Book Reviews

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the SwordTitle: Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Rating: ★★★

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Shadow of the Fox: ★★★
Soul of the Sword: ★★★

Soul of the Sword is exactly how the title reads. The story delves into the relationship between the Demonslayer and Hakaimono. We see a different side to these characters. The only problem is…I’m not sure that I like it.

One thing I wish the novel had more of was the supporting characters. Shadow of the Fox left me wanting to know each and every one of their stories. I was just left hanging on some of them.

Soul of the Sword is the picture of loyalty, love, and justice. Some parts even took me for a spin and the next installment is sure to bring some more!

Check out my review for Shadow of the Fox.

Book Reviews

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1) by Hafsah Faizal

we hunt the flameTitle: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Rating: ★★★

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.
Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

We Hunt the Flame: ★★★★

Originally, this novel was listed as a retelling of Aladdin, but I only see a small similarity to the original story. What starts out as a slow-paced read quickly turns into one of action and suspense. I was hoping for some more of the Middle Eastern influence incorporated in the story, but I didn’t get much besides for a mention of food here and a little geographic there.

There once was a boy with a future.
Until all he had left was his past.

I’ll be honest. Faizal crushed me with the death of my favorite character. Which, like always, the authors like to crush my dreams and have the protagonist choose the guy I don’t want them to. And then I fall for another character and it seems he may be turning evil wahhhh!

crying

The Hunter is depicted as a hero who provides food for her village, a legend, feared for her constant survival in a deadly forest. But what secret lies beneath those clothes?

The Prince of Death is a legend in his own, killer of those who defy the king. What is he hiding?

We find two people whose appearance seems to be fearless, but who are actually a lot weaker. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not sure if I buy it.

Let the games begin and the deception fly!

jewel

We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves. You are like Tamin. You remind me that hope is not lost.

I’m interested to see how the story will play out. It was surprising that epilogue included someone very briefly touched upon in the novel. I don’t think I’m ready for a story with her viewpoint. I want the story how it is now finished first before we head somewhere else!

aladdin

Book Reviews

Esther: Royal Beauty (Dangerous Beauty #1) by Angela Hunt

Esther

Title: Esther: Royal Beauty (Dangerous Beauty #1)
Author: Angela Hunt
Rating: ★★★★★

A Bible story brought to life! After she is forcibly taken to the palace of the king, a beautiful young Jewish woman, known to the Persians as Esther, wins a queen’s crown and then must risk everything in order to save her people . . . and bind her husband’s heart…

An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart.

Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt’s return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her–and can change the course of history.

Esther: Royal Beauty ★★★★★

This is a historical fiction novel based on the story of Esther. Living in a time where women are seen more as objects than equals, Hadassah dreams of becoming a royal one day. After both of her parents die, Hadassah is sent to live with her cousin and his wife. Not truly understanding the life of a royal, she wants more than the simple life her cousin provides and is content with.

After getting bored with his current wife, Xerxes sends out a royal decree in the search of a new wife. Men go on the lookout for these women and kidnap them in exchange for money. On the way to freedom with her betrothed, Esther is captured and brought to the king’s eunuchs. When presented to the king’s eunuchs, these women are prepped and pampered to impress the king. However, only one will be chosen and the rest will be sentenced to lives as the king’s concubines. In a place where Jews are viewed as inferior and killed for no reason other than their nationality, Hadassah cannot let anyone in the castle know her secret, so she changes her name to Esther.

Esther is the first presented to the king and chosen as his new Queen. However, she receives all of the king’s attention in the beginning, until her own unhappiness reveals itself after losing her first child. After that, the king seeks the comfort of others.

When a new counselor takes an evil approach to Jews, especially Esther’s cousin, Esther must stand up for what she believes, even if that means risking her life. With the help of the king’s eunuch, Harbonah, Esther finds true friendship and empathy.

Hadassah (“Esther”) – Queen; Beautiful; Courageous

Harbonah – Eunuch; Gentle; Emphathetic

A story of growth, disappointment, ambition, and an exciting account of the Bible, Esther will have readers fall in love with a story of righteousness and maturity.

Book Reviews

Furyborn (Empirium, #1) by Claire Legrand

Furyborn

Title: Furyborn (Empirium, #1)
Author: Claire Legrand
Rating: ★★★

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

 Furyborn: ★★★

Meet Rielle, a girl with a secret. After saving her best friend and crush, not to mention her other friend’s fiance, her powers are exposed. But this means either a life of glory or death for her depending on the outcome. After the king sees her powers, he has Rielle engage in a series of “tests” to prove if she is a prophesied queen of light or queen of blood. 

zuko

Meet Eliana, a girl with no fears except losing those she loves. After the disappearance of her mother, she joins sides with the “Wolf” in exchange for his help with finding her mother.

girl fighting

What I really admired about this novel was that we see two courageous girls a millennium apart, yet woven seamlessly together. Legrand sculpted two beautifully crated women that possess so many qualities that I admire and I can’t choose a favorite (said no one ever)!

Perhaps if nothing else, what’s happened has taught you that there is more to life – and even to war – than simply staying alive.

Book Reviews, Food

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Rating: ★★★

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

So many people absolutely adored this novel and were super excited for the next installment…Muse of Nightmares. I wanted to love this book just as much as everyone else, however, I didn’t. The pacing was slow and there wasn’t as much action as I would’ve hoped. I’m hoping Muse of Nightmares will have more action and maybe some stronger characters. The novel just left me feeling “meh”. 

This was like a movie where the only good scenes were the ones they show in the trailer (please don’t hurt me).

mob

“No”, he said, smiling. “I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And…” His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. “I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”

However, since there was so much hype for Muse of Nightmares, I, of course, had to purchase the LitJoy Exclusive Dreams & Nightmares Crate. You can see my unboxing here.

Book Reviews

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the FoxTitle: Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Rating: ★★★

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

Yumeko: kitsune; half-fox, half human; from the Silent Winds Temple
newgirl

Tatsumi: bears the sword Kamigoroshi concealing the great demon Hakaimono; from the Shadow Clan
jace.gif

Okame: ruthless, greedy, proud…basically a samurai pirate
jack sparrow

Daisuke: royal-born, a legend, never defeated
vendetta

Zombie-like ghosts, demons, shapeshifters, magic-wielders, gods, samurais, and blood magic. What more could one ask for? Except, I found it overwhelming. I had trouble keeping everything straight and I wished the worlds were more descriptive, especially the different clans. The world-building could’ve improved.

The novel started out fast-paced and entertaining, but after the gaki, I felt my attention drifting outside of the book. I absolutely loved the gaki scene and found it the most interesting part of the story.

Normally I wouldn’t say this, but I felt like there was too much going on. Between the different creatures, the different clans, and all of the trouble the protagonists seem to find themselves in, I find some similarities between Lord of the Rings. This was an introductory novel in order to find the whole “crew” on the fight for the next villain.

I would’ve loved to learn more about the different clans, and have less action. It just seemed like the author was more interested in introducing the reader to the different creatures instead of building the world first and adding in the creatures. I think it would’ve kept my attention longer that way.

With that being said, I think there is a lot of potential to world build and growth from the characters in Soul of the Sword. Hopefully the story line will be more linear and easier to follow.

Book Reviews

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1) by Kaylyn Josephson

The Storm Crow

Title: The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1)
Author: Kaylyn Josephson
Rating: ★★★

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Thia, our protagonist, is daughter to the queen of Rhodaire. And Rhodaire is home to a special kind of magic…elemental crows. Fire crows, storm crows, earth crows, sun crows, you get the picture. These crows are essential to the daily life of those living in Rhodaire.

crow

Thia, the daughter who wants nothing to do with royalty, starts out the story by riding one of these elemental crows…of course getting into trouble. But, soon, Thia will have a crow of her very own.

But things take a turn for the worst before we know it and the Illucians come and set fire to everything in their wake…including the crows and Thia’s mother. Her sister, Caliza is now the new Queen and in order to save Rhodaire, has promised Thia to Prince Ericen in a marriage proposal.

When all hope seems lost of the revival of Rhodaire, Thia comes across a crow egg amongst the rubble. The only problem is, she has no idea how to hatch a crow egg, it being a secret tradition she just barely missed before the destruction of Rhodaire. Caylus, a cute outcast from another overthrown kingdom may be able to help. But no one can find out that they are hiding a crow egg.

crow1

What will happen to the crow egg Thia found? Will she be able to hatch it? Will Rhodaire be restored? Which guy will she choose?

Let me just say, I’m sick of girls getting promised to other princes as their brides by everyone else. Let’s see some other storyline! And girls, stop picking the guys I don’t want you to pick! Ugh! Give me something new. Love triangles are out! Monogamous relationships are in (at least for me)!

The expected publication date is July 9, 2019.