Category Archives: Fantasy

The Other series by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow. – Goodreads

This…it’s seriously a contender for my top favorite series of 2017. Sure, it’s only June, but still…I loved this series. I read books 1-4, so this review is for the entire series. It’s a little difficult to cover an entire series, so bear with me.

The books are written in third-person, which allows the reader to get a glimpse into everyone’s emotions and views. This was especially handy because each, er, species of individual views humans (or Others) differently.

My favorite part of the entire series were the characters — everyone, no matter how small, was developed well. Though Meg was extremely annoying with her naive nature and almost juvenile ways, it made sense with her upbringing. Throughout the series you can see Meg grow and become stronger. Simon also changed dramatically throughout the entire series.

The underlying romance plot is light and is almost an afterthought. Without giving too much away, I found myself subconsciously BEGGING the author to make some sparks fly or something. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE.

Anne Bishop is a great writer — I was completely enveloped in the world she had crafted. If you enjoy fantasy fiction, seriously, do yourself a favor and pick this up.

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast? – Goodreads

This book was beautifully written — I couldn’t put it down. I’m a sucker for a fairytale retelling and this one was one of the best I’ve read.

Yeva is beautiful — almost obnoxiously so, as the book kept referring to it (my only qualm with the story). Yeva doesn’t want to settle down and get married — she wants to spend her days outdoors, hunting like her father. When her father goes crazy hunting for a creature in the woods, Yeva decides to track the creature as well.

I enjoyed Yeva’s character. She was deep, I could connect with her, and I truly cared about her. I also like the Beast’s character — though the “plot twist” was super obvious, I enjoyed his story and how he came to be.

The world was constructed well — I could picture the castle, the woods, the dogs, everything. I enjoyed the magical elements and how the parallel magical world played into the “real” world.

I can’t say too much more without giving it away — if you enjoy fairytale retellings, definitely give this one a shot. I rated it a 5/5 on Goodreads and added it to my favorites shelf.

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Series: The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice… Continue reading

Eidolon by Grace Draven

29953452In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis, unleashes a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by darkness. His human wife Ildiko must decide if he will give up the man she loves in order to save his throne.

Three kingdoms on the verge of war must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king will raise an army of the dead to challenge an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice. – Goodreads

Gahhhh. I can’t even handle how much I enjoyed this book. I was in a major book slump and this busted me out of it, so I’m thankful for that. I finished this sucker in 48 hours.

I read Radiance last year and loved it — I probably should have read a refresher before jumping into this, but it didn’t take long for me to remember what happened.

First things first — love the love that Brishen and Ildiko have. I’m not a big fan of sap, but gahh. I just can’t. I love what they have. It helps that I was able to watch it blossom in the first book, but seeing it continue in this second installment was awesome. I’ll leave it at that.

This book moved so damn fast. That’s my main gripe. And it was a bit choppy in parts — the cadence was a little off. Some things took forever (IE, banquets) but important, cool things (IE, transforming into a Wraith King) went by in a few pages. It was a little bit jarring and the last quarter of the book felt very rushed, but I guess there is a third installment coming.

It’s difficult to get into much detail with a sequel. The worldbuilding was continued and fantastic, love the character development, loved the multiple points-of-view…pick up a Draven novel if you haven’t yet.

L

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The Sea Queen by Jovee Winters

25739661Calypso, Queen of the Seas, is mad. Spitting mad. Ghosts of the dead are fouling her waters. She wants this problem fixed, and she wants it fixed now. Rushing off in search of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, to demand answers, she’s soon shocked to discover him bound and standing trial before a jury of his peers—for nothing less than murder.

Calypso normally despises the beastly gods, all of them, but there’s something about seeing Hades bound as he is that gives her an evilly clever idea. Tired of being a virgin queen, she wishes to shed that boring image once and for all, and no one seems quite as fit for the task as the gorgeous and brooding Hades. Of course, there is the minor problem of murder to deal with, but Calypso is bound and determined to have her way.

And when a dark queen gets an idea, nothing and no one can stand in her way… – Goodreads

Read on if you’re over 18. This review contains adult themes.

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

18798983One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end. – Goodreads

The moment I hit 100% on my Kindle, I decided I hated this book.

Why? Because it was too damn short and left me with a serious book hangover that no other book is curing at the moment.

Despite featuring several things that I completely despise (IE, love triangle, instalove, a heroine who can’t seem to focus on her one job), I absolutely fell in love with this book and could not put it down.

To start, it was written beautifully. It flowed, it created pictures in my head, I could imagine each and every character with ease. The words themselves were beautiful. This is why I love reading. Hell, I love this book.

I fell in love with all of the characters, despite their flaws. I fell in love with Shazi, for being pigheaded, smartmouthed, honest and apparently totally stupid. I fell in love with Khalid for being this mysterious murderous man with a ton of secrets. And Despina. And Jalal. Damn it.

Basically Shazi’s best friend, became one of Khalid’s many murdered wives. To get revenge, Shazi volunteers to be a wife so she can kill him. I’ll admit—I was annoyed that she never even tried to take a stab at him, mostly because she fell in love with his tiger eyes within 10 seconds. She definitely thought about it a lot, though.

So, yeah. There were some parts I didn’t understand.

The book is a series, so not all of my questions were answered in this book. I can’t wait for book two to come out.

Despite its flaws, I rated this debut a 5/5 and added it to my favorites list while sobbing because I finished it way too damn fast.

L

 

Wishing For a Highlander by Jessi Gage

25189903Single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie voices an idle wish while examining a Scottish artifact, that a Highland warrior would sweep her off her feet and help her forget her cheating ex. The last thing she expects is for her wish to be granted. Magically transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in the sixteenth-century Highlands, she comes face to face with her kilted fantasy man.

Tall, handsome, and heir to his uncle’s lairdship, Darcy Keith should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill. Instead, thanks to a prank played on him in his teenage years, he is known for being too large under his kilt to ever make a proper husband. “Big Darcy” runs his deceased father’s windmills and lives alone at his family manor, believing he will never marry.

But a strangely dressed woman he rescues from a clan skirmish makes him long for more. When the woman’s claims of coming to Ackergill by magic reach the laird’s ears, she is accused of witchcraft. Darcy determines to protect her any way he can, even if it means binding her to him forever. – Goodreads

Alright. Whether your love or hate highlander fiction (especially of the romantic variety), that description will either send you running for the hills or running to download a $3.99 Kindle edition. I was clearly in the latter camp.

I never realized that I would be a total fan of highlander fiction until a coworker urged me to read Outlander last year (oh my goodness—I just went to hyperlink this and I realized I read it a year from the date I finished THIS highlander novel. NICE!). Fell in love.

This one popped up on BookBub at a discount so I bought it. It’s been sitting in my Kindle library for a while. I was at a loss at what to read the other night so I said f***k it and started reading. Then I was hooked. It was instantly hilarious and the action started right away.

I’m gonna go ahead and add a ‘read more’ link because it was a ~very~ steamy book not meant for young adults/kids—mature audiences only.

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Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby

15808673Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good. – Goodreads

It’s taken me a few days to write this, primarily because I’ve been busy adulting and buying a house. It makes me very excited to say that, should we get this house, there will be a room that will have no television and will be used for reading. How exciting is that?! Not a reading nook, but a sunroom…I’ll take it.

The other reason that has been holding me back from writing this review is a small part in the book. A small part that really bugged me, but kind of-sort of redeemed itself. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed the book. But I almost put it down because of a rape scene.

I am not a fan of rape scenes. I feel that they’re overdone in fantasy and do little to propel the story forward. I can think of ONE book where the rape scene actually contributed to the story and main character, where she used the incident to bounce back and do good for others.

This was not such a scene.

She tried to ignore it. Mild discomfort, she told herself. It’s mild discomfort, nothing more.

She chalked it up to practice for seducing the emperor. Um, no. Rape is not practice. Rape is a violation of your body and self. It is not effing mild discomfort. 

For a while, it’s as if the scene never happened. She kills him mid-orgasm (no joke—it’s the only time to kill a battle wizard) and runs away. It takes half of the book to bring it up again and then she’s pained by it. But even then, the pain is a cover up for a different issue. I was very disappointed in how it was handled.

Vitala is the worst assassin in the world. She has had one job for eight years: kill the emperor. He’s a battle wizard, so it has to be mid-orgasm, when his mind is most occupied so he won’t see an attack coming. Seriously. Anyway, she keeps getting distracted and decides she just wants to bone him all the time, and doesn’t kill him.

The emperor is an amputee, which was different and neat. He was by far the most complex character, which isn’t saying much.

It reeked of instalove, a characteristic that I can’t stand.

Despite this, I really enjoyed the way the sentences and words flowed. I enjoyed Raby’s writing style—it’s what kept me in the story.

Overall, I’d rate it a 3/5 on Goodreads. I enjoyed the read for the most part, but it’s not a favorite.

Master of Crows by Grace Draven

6811150What would you do to win your freedom? This is the question that sets bondwoman, Martise of Asher, on a dangerous path. In exchange for her freedom, she bargains with her masters, the mage-priests of Conclave, to spy on the renegade sorcerer, Silhara of Neith. The priests want Martise to expose the sorcerer’s treachery and turn him over to Conclave justice. A risky endeavor, but one she accepts without hesitation–until she falls in love with her intended target.

Silhara of Neith, Master of Crows, is a desperate man. The god called Corruption invades his mind, seducing him with promises of limitless power if he will help it gain dominion over the world. Silhara struggles against Corruption’s influence and searches for ways to destroy the god. When Conclave sends Martise as an apprentice to help him, he knows she’s a spy. Now he fights a war on two fronts–against the god who would possess him and the apprentice who would betray him.

Mage and spy search together for a ritual that will annihilate Corruption, but in doing so, they discover secrets about each other that may damn them both. Silhara must decide if his fate, and the fate of nations, is worth the soul of the woman he has come to love, and Martise must choose continued enslavement or freedom at the cost of a man’s life. And love. – Goodreads

So, as you may know, I’m kind of on a Draven kick right now after finishing Radiance. And let me tell you, she didn’t let me down with this one.

First off, let me get my nitpicks out of the way so we can focus on the good. The good definitely outweighs the bad.

The first 15-25% is very slow, and threw a ton of worldbuilding jargon at the reader. The first chapter had me so damn confused, I felt like I’d been plopped in the middle of the book. Who the hell was Corruption and who the hell was this man talking to it? Was he possessed? WTF. No lead up, just boom, right in the middle. It was jarring. Then Martise came into the picture, and I had a brief, “Shit, Stockholm Syndrome,” moment for about 15% of the book. It took way too long for me to get sucked in, but once I did…

It was great. The characters are complex and deep, though I would have liked to see more from Martise. I really enjoyed their weird little angsty romance, especially after the angst-free romance from Radiance. The side characters were fantastic, too. Once I had the worldbuilding under control and understood it, I did appreciate how it all came together. It was just a little rough getting there.

Draven writes beautifully, and I love how effortlessly the conversation and wit flows. I found myself laughing out loud in some parts, which is refreshing.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Draven’s work to those who enjoy fantasy and romance. I rated Master of Crows 4/5 on Goodreads.

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Radiance by Grace Draven

21463865An arranged marriage between Ildiko, niece to the King of Gauri, and Brishen, a prince from Kai, seals a treaty for power, wealth and protection from the Belawat. – Goodreads

You know what’s unfortunate? Judging a book by its cover. Thank goodness for fabulous Amazon and Goodreads reviewers or I never would have dropped the several bucks I did for this. In fact, even after I bought it months ago, I didn’t read until now (because I’m all caught up on my TBR list).

I am now officially a huge fan of Grace Draven and just bought two more of her books. I’m not entirely sure that this review can do her justice—to put it bluntly, I think it’s safe to say that this book is in my top ten list.

Ildiko is a human girl, the niece of a King, a disposable pawn to marry off in order to strengthen relations. Brishen, a Kai prince, is also a marriage pawn—but he’s not human. He’s Kai. They are the color of a dead eel, with fangs like a wolf and long, dark claws. They’re terrifying.

The best part? Humans are creepy to them, too. Which was awesome, because Draven is HILARIOUS. They both think each other completely hideous but begin their marriage as friends. In fact, they grow to be best friends, despite their differences.

This story was adorable. It was about two people—people who mean nothing, according to Ildiko—who are thrust together and who make the most of it by treating each other with kindness and trying to survive. It was just…so…sweet. I loved that they got along, respected each other, and were so, so kind to one another. I could see a lot of people disliking the book for this reason—zero angst—and that’s okay. I adored it 🙂

All of the drama was external—family, politics, war, etc. So, there was definitely some action and influences to keep the plot moving. This is also an adult novel, so there are sex scenes (which, by the way, were written beautifully and sensually).

I highly recommend and can see myself pushing this on EVERYONE for the next long while. Can’t wait to tuck into another one of Draven’s books right away. I rated this a 5/5 on Goodreads and added it to my favorites shelf 🙂

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