Book Reviews

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

FireborneTitle: Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Rating: ★★★★

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

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

Who doesn’t love a story about dragons?!

“Inspired by Plato’s Republic and told from a dual point of view, the story is pitched as Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons.”

Fireborne is a dazzling debut into a land where suffering, atonement, and political retribution are a norm. The hope of future peace lands lands on the shoulders of two orphaned dragon riders. Suffering from the loss of their families, Lee and Annie bonded at the orphanage where they met.

I look down at this boy, vulnerable, at my mercy, and think, To the ends of the earth I will protect you.

Fast forward some years later to the fight for Firstrider. These scenes reminded me of the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter. Having been born as a Stormscourge and son to the man who burned Annie’s family, tensions rise as the fight for Firstrider commences. But something else looms in the horizon…rumors of another dragon fleet from the old regime have surfaced.

Will Lee betray his family to fight for the government he was raised in for most of his life? Or will he fight with blood?

What makes this story different from other dragon novels is that the reader can feel the emotions of the dragons. The bond between dragon and rider is so intense, it almost serves as a link to the souls. I want a dragon.

On a side note…does anyone else like Power and think he may turn “good guy”?! And does anyone else love Duck?!

You have given life to me.

Munda brings us a captivating story of political unrest, revolution, and the chance to create history. I’m excited for the next installment!

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires, #1) by Jeffe Kennedy

orchidthrone-blogtourbanner

Welcome to my stop on The Orchid Throne book tour! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Orchid Throne_cover

Title: THE ORCHID THRONE (Forgotten Empires, #1)
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Pub. Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Buy the novel:
Here


REVIEW

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

The story started out a little slow, but things started to change around the 40% mark for me.

The reader was able to see the plot thickening and adding more depth into the equation. My only other complaint is that the chapters weren’t labeled from the protagonists’ perspectives. Generally it didn’t take very long to figure out who it was, but there would be more fluidity straight from the beginning of the chapter if this was added.

I love how detailed Kennedy was in her descriptions of the different location throughout the novel like Euthalia and Conri…I felt like I was experiencing the setting with the characters.

original

The Orchid Throne is a great enemies-to-lovers novel. Readers will fall in love with the characters, enjoy remarkable world-building, and experience the slow-burn romance despite loss and suffering.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffe Kennedy_credit Pritschow PhotographyJEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.

Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy.

Follow Jeffe:
Website | SFF Seven BlogTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads 

Follow SMP Romance:
Website | @SMPRomance Twitter@heroesnhearts Twitter


Q & A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
A: I always have trouble with battle scenes, so those are probably the ones I spend the most time and effort on. Conversely, I love writing sex scenes – they’re always the easiest!

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)
A: I do, though not deliberately, and I couldn’t tell you what they are offhand. Mostly they’re things that amuse me as I’m writing – I don’t know that anyone else would ever spot them.

Q: What do you hope people remember about it?
A: Mostly I hope readers will come away with a feeling – of power and hopefulness. I want readers to feel reenergized and ready to take on their daily lives after finishing this book. And, of course, excited to read book 2 😉


 

Book Reviews

Twisted Fates (Twisted Trilogy #3) by Geza Tatrallyay

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Twisted Fates

Title: Twisted Fates (Twisted Trilogy #3)
Author: Geza Tatrallyay
Rating: ★★★★

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Crime novelist, Greg Martens, and his wife, former Interpol agent Anne Rossiter, are once again called back to Vienna by Anne’s former boss at Interpol because Julia Saparova has disappeared a second time. Afraid that the same evil men, Sergei and Boris Polyakov, Julia’s own cousins, are behind her disappearance, Greg and Anne reenter the seedy underworld of the Russian mafia, sex-trafficking, black market arms dealing, and international terrorism, in hopes of rescuing Julia. But this time, their enemies are expecting them, and Anne stumbles into a trap, joining Julia in depraved captivity. Now the two women’s only hope is that Greg and their friends in Interpol can locate and rescue them before it’s too late—not only for them, but for the world at large…

After being married for five years, Greg Martens and Anne Rossiter make a trip down Memory Lane to Vienna. Right before their intended departure, Anne’s former Interpol boss calls to tell her that Julia Saparova, a dear friend, has once again disappeared. Caught at a crossroads between going to the place where Julia currently is and where she is supposedly going, Anne and her husband separate. But when Anne arrives at her destination, she is caught in the planned trap by the men who have caused her so much harm in the past. Now, it is up to Greg to rescue his wife and friend. Can he do it before it is too late?!

I liked the story-within-a-story aspect that we see. It brings the story to a nice close. I’ll be honest, I hated the ending! The relationship was just so rushed and I don’t know how either of them could do that to someone they loved. Please, you both need time to grieve! If it was me, I’d haunt them! haha

Caution to those who are sensitive to rape and human trafficking. There are some brutal scenes and language. It is not unnecessary and is significant to the story-line of the novel.

This was a great ending to a fast-paced and action-packed trilogy. The growth of the characters is apparent and the research put into the story is impressive. While it is part of a series, I believe that this novel would be able to be read as a standalone.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geza

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Geza escaped with his family in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution, immigrating to Canada the same year. He grew up in Toronto, attending the University of Toronto Schools, where he was School Captain. He graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Human Ecology in 1972 (after taking a break in his studies to work as a host in the Ontario Pavilion at Expo70 in Osaka, Japan). Geza was selected as a Rhodes Scholar from Ontario, attending Oxford University and graduating with a BA/MA in Human Sciences in 1974; he completed his studies with a MSc in Economics from London School of Economics in 1975. Geza represented Canada as an epée fencer in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Geza’s professional experience has included government, international organizations, finance and environmental entrepreneurship. Since 2004, he has been semi-retired, managing investments mainly in the clean energy sector and devoting himself to his family and his writing. Geza is a citizen of Canada and Hungary, a green card holder with an American wife, a daughter living in San Francisco and a son in Nairobi, and currently divides his time between Barnard, Vermont, and San Francisco.

Besides the three “Twisted’ thrillers, Geza has published an e-thriller, ARCTIC MELTDOWN, and has another international political thriller, THE RAINBOW VIINTNER, under contract and due to be published later this year.

Besides his novels, Geza had had two memoirs published: FOR THR CHILDREN, the true story of his family’s harrowing escape from Stalinist Hungary during the Revolution in 1956, and THE EXPO AFFAIR, the story of three Czechoslovak girls he tried to help defect to Canada at EXPO 70 the world’s fair in Osaka, Japan in 1970.

Geza’s poems have been published in journals and two of his poetry collections – CELLO’S TEARS and SIGHS AND MURMURS – were published by P.R.A. Publishing. You can find more out about all these books at www.gezatatrallyay.com.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Q&A

Q: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

A: My greatest challenge in writing the book was whether I should have Anne die in the novel or not. Indeed, this was an extremely heavy decision because she was so integral to the story of all three books in the trilogy. It is she, who early on in the first book, TWISTED REASONS, is the one who pursues a serious investigation of the disappearance of Adam Kallay, Greg’s friend, and together they get drawn into the much bigger international affair of the heist of nuclear material from Mayak. But the other beautiful woman in the trilogy, Julia, is always there behind the scenes. She is more often than not the victim, and it is unquestionable that there is an attraction between Greg and Julia. Greg happens into a wonderful love affair with Anne–this was also a difficult choice to make, not just for Greg, but even more so for me as a writer–and at the end of the first book, the two get married. In TWISTED  TRAFFICK, the second volume, it is very much Anne who takes the lead on investigating the disappearance of Julia and tracks the evil gang that trafficks women from the former Soviet Empire (as well as trades in stolen nuclear material, other arms, drugs and even human body parts). In TWISTED FATES, the third book, too, it is she who leads on the chase after the gang–in a sense, she has taken over from Greg as the main protagonist–until she is captured by the gang. It is then up to Greg to rescue both ladies and I decided as I was writing this volume that one of the women had to die in that rescue attempt. It would be too easy for that to be the slightly less important figure in the trilogy i.e. Julia and I think having it be Anne makes the story more interesting. Certainly, Julia back story is fascinating and this allows me to weave into the story some interesting developments and questions. I would be keen on hearing what my readers’ think.


TWISTED FATES is the third novel in the ‘Twisted’ trilogy of international crime thrillers. All three books can be ordered by local bookstores and are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart etc. in paperback and / or e-book format.
Enjoy the series!
Book Reviews

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty (Dangerous Beauty #3) by Angela Hunt

Delilah

Title: Delilah: Treacherous Beauty (Dangerous Beauty #3)
Author: Angela Hunt
Rating: ★★★★★

A Complex and Compelling Glimpse at One of the Bible’s Baddest Girls
Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself.
When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.

This is a historical fiction novel based on the story of Samson and Delilah. Living in a time where women don’t have as much power, especially if they are an “outsider”, Delilah and her mother move to Philistia to live with her mother’s new husband. However, things quickly turn sour when Adinai dies and they are left at the hands of her miserable step-brother, Achish. Always wanting Delilah for her beauty, he takes advantage of her daily and sells her mother into slavery. Only after she escapes the hands of Achish does Delilah realize that she is with child. She will stop at nothing to rescue her mother and get the revenge on Achish that he deserves.

Delilah – Mother; Betrayer; Foreigner

Samson – Strongman;Judge of Israel; taken advantage of by women he cares for

Two very unlikely matches find themselves in a love story. But in order to be free of Achish, Delilah must betray the one she loves.

A story of love, deceit, betrayal, and an exciting account of the Bible, Delilah will have readers fall in love with a story of venerability and mercy.

Book Reviews

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire, #1) by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and FireTitle: Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire, #1)
Author: Natasha Ngan
Rating: ★★★★★

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king.
It’s the highest honour they could hope for…
And the most demeaning.

This year, there’s a ninth girl.
And instead of paper,
She’s made of fire.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl whose golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. There, Lei does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

Please be aware that this contains scenes of violence and sexual assault.

This is probably the best book I have read in 2019! I am beyond excited for the sequel coming out in November and especially since I will be getting a FairyLoot special edition to match the one currently sitting all pretty up on my bookshelf.

Girls of Paper and Fire brings to life problems still present in today’s culture. We have the Paper Caste (fully human), the Steel Caste (part human, part demon), and the Moon Caste (fully demon). We see the oppression imposed on by the upper castes and the prejudice present.

I like to think there’s some good behind even the darkest sins. That death can be warranted if it paves the way for hope.

In a world where caste determines all, oppression rules all. Lei’s mother was captured by royal guards and hasn’t been heard from in over a decade. Now, ten years later, Lei is about to receive the same outcome. Being of the lowest caste: Paper, Lei’s unique golden eyes make her an object of interest to the Demon King.

Lei is such a relatable character. Her struggles and her reactions show how imperfect she is. She isn’t the most beautiful character in all of the land, she doesn’t always make the right choices, and she isn’t always confident in her decisions. She is perfectly human. Even the other girls have struggles of their own and they all react differently.

They can take and steal and break all they want, but there is one thing they have no control over. Out emotions. Our feelings. Our thoughts. None of them will ever be able to control the way we feel. Our minds and hearts are our own. That is our power”

After weeks of being treated like a slave, Lei and eight other women learn the secrets of piquing the King’s interest and becoming one of his consorts. Only being privy to the King and doing what suits his needs, Lei finds herself in a compromising situation: in love.

What I love most about this novel is the romance between Lei and Wren. For once, we find ourselves with a natural, slow-moving romance unlike most Young Adult Fiction these days.

But I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one.

Girls of Paper and Fire is a arresting, diverse story of overcoming oppression, the beauty of love, and the strength of women.

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2) by Krista & Becca Ritchie

lasthope-blogtourbanner

Welcome to my stop on The Last Hope book tour! Thank you to Wednesday Books for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Last Hope

Title: THE LAST HOPE (The Raging Ones, #2)
Author: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Pub. Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

A stunning conclusion to the sci-fi romance duology by writing duo Krista & Becca Ritchie, The Last Hope is filled with twists and turns you’ll never see coming.

Sacrifice all you have to survive. 

Imprisoned for weeks on an enemy starcraft, Franny, Court, and Mykal have sat with an unfathomable revelation. But as they fight to stay alive, escaping prison means trusting a young mysterious stranger. He knows everything about their lost histories, and when answers aren’t given freely, the bonded trio are forced to join a mission. One that will determine the fate of humanity.

Legend says, a baby—the first of her species—has the power to cloak and teleport planets. Tasked with retrieving the infant, Court fears the baby is just a myth, and if they fail, they’ll never find the truth about their origins.

As Court and Mykal grow closer, their linked bond becomes harder to hide, and dynamics change when Franny begins to fall for someone new. Vulnerable and with no choice, the hunt for the baby sends the trio on a dangerous path to Saltare-1: a water world where their enemies can’t die and survival comes at a high cost.

Buy the novel:
Here


REVIEW

After all that we’ve been through, we deserve a better ending.

The story leads off right where we last saw our beloved trio, Franny, Court, and Mykal…captured and in prison. When a stranger offers a way out, they are quick to accept the offer. Slowly, they start to discover secrets from their past and the reason for their existence. Will they choose freedom or saving the planet?!

In a world where everyone knows the day they will die, we follow three teenagers on a journey to defy all odds. But these three have a bigger secret…they are linked and can feel the thoughts and feelings of the other. After three admirals sacrifice their lives for the trio to be released, they start to realize that their lives are apart of something more. And Stork, their rescuer, won’t tell them anything.

Set to rescue a baby from Saltare-1 and save Earth, Franny, Court, and Mykal discover more about each other, but most importantly, about themselves. Through the majority of the book, we witness the self-exploration of the three. We see the undying love they have for each other through their self-sacrifice and risks they each take in order to ensure the safety of the others.

Does anyone else have a crush on Stork?! Ever since meeting him, I knew that he was probably going to be my favorite character. Everything he goes through to do things the correct way and cause the least amount of pain to our protagonists shows how crazily connected everything is in the story. I ship him and who he couples with (sorry, no spoilers!)

Krista and Becca are so creative! The ending is everything I could ask for and more! I feel like a proud parent.

The Last Hope is the epic conclusion to The Raging Ones duology. While this novel is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone. The Last Hope is a story of survival, self-exploration, and friendship.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Krista & Becca Ritchie_Author PhotoKrista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times Bestselling Authors and identical twins, one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek. With their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Graduates from the University of Georgia in Biology and English & Journalism, the twin writing duo now lives in Atlanta. The Raging Ones is their first young adult novel.

Follow Krista & Becca:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Krista’s Goodreads | Becca’s Goodreads


Q & A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

A: The action at the end was quite challenging. We wanted every moment to be adrenaline-filled while also making sure that each character had the correct closure since it’d be some of the final scenes in the book. The beginning was the easiest by far. THE LAST HOPE picks up right where THE RAGING ONES leaves off – with Franny, Court, and Mykal in peril – and grabbing hold of those emotions felt seamless as we began writing.

 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)

A: We hid some little Easter eggs in THE RAGING ONES! We reference “surface plasmons” – and our granddad, a theoretical physicist, first predicted the existence of surface plasmons in the 50s. And we largely joke about the fish-out-of-water humor between Mykal and Stork in THE LAST HOPE as being Guardians of the Galaxy style of humor. Especially when Mykal has no idea what the word “guy” or “boyfriend” means and Stork tries to define these for him.

 

Q: What do you hope people remember about it?

A:The characters. The soul-mate bonds and even the platonic love between friends. Whenever we write, our biggest goal is to write characters that stay with readers.


 

Book Reviews

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies, #1) by Megan Shepherd

Grim LoveliesTitle: Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies, #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Rating: ★★

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

Grim Lovelies: ★★

In the streets of Paris, magic rules all. The Haute, a social class made up of magical witches and goblins have power over all other social classes. Pretties, humans who live alongside the Haute, live unbeknownst to the magic surrounding them. Then, finally, Beasties…animals forbiddingly turned into humans in order to serve the Haute.

Anouk, Beau, Cricket, Luc, and Hunter Black are the Beasties Mada Vittora turned from animals to humans. Witches have human “sons” who they use the blood of in order to attain more power for casting spells. Mada Vittora’s son, Viggo, is as rotten as the witch who keeps the Beasties as slaves. One day, Mada Vittora is murdered, and the Beasties have three days to find another witch to cast the Beastie spell on them or they will be turned back to the animals they were once more.

I just didn’t buy this story. The romance came out of nowhere and wasn’t believable. Anouk could make every mistake there is and somehow she always overcame it…and with such perfection. I mean, no training and able to perform magic no one else in the whole word can achieve after their whole life being devoted to it?! Come on! Probably one of the most annoying things is Beau calling her “Cabbage”. I don’t even know how it came about and who would want a nickname of a smelly vegetable?!

Not surprisingly, Shepherd created more likable characters that saw much more growth than the “good guys”. Viggo probably ended up being my favorite character. But, even then, they weren’t even real villains. They were so wishy-washy and so easily manipulated for good. I mean, Anouk, pretty much caused more harm to the protagonists than the villains even did. Or, even the side characters.

I was really excited for something a little darker for once, but this fell flat for me. I didn’t care for any of the protagonists and for someone who is a big fan of villains, even these didn’t seem to hit the spot. Hopefully other people enjoyed this more than I did! The premise for the next installment seems promising? Maybe? Hopefully?

villains