Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Star-Touched Queen series, book 1

Description (taken from Rochani Chokshi's website):
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

Maya has been doomed with a fate that no one wants near them.  She grows up with her sisters and step-mothers, the first all betrothed and the second loathsome.  They don't want her around because all she brings is death.  But when her father makes a bargain no one expects, Maya finds herself in the middle of a plot to bring peace.  But is peace easily won?

After following Amar to his kingdom, Maya finds out that nothing is at it seems.  The stories she used to tell her sister are suddenly more than just stories.  And while Amar wants her by his side as an equal, Maya finds secrets holding her trust back.  Who can she trust when no one tells her the truth?

This story is so enticing.  It's cleverly written and ties together so well.  I was in love with it until I realized there were only twenty pages left.  I didn't think this story could come up with a good conclusion in just twenty pages.  Maybe I wanted more, or maybe I felt like my head was thrown back to reality too soon.  But the ending was disappointing to me.  I wanted a clever ending to fit the rest of the story, but I didn't get it.  However it doesn't stop me from loving this little story.

I'm glad I picked this book up.  And it's a series.  I'll have to pick up the next one...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Covenant Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Jennifer L Armentrout's website):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi–pure bloods–have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much.

Half-bloods only have two options: become trained sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden.

And that would kind of suck.

Alex has been on the run with her mother for three years now.  They've been in hiding from their kind as well as from daimons.  That is until a daimon finds them and kills her mother.  As she tries to find her way home, Sentinels who are highly trained fighters, find her along the way.

Now that she's back at the Covenant, a school for Hematoi and half-bloods, her guardian and the school must decide what to do with her.  She's behind and can be sent home to be a servant for Pures.  Or, as a Senitnel recommends, she can train for the summer and try to catch up to her class.  I think the choice is obvious here.  But there's a few secrets that people are keeping from her.

Yes, I will say this book sounds similar to The Vampire Academy, but who cares?  It's got the kick-ass fighting, the romance, the supenatural, and the mystery.  However, I was really confused with how the supernatural worked: pures and halfs?  There weren't a whole lot of powers going on.  And I had to keep reminding myself that the daimons weren't vampires.  But I still got into the story.

I'm glad I finally started this series.  It's an easy read, and I plan on continuing on.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Wrath & The Dawn Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Renee Ahdieh's website):
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family–who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid–and her childhood sweetheart Tariq, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

This book picks up right where the last one left off: with Tariq rescuing Shahrzad from the Caliph.  But Shahrzad didn't need any rescuing.  And while she wants to go back to Khalid, she realizes her family needs her in the camp.  Her father is very injured and won't wake up, yet he clings to an old, mystical book.  And can Shahrzad really help Khalid by returning to him, or can she break the curse some other way?

This book starts off with Khalid's enemy encampment.  The one Tariq is help leading.  And even though he's rescued Shahrzad and convinced he can make her fall in love with him again, he's not getting what he bargained for.  And Irza, Shahrzad's sister?  She's barely growing up and trying so hard to keep her family together.  But how can she when not even her sister will confide in her?  So many choices to make that revolve around each other.  In the end, will Shahrzad and Khalid get their happily ever after?

I'm going to start with this:  I probably would have liked this book more if I had read it right after the first.  It did not do a good job of refreshing what happened in the first, and I spent the first half of the book stumbling through the story.  But once I got into it, I couldn't put the book down.  But I felt like more questions came up than were answered.  And I got so distracted by the side stories and the answers I was missing that I kind of missed the happy ending.  I'm still stuck on the mystical book.  And Artan.  And the justification for people's loyalties.  And now the series is over?  Ugh, I missed it.

I'm definitely going to recommend people read the second book right after the first one.  Then maybe you won't be as lost as me...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Glittering Court Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Richelle Mead's website):
Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies capable of arranging powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands. . . .

Okay, okay, so I didn't delve right into the synopsis and put two and two together.  I read Glittering Court; that's a title for fairies, right?  Yeah, my bad...  I didn't realize what I was going to get was a fantasy telling of a masculine people from a well-established society moving into a new world and searching for gold.

Adelaide is a sheltered countess on the brink of bankruptcy when her grandma announces a match to solve their problems.  But Adelaide doesn't want this.  Instead she escapes to a finishing school that eventually takes its women to the new world and sells them as wives to the highest bidder (irony, right?).  But somehow Adelaide makes the most of it and finds an unlikely friend in Cedric, the business owner's son.  And soon enough, Adelaide finds herself in the middle of controversy while trying to be her own person.

I really need to get something off my chest.  Richelle Mead is one of my favorite (if not favorite) authors, and I have kind of fallen flat with the last two novels of hers I've read.  But back to the story and my thoughts.  To me, it wasn't executed well.  The romance between the two characters was cute.  But I couldn't really get over the whole premise of running away from an arranged marriage into the hands of another arranged marriage.  That idea kind of bothered me.  And the back stories surrounding the side characters: it was left in mystery and not well-explained which left me with plot holes.  I don't like plot holes.  I want a perfectly executed story that has thought of every little detail and how it makes the whole story make even more sense.

Gah, I just can't.  And I found out it's a series.  A series?  Why?  Maybe to tell us more about those side characters?  I'm not sure I can continue though.  (I would suggest reading other reviews for this one.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
Mercy Thompson Series, Book 9

Note:  This is a well-established paranormal series.  Read anything below at your own risk if you've never read these books.

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

This book starts out like any mature, normal paranormal romance series starts: with the main character poking fun of her love interest.  That is until the supernatural gets in the way and demands attention.  As the werewolves go to fight a troll on a bridge in order to protect their city, they find Mercy demanding more than she bargained for.

Mercy meets what appears to be a human child, but he was once stolen by the fae.  In the process of offering him protection, she finds herself at a crossroads.  The werewolves disagree with her decision and do not want to put themselves in danger for some human.  But the fae have a lot of reasons to want this child back.  And they also seem to be hiding a lot more up their sleeves.  Will Mercy's cunning and Adam's strength be enough to protect the ones they love?

This book was easy to read and did not let me down.  I had fun going back to Mercy's world and following the new paranormal disaster.  I also felt like a lot was left unsaid in this story that might continue on in the next.  And while there are new characters entering the spotlight, it all ties together nicely in the end.

A series I fell in love with years ago.  I must continue it...

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