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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: 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 Review: The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) 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: 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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Book review: The Black Blossom (The Healer Book 2) 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: Forced into a dream-like state, Hope is now reliving her life as Mikomi, Princess of the Kagami Empire and The Healer of the world.

Life as an Imperial Princess is rife with danger, betrayal, and intrigue as Mikomi joins forces with a rebel group of samurai warriors in order to usurp the throne from her tyrannical father. To win this seemingly hopeless war, she must train with Musubi, a warrior in the rebel army, and learn the art of the sword without revealing her identity as The Healer.

Unbeknownst to her, Musubi harbors his own secret identity and personal agenda, both of which hold dark consequences for Mikomi’s future. Neither one can afford to share their secrets, nor can they ignore the powerful chemistry building between them.

Further complications arise at the arrival of her betrothed, Katsu, who must aid her in mastering control of her own gift before she ascends as a full kami on her eighteenth birthday. Katsu is not the cold-hearted warrior god she expected, but how can she spend eternity with a deity she may never love?

Determined to avoid her destiny, she spies on her father and his generals, collecting intelligence for the rebel army in the hope that one day the empire of Kagami will be liberated and her own future will be hers to control.

Opinion:

Today from my far away land of Northern California, I bring you a riveting review of The Black Blossom, the sequel to The Healer by C.J. Anaya. I reviewed The Healer MONTHS ago, so if you have forgotten or never saw it, please go here before continuing. Or if you’re feeling rebellious and refuse to take s**t from me or anyone else, don’t. You go, you little rebel you! 😉

After nearly draining her life force in order to save Kirby, Hope has been forced into a state of dreaming so that she is able to relive the memories of her past life. The reader is taken back in time to Hope’s first life in 1000 A.D. as Princess Mikomi, the healer that is prophesized to heal the veil between the living and the dead with her betrothed, Katsu. Though Mikomi has a strict life path laid out before her, it doesn’t stop her from sneaking away from her duties in order to heal villagers in need. But the moment of her arranged marriage and ascension is nearing, and the vile Emperor’s countless abuse of Mikomi’s powers is beginning to wear her thin. In an attempt to defy her father, the Emporer, Mikomi joins forces with the rebel armies intent on taking back the Kagami Empire; and begins training with the mysterious and cold Musubi. Months of training and attempts by Mikomi to crack the hard shell of Musubi begins to make improve, but her conflicting feelings for her betrothed begin to rise as well. All Mikomi can do now is gather as much information against her father as possible, and hope that it will be enough to change her destiny.

Did somebody say…SWOON?!?

THIS is where this series takes off and becomes a story worth raving about. Though I did enjoy book one, The Healer, I can’t even compare the level of amazing that The Black Blossom is. This author COMPLETELY revamped the “enjoyable but okay” book that the reader starts out with. The characters, the world, the danger, and the intrigue are at LEVEL 10 and I am like a bug to a lamp…smashing my head against it for MORE, MORE, MORE! The Healer had a great direction that it was moving towards and introduced some dreamy characters, but it felt so adolescent and a bit “eye-rollish”. In The Black Blossom we are transported back in time, but these characters are EVOLVED. The men are actually MEN and there isn’t all of this immature banter going on between the males and females that makes me want to barf a little. Instead of feeling like I am reading a teen story, I feel like I am immersed in a true YA Fantasy series. HELL YES to that!

This installment of The Healer series starts out in 1000 A.D., where Hope is experiencing her first life as Princess Mikomi of the Kagami Empire. It has been prophesized that a Kami and a human woman will bear a child (Mikomi) that will be the key to healing the veil between the living and the dead. Once of age, Mikomi is meant to marry Masaru Katsu, Warrior God and keeper of the Grass Cutter Sword, where they will combine as one to heal the veil and save everyone…blah, blah, blah…happily ever after. For Mikomi, this life isn’t at all what she wants for herself. She dreams of being able to choose her own destiny and make her own choices, which includes sneaking out of the palace and healing villagers in secret.

Eventually circumstances land Mikomi in a position to help rebel armies overthrow her father, the Emperor. Now, in her defense, the Emperor is a Grade A Asshole. Not only is he power hungry and ruthless, but he uses Mikomi’s healing abilities to suit his own needs by interrogating rebels. He has no respect for human life, so you know…off with his head. As Mikomi begins to aid the rebels in healings, she also insists upon being trained in combat so that she is able to take care or herself and her loved ones. Enter: Musubi.

Now Musubi is an interesting fellow. Tall, brooding, cold, mysterious…a real prick. But a dreamy one at that! This guy is the epitome of SUH-WOON! Not only does he have a menagerie of secrets that he is hiding, but the reader just can’t help but fall in love with him. I mean come on, I’m in love with him.  The relationship between Mikomi and Musubi is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, hopeful and delicate, but actually plain confusing and aggravating. There is an OBVIOUS connection between the two, but past circumstances have made Musubi cold and closed-off from his feelings. Every time Mikomi begins to break through his walls, Musubi adds more bricks. With Katsu, Mikomi’s betrothed, added into the mix, things really start to get interesting. HELLO LOVE TRIANGLE! We begin to see Mikomi struggle to do what is expected of her, and what she wants for herself. It truly is a hard thing to witness and I can’t help but give this character major props for being such a resilient little badass. The question of the century for her is simply this: which path is the right path?

I don’t want to give too much more away, but I think that will give you guys a great idea of what to expect from this book and the one following. The world that this author creates is detailed and dangerous, and it becomes a story that you just can’t imagine putting down. I am ENRAPTURED with these characters and the ride that I am being taken on. I am in the middle of the next installment, The Grass Cutter Sword, and I can barely describe to you how this author is making my heart feel! I feel sick and elated, but mostly full of hope. I know that there is SO much more turmoil and depressing events to come, and I am preparing myself now for some heartbreak. I am so glad that this series has turned into something SO much more than I had expected. This is truly a winner for me.

Book two is going to leave you with a bit of a cliffhanger, so have number three on hand so that you can dive in right away. Trust me, you’re going to need it. Good luck readers, this one is going to make you go crazy!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction, Fantasy

Plot: Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Opinion:

Witch hunts, romance, drownings, and the ever-lovely rocks being tied to boots to make 3 women sink to the bottom of the ocean; this one’s a doozy.

For my fellow spell casting witches and wizards, I bring you The Wicked Deep.

Every Summer in the town of Sparrow, death marks the waters. Multiple young men are found drowned in the ocean, without any sign of a struggle or foul play. But the residents and tourists of Sparrow are never shocked, because they celebrate this time of year as part of their towns history. As the legend goes, the three Swan sisters (Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel) traveled to Sparrow by boat in 1822 and started a perfume shop. Quickly, the local men started to take interest in the sisters due to their intoxicating beauty and allure. But soon the three sisters were accused of being witches and casting spells on the men of Sparrow. So, the three were taken on a boat with rocks tied to their boots and thrown into the ocean where they drowned. Now in present times, Penny Talbot fears the coming of the new “Swan Season”. Her mothers condition has worsened due to the disappearance of her father 3 years earlier, and Penny only hopes that the deaths stop in Sparrow. But with the arrival of a boy named Bo, this Summer proves to be something else entirely.

Guys, this book is WILD! It has an even pace throughout and it kept me CRAZY interested the entire time, but the best part is the twist that Shea Ernshaw throws in! I will admit that I suspected at least part of what happened, but this author took it a step further and left me more than a little shocked.  The entire idea of this story feels very HOCUS POCUS, but with a style all its own. We’re talking some SCI-FI/Fantasy stuff here guys, and I am loving it! I also want to say that there is a bit of a mystery going on here that the reader gets to participate in. Are the legends true? If they aren’t, then why are girls randomly drowning boys? If they are true, how is that even possible?!

Penny Talbot is a tough character for me to give an opinion on, and after reading this story, you will understand why. From what I have gathered of her, she is a calculated and careful young girl. She is compassionate towards her mother and the state that she has left herself in, but she still has dreams to leave Sparrow. I really liked the character of Bo as well. He has a dark aura of mystery floating around him for a while, but he slowly starts to shed that as he gets to know Penny. Their relationship is…*sigh*…so complicated. It is incredibly hard to elaborate with out spilling the beans of the masterpiece that is this story. So trust me when I say, this romance is a heavy one.

The author made sure to keep my head going in multiple directions as I tried to figure out just WHAT THE HELL was going on in this town of Sparrow. It was so eerie yet entertaining to see all of these teenager’s party down at the beach as the Swan Season began, bating and teasing the girls to go into the water to be inhabited by a sister. This made me assume that most of the locals didn’t believe in the legend…but then. The witch hunt begins. These kids are INSANE. They accuse each other of being a swan sister and for drowning a boy, and then they hold each other captive. What’s worse is that the local police don’t do anything. That’s BIZARRE! I also liked that Penny and her mother lived on a separate section of Sparrow. At first, I was picturing a beautiful mountain range and cliffs with an inviting private dock, but then I was picturing a dark and scary setting straight out of Frankenstein.

I don’t want to give anything away because that would ruin the entire story, but I MUST express my distaste for that ending. It was an ending that we have all come to as readers, one that screams “I had no idea how to wrap this story up”. How Penny and Bo end up is just bizarre to me, but I guess to Penny it wouldn’t be considering the circumstances (I know this is painfully cryptic, I apologize). Regardless…the ending feels like a lie, and I loathe it. Also, these are teenagers. I know Penny’s mother is a little out of it since her father left, but honestly. Where is she every time Bo and Penny start hooking up?! Her senses are obviously off…

Apart from the ending, I loved this story. I thought the story line and the characters were riveting, the flashbacks to parts of the Swan Sisters time in Sparrow gave great insight, and the dark and eerie foreboding the author kept up during the read kept me slightly creeped out (in a good way). I love when a story keeps me guessing and questioning what I think will happen. Though some things were explained a bit too late, I was still able to keep up and enjoy every moment. I am definitely going to keep this author on my radar, especially if she keeps with this witchy theme!

4-stars

 

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