi.

Remi is a young girl with a mysterious sickness that has kept her at home for some time. She is a curious and smart character, and to say that she has gone a little stir-crazy is an understatement. For her to go from being bored out of her mind day by day, to finding a floating orb by her pond and then being shipped parts to build a robot is QUITE the change of events. Wouldn’t you say? Obviously, we can guess that this young girl is the key to the survival of the Artifex, and OH BOY is she!

But our main character doesn’t do this all on her own, she is accompanied by a few of my favorite characters from The Quantum Door. A fiery girl named Nova, a metal/robotic dog named Achilles, and a “child robot” named AJ. These characters, in my opinion, are what really holds these books together and makes them so enjoyable. Robots with very human-like mannerisms and thinking is a common concept, but Johnathan Ballagh has given it a twist by giving these robots depth and emotions. The contrast between all of them gives the stories a lot of layers, and the author does an amazing job of making the reader forget that they are reading dialogue between robots and not humans.

I think one of the best aspects of these books are the visuals the reader gets in their mind while reading. I felt like I was watching all of these moments play out, rather than just reading them on a page. I was transported to another world with these characters, and all I want is to go back and be with them. I can’t help myself, I feel a bit of loss finishing this story. But let’s also not forget how truly spectacular the three drawings that we are blessed with are:

This is one of those sequels that doesn’t make reading the first story a requirement, but it might be helpful to give the reader a bit of background. One of the greatest things about The Quantum Ghost is that it’s a new story with a new main character, but we still get to see some amazing people and robots from book one. The Quantum Ghost is another story that provides and epic adventure, and gives readers of all ages a feeling of wonder and endless possibilities. This story makes me feel nostalgic and like I am a child again, and that is really all that I can ask for in a book.

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s – Delacorte Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Opinion:

Though I DID read this MONTHS ago, I didn’t review it right away, which in turn has caused me to re-read it so that I could properly refresh myself.

So, my review for Ash Princess…better late than never, right?!

10 years ago, Princess Theodosia Eirene Houzzara’s country was invaded by the Kalovaxians. Her people were slaughtered and enslaved, her home overrun by her enemy, and her mother’s throat was slit before her eyes. Now at sixteen, Theodosia wears a new name, Thora the Ash Princess. She now lives among the people that brought destruction upon her kind, the Astreans, and endures torment and abuse to just live another day. But life as the Ash Princess doesn’t come without it’s catches. Her best friend is a Kalovaxian named Cress who is the daughter of the Theyn, the man that killed Theodosia’s mother; she is whipped and beaten by order of the Kaiser when rebel Astrean groups attack, and she is guarded at all times to ensure that she stays loyal to her enemy. But everything changes when the Kaiser forces Thora to kill a man from her childhood, a man loyal to her mother. Soon Thora finds herself in a position to strike against the Kaiser, and to exact revenge on the people that stole everything form her. But sometimes not everything is fair in love and war, and Theodosia must make a choice when it comes to what she thinks is right.

My mother was known as the Fire queen, regal and strong. But I am the Ash Princess, a living joke.” – Thora, Ash Princess

Okay guys, Check. This. Out.

If any of you know me, you know that I LOVE a great fantasy read about royals and a little bloodshed. It just makes my blood thrum with happiness! Ash Princess does just that by giving the reader a little romance, suspense, turmoil, a question of morals vs. karma, magic, and of course some killing to keep in interesting. This is definitely a story you will have no problem devouring and speeding through, but be warned that it might feel a little “young” depending on your age/preference (despite the killing, etc.) which I will get into in a moment.

Firstly, more about this story! Theodosia (Thora) is sixteen years old and living in her palace that the Kaiser and the Kalovaxians took over ten years prior. After Theodosia’s mother was killed, the Kaiser gave Theo the choice to die or live amongst her enemy. She chose to live, thus thrusting her into the lions’ den and leading a life pretending to hate her own people. The Kaiser is a brutal man who takes what he wants and has no remorse for what he does. He uses Theo as a tool against the Astreans by publicly whipping and beating Theo every time rebel groups try to fight against the Kalovaxians.

When the reader is first introduced to Theodosia, she is living as Thora the Ash Princess. Thora is a timid, meek and subservient girl. Her spirit is broken, and she seems to have given up on ever being rescued and freed from her cage. Though she does have a friend in the palace, Cress, it is still a friend she can’t speak freely to. She is forced to censor herself and put on an act to show the Kaiser that she is loyal to the Kalovaxians, and it is truly sad to read. But what I liked about Thora was that even when she had metaphorically locked Theodosia away, there were still moments where she showed the reader that she hadn’t completely lost herself.

‘“You requested my presence, your highness?” I ask, dropping into a curtsy so deep I am flat against the ground. Even after a decade, my bones still protest the posture. My body remembers-even when the rest of me forgets-that I am not made for curtsying.’ – Thora, Ash Princess

But after the Kaiser forces Thora to kill one of her own, things start to change drastically.  Thora finds herself among rebels that want to rescue her, but instead she makes the decision to stay and work as a spy. Now I can’t go in to too much more detail because I don’t want to give away the good stuff, but I CAN tell you guys about this little romance we have brewing!

Insert: A Love Triangle. Or…is it?

Soren, the Prinz of the Kalovaxians and the son of the cruel Kaiser. He has just come back from apprenticing under the Theyn for 5 years, and APPARENTLY he is a legendary and fierce warrior. Soren proves to be the opposite of his father, and seems like he might genuinely care about changing the world. Blaise is our other male in this triangle, and he is an Astrean who grew up with Theodosia. As part of the rebels plan for Theo, she must basically make the Prinz fall in love with her. Of course along the way some true feelings arise between Theo and the Prinz, but not without some moments happening between Theo and Blaise as well. I can honestly say guys, I am TORN on this one. Usually I ALWAYS favor one character over the other, but I don’t in this story! Will she choose Blaise? Will she choose Soren?? Well I don’t know, because the author left me with this annoyingly HUGE cliffhanger!

Now there is also some magic that is happening in this story. For the Astreans, Spritgems were sacred gems that made up the four elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water. The gems would give the wielder an extra boost of power to use with their magical element, and were considered very sacred. A select few Astreans would spend years in temples praying to their gods in order to be blessed. Some would be blessed with powers and become guardians, while others would go mad. Once the Kalovaxians took over, they forced the remaining Astreans into the mines to mine for the Spiritgems, while disgracing their beliefs and using the gems as jewelry. Wicked, right? Of course, our poor Theo was forbidden to be around any sort of gems. But if you are wondering why this poor girl is called the “Ash Princess”, the obvious reason is this: the Kaiser forces Thora to wear a crown of ashes every time they throw a party. Now if that isn’t the most legendary and cruel symbol of someone destroying your entire life and forcing you to show it off, I don’t know what is.

The only qualms I have with this story are this: it feels a little TOO young at times, and some things aren’t fully explained. Now I know that our main character is sixteen, but there are some HEAVY things happening in this story that make this character grow up fast. My issue is that Theo, Blaise, and a few of the other characters act and speak in such an adolescent way…that I found myself getting confused. The author is pulling me back and forth between them being mature, and not mature, and I am just not sure which direction I should be going in. If this supposed to be a YA read, or a Teen YA read?

My other small problem is the author not fully explaining things, or not fully building up moments. For example: Blaise tells Theo that she always gets a certain look on her face when she is about to do something rebellious. Theo retorts that he can never stop her anyways. As the reader, I don’t recall this happening much at all? I feel like I am being told something rather than just coming to that conclusion on my own. Another example is when it is said that Soren is a legendary warrior. This seems so shocking to me because I can’t help but imagine Soren as a teenage boy, not a fierce and feared man. There was no context that proves he should be anything else than what I am visualizing, so it left me a bit confused.

Those things aside, I think this is a really great read. I am sitting her twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book, which I know will be a while from now. Sorry for that LONG ass review, but there was just so much to talk about! Though I did have a few annoyances while reading Ash Princess, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you love YA/Fantasy reads. I am a sucker for anything with royalty and fantasy, so if you are the same then you will REALLY enjoy this book.

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Pre-order · Reviews

Book Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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The Dark Beneath the Ice will be available for purchase on August 7, 2018

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

Amazon.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Barnesandnoble.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Goodreads.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Bookdepository.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen/Paranormal

Plot: Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Opinion:

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her”

So this was…interesting.

Marianne’s life has never been more out of control. With her parents announcing their divorce despite seeming to be so in love, her mother’s recent hospitalization, and the drama surrounding Marianne’s decision to quit dance; it feels like Marianne is drowning.  As she is sent to live with her aunt, strange things begin to happen in Marianne’s quiet world. Losing time, objects being moved without her moving them, strange knocking and banging on the walls, and the never-ending feeling of being watched. After a loss of time happens in one of Marianne’s classes, she attempts to reach out to the goth girl named Ron in hopes that her psychic mother may help her. But when communicating with whatever haunts Marianne only strengthens it, everyone close to Marianne is in danger. Something is coming for Marianne, and its angry at her for being shoved down and drowned. But in the end, Marianne may be the one being dragged beneath the ice.

Intriguing concept and idea, but a bit of a miss for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some positives! The story started out great in regards to the writing style. It was so descriptive and beautiful, I felt as if I was reading a more relaxed form of poetry. The writing feels like a well-choreographed dance, and I found myself having to read between the lines to figure out what these characters were hiding. It was constructed well, had an even tone throughout, and was a very quick and easy read. The theme that the author kept with through this story (as you can tell from the title) is a theme of being drowned or shoved down beneath ice. Marianne uses her memories of the river near her aunt’s house as a meditative tool when she begins to feel overwhelmed or scared. She pictures the calming feeling of her being submerged in the water, and the silence and security that comes with hiding under the surface.  The water is her safe place, and the ice on top of the water becomes her shield against anything negative. This theme is carried throughout the entire book, but becomes less of a symbolism and more of a….sighit honestly just becomes ridiculous.

As I started this read, I was really into it and devouring the words in order to find out WHAT exactly was going on. Is this a ghost story, is it a story of delusions and misconceptions, or is it a fantastical read about demons?! Halfway through the story I had decided that this was a ghost haunting/exorcism story that was about to be twisted and wild, and it was proving to be just that. Marianne would wake up at the piano in her aunt’s house banging on the keys in the middle of the night, or she would find herself up in front of her class at school being scolded by her teacher but having no recollection of what had happened. Things got worse after Ron, the goth/emo girl from school, tries to give Marianne a tame version of an exorcism. But even after enlisting the help of Ron’s mother, the physic, things turn dangerous. Knives floating in the air and being aimed at herself, bruises on her body, and a distinct pulling feeling that tries to drag her into the river and drown her.

However, how this turns out just DOES NOT ADD UP.

*Watch out, there’s a puddle of SPOILERS down there*

Nearing the end of this story I had a thought that MAYBE this was all just a symbolism for Marianne figuratively drowning herself in her hardships and woes and BLAH BLAH BLAH. MAYBE there isn’t actually a ghost or anything haunting her, MAYBE it’s just her.

Well, guess what?

It was literally both of those things.

It was her own “shadow self” trying to drown her because Marianne had pushed her “shadow self” beneath the figurative surface, and the “shadow self” wanted out because the “shadow self” was actually the original Marianne, and the Marianne that is now Marianne isn’t actually the original Marianne. The “shadow self” is actually the first Marianne, but in the end they are actually both Marianne.

Makes total sense right?

-__-

Apart from that complete mess, the character of Marianne that the reader follows during this read proves to be another negative in my eyes. Marianne is, simply put, annoying as all hell. She felt a bit dull, emotionally confusing, and extremely desperate and needy in a way that made me scrunch my face up in a “WTF” sort of way. She has this fabricated idea of friendships in her head that I just didn’t follow. She was so worried about looking needy all the time, but it just made her look doubly needy and a little stalkerish. She just wasn’t my cup of tea. Ron on the other hand, was a more agreeable character for me. This could be because of my tendency to favor the weird gothy kids though. But Ron proves to be a strong character, she is willful and a “take no s**t” kind of gal, and I love her for it.

Also as a heads up, there is a bit of LGBT moments that happen in this story. They are very tame and mild, so if this is your thing or isn’t, just a warning in advance.

All in all, that ending really ruined the story for me. It started out promising, I loved the writing style, but the main character and the conclusion just didn’t hit the mark for me. I appreciate where the author was trying to take this story, but I don’t think she was able to take this book to the place it needed to go. The ending just didn’t feel completely thought through, and the delivery was a bit lacking. Of course, this is just my own opinion, and not all readers share my thoughts. If you think this might be a story that interests you, then I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

2-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

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Amazon.com – The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

Goodreads.com – The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

Bookdepository.com – The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

Barnesandnoble.com – The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: War is coming, and the veil between life and death is weakening.

As a trusted member of the Samurai Rebels, it is up to Mikomi to gather information that will stop her father from creating a kami army. Katsu’s constant interference impedes her progress, and she is torn between her duty to the world and her love for one very reluctant rebel. Unfortunately, more than one party is interested in using the kami army for their own malicious purposes.

Mikomi’s enemies quickly multiply as a plot far more devious in nature is unearthed. Though Musubi works to prepare her for the many dangers she must face, remaining within the palace walls may no longer be an option. She must protect herself against nekomata disguised as normal humans, while a far greater threat lurks within the heart of a man whom she loves and trusts.

Opinion:

WOOOOOOOOO! Things are HEATING UP boys and girls!

Can you guys feel it?! That…that tingling?! It’s almost like goosebumps, or maybe butterflies? It…it almost feels like…NO! Could it be???

HOPE?

…I’m actually referring to the feeling or desire here though, not the character Hope…HA! *sigh* bad joke.

As Mikomi’s ascension and wedding to the warrior God Katsu nears, the threats against her life and her kingdom are at an all time high. With Katsu unable to heal the significant damage done to Mikomi’s Ki due to the healing of her mother, Mikomi and her teacher begin to wonder if the prophecy was interpreted correctly: if Katsu is even her soulmate. But while Mikomi searches for the truth, new concerns begin to arise. The Nekomata are attacking Mikomi left and right, and an army more sinister than the Emperor’s is readying to attack. With the rebels and Musubi at her side, Mikomi fights to free the enslaved God’s in the palace while looking for her own way out in the process.

*It’s Spoiler City down there*

That was probably a REALLY confusing summary that I just laid out for you guys if you haven’t started this series yet. So, what are you waiting for? Get on it! The Grass Cutter Sword is book number THREE in The Healer series, and it is just as action/sadness/heartbreak/romance packed as the previous! The reader continues to relive Hope’s past life with her as Princess Mikomi: the prophesized Healer who will join with the Warrior God Katsu to heal the veil between life and death. Now there really isn’t any way for me to review this story without giving away some HUGE moments from book two, so…beware? 😉

The Grass Cutter Sword leaves off right where The Black Blossom (book 2) ended; Mikomi has red eyes from her Ki being severely damage after she was forced by the Emperor to heal her mother, she isn’t sure if Katsu is actually her true soul mate, she has the serious obsessions with Musubi, and she is still trying to figure out how to win the war against the Emperor. This girl has A LOT to handle. But to her credit, Mikomi is turning into a real badass. She is honing her samurai fighting skills in order to protect herself, and even her healing abilities are getting stronger. Not only is Mikomi progressing on her own in this third installment, but FINALLY we are seeing some progression with Musubi!

The relationship between Mikomi and Musubi (remember kids, it’s also Hope and Tie) has FINALLY made a turn for the right!! But then…oh wait…it crashes and burns again. -__- *sarcastic monotone excitement* – WOO. These two…*le sigh* are trying to kill me. Every time I saw a little glimmer of hope (hehe) between them, just a little smidge of progression to “twue wuv” and happiness, Musubi literally runs away. Literally. He just leaves.

Umbye?

Now, this book ends on a somewhat bittersweet note. It filled me with romance, only to empty me halfway. Romance aside though, The Grass Cutter Sword  kicks some serious ass. The threat to the rebels becomes INSANE as they learn some dark news about their enemy. This is BIG guys, and it’s downright horrible. I have to say that where this book leads up to is by far my favorite, the epic battle scene and the end of Hope’s life as Mikomi is a true punch to your gut. What happens to Mikomi and her friends is DEVASTATING. But truth be told, as soon as I followed Mikomi back to the present, back into her life as Hope, I was a little bummed. I have grown to LOVE who these characters were in their past lives. They acted with so much more conviction and wisdom, and I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed when they started acting like ridiculous teenagers again when Hope woke up. My only complaint is that these characters shouldn’t have changed, and that the badassery that was showcased during Mikomi’s life should have DEFINITELY continued.

Ending aside, I am looking forward to finishing up book four and checking this awesome series off my TBR list. I am hoping for improvement when it comes to the characters and how they act in the “present”, but we shall see where the author takes this story. I am SO ready to get back to this epic love/adventure story!

4-stars

 

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