That ending was so much more than I expected!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz!
After the king dies in battle, his best friend makes a bonding vow with the queen to protect her and the royal heir, as well as search for the magical documents and sacred scrolls that have been missing. He has pledged his life and his heir’s life to the queen until the scrolls are found and returned. Eighteen years later, we meet Shadow and Caledon Holt (he’s the best friend’s son, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon and the Queen’s assassin). Shadow is exploring around the Abbey when Caledon saves her life by killing her would-be assassin. The bad thing is that the man Caledon kills is the queen’s brother-in-law, Prince Alast. Alast proves himself a traitor, which is shocking to Caledon. The Queen sends Caledon to Deersia Prison to appease the public and keep the traitorous evidence secret. She wants Caledon to spy and find out where the traitors stem from. Shadow catches a ride to Deersia prison as a stowaway and finds Cal and helps him escape. They move onto Montrice to discover if there’s a spy conspiring against their kingdom and Queen. Shadow and Cal are fun, dynamic characters that work together well but drive each other crazy too. I enjoyed the humor in this book as well as the intrigue and magic. The ending left me ready to read the sequel! 5 stars!
Japanese cultures and legends with a spooky aspect kept me glued to the pages of The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco!
I bought this book years ago because the synopsis intrigued me, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it until it was set as the October read for the Dragons & Tea Book Club. The first five chapters introduce us to a ghost that sees murderers and scares them to death. This ghost’s life was ended in murder and she seeks justice and rids the world of killers. She notices a teen boy with strange tattoos that he tries to keep hidden as he moves into a house in Applegate, with his father. The boy, Tarquin (Tark for short) lives alone with his father since his mother seemingly tried to kill him when he was younger. The two visit her in the psychiatric hospital and she is terrified when she sees Tark and she’s threatening harm to whoever she thinks is going to hurt him, and only she can see this being. Tark thinks he freaks her out but his mother sees a dark shadow in him. The ghost sees the shadow too. The suspense heightens immensely in the next few chapters and leaves me rooting for the ghostly woman and her strong intentions. Chapters 6- 10: The action picks up alongside the suspense and I didn’t want to stop reading! 11-14: detailed descriptions of Japanese ghost legends surrounding Okiku in the well explain the ghost’s story and the humor picks up as Tark and Callie exchange emails. 15: A group of high school boys committed horrible and mutilating acts on a young woman and this setting opens a chapter with a new murder and retribution. 16-20: Tark, his father and cousin Callie travel to the shrine where Tark’s mother grew up. They learn about her life and all the things they never knew about her from the people she was raised by and grew up with. They witness a possession and exorcism of a little boy and see the shrine’s powers at work. 20-ending: sacrifices are made, tragedy strikes and parts of the shrine are damaged and destroyed.
I love this book and read through it quickly because it was interesting, suspenseful and I grew to love the characters and wanted to know how everything turned out for them. I enjoyed learning more about Japanese culture and legends, 5 stars!
Menagerie of Japanese characters!
Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa!
The book opens with a thousand-year-old legend of a sword known as Godslayer. Tatsumi wielded this sword when it contained the demon Hakaimono. Since then, the demon has possessed Tatsumi, who continues to fight for survival against Hakaimono. Yumeko continues her mission to the Steel Feather Temple but has been waylaid with her companions to try to save Tatsumi, even though a pact was made centuries ago that if Haikaimono possessed a person, that person would be killed to stop destruction that the demon might cause. As everyone tries to thwart the demon’s plans, he shows his power and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. The plot twists as the rivalry changes and the enemy of both becomes the focus of all. Genno, the demon who wants the scroll pieces so he can summon a Kami for the wish to rule all, will be the focus of the third book in this trilogy. At times, Yumeko seems a bit dim but then she manages to pull off some amazing feats, with the help and inspiration of others; go teamwork! I also found myself struggling to keep names and descriptions straight and I’m sure that’s because I need to learn more about the Japanese culture. 4 stars for a Japanese fantasy full of a menagerie of characters!
Epic fantasy finale!
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare ends The Mortal Instruments series. As the story begins, the Los Angeles Institute and its inhabitants are introduced and then Sebastian strikes. He attacks six institutes around the world, either turning Shadowhunters into his soulless servants or killing them. The Clave orders all Shadowhunters to stay in Idris for their protection. Sebastian knows Clave protocol and he’s using it to his advantage and he’s also using the turned Shadowhunters against their loved ones because he knows the Nephilim won’t be able to stomach killing them. The Clave can’t figure out how to stop Sebastian, so Jace, Clary, Alec, Isabelle and Simon travel to the demon realms to stop him on their own. As they reach the demon realms, each one of them is haunted by a strange dream meant to convey their deepest wishes. Loss is prevalent in this book as families are separated and relationships are broken. The Mortal Instruments series has been a reading adventure. I’m happy the story continues on with The Dark Artifices series because I’m not ready to say goodbye to the world of Shadowhunters.
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare is just as intense as the rest of the series. After the end of the last book, Jace and Sebastian have been missing with no trace of where they’ve gone. Clary makes a deal with the Seelie Queen and while Clary is trying to steal faerie rings from the Institute for the Queen, Sebastian and Jace walk in. The two seem chummy and both look healthy. Clary is relieved to know that Jace is alive but concerned about his state of mind. Luke gets fatally injured; Isabelle realizes she needs Simon; Maia and Jordan travel to his leader to get help for Luke and Jocelyn and Isabelle visit the Iron Sisters to also help Luke. All this is happening as Clary leaves with Jace. Clary travels to famous cities with Jace and Sebastian as they gather what they need for their mission. During a moment of clarity, Jace tells Clary that he would rather die than follow Sebastian. Once Sebastian gets what he wants, he begins to turn Shadowhunters into his servants. Before he can turn very many, he’s stopped by Shadowhunters and werewolves. Sebastian leaves his followers behind as he runs away to save himself. Everyone has been altered in some way as the story closes and the hunt for Sebastian continues. 5 solid stars!
Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins and Harper Teen continues right after the demons almost caught the group of Nephilim on the island. The demons are discussing traitors and set up a demon meeting. They suspect Anna and her father of rebellion and plan to take them down. She is constantly running to keep safe. Kaidan is sent by the demons to take care of Anna and if he doesn’t, they will kill him. The only way they can be safe together and keep Anna righteous for the sword, is by getting married. The rebellion Nephilim become closer and become true, loyal friends while they help each other survive. Everything comes to a head and suspense and intensity build as the rebels find out who’s on their side and who’s against them. 5 stars for the touching end to the Sweet Evil trilogy!
Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins opens with a story from Rome in the 1700’s where two Nephilim are punished for loving each other. Six months have passed since book one and since Anna and Kaidan have seen each other. Kaidan and Anna know they need to stay apart for their own safety as well as the safety of the rebelling Nephilim and supporting demons. Anna has been given a mission and she’s going to be working with Kope. Their mission is to save a young woman in a part of the world where women are devalued, degraded and abused. Her name is Zania. Kope and Anna meet with two Nephilim and then their emotions get in the way, so they decide traveling together is too difficult. Anna then travels alone and she is finally able to have a conversation with Kaidan and they are finally honest with each other and learn how to make their relationship work. Unexpectedly, Kope and Kaidan work together, by wearing Arabic disguises and saving Zania by pretending to purchase her for slavery. Blake, Kaidan, Anna, Kope and Zania are forced to hide in the cold ocean water because the Dukes come to the island they are staying on. While shivering in the water, they are witnesses to a Nephilim murder by the Neph’s own father. The group works with Anna’s father, continually strategizing to build the rebellion up. Sweet Peril is just as exciting as the first book, Sweet Evil, in this supernatural series by Wendy Higgins. 5 stars!
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins is an intense ride with demons and angels. The opening reveals Anna’s beginnings as she’s born and blessed with the angelic spirit of her dying mother while her father looks on with a broken heart. Police break in and arrest her father, John LaGray, for international drug trafficking and his only remark to her is, “Just say no to drugs, will ya kid?” Fast forward to teen Anna attending a concert with her best friend, Jay. They’re enjoying the music when Anna notices the drummer. She sees others’ emotions as colors and the drummer hardly is showing any, only a small amount of red. She also notices how attractive he is. Kaidan, the drummer, keeps running into Anna after they meet backstage after the concert. He seems to know what she is and after Kaidan confronts Anna at a party, she talks to her adoptive mother, Patti and learns all the secrets that she knows about Anna’s past. Patti also warns Anna to distance herself, as far as possible, from Kaidan. Anna and Kaidan have difficulty keeping distance from each other and, due to lack of money, Patti is unable to take Anna on the trip to gather more information from her past by speaking to her imprisoned father and to Sister Ruth, the nun who was present at Anna’s birth, Kaidan offers to take Anna there. The meeting with Anna’s father goes well and she gains love and respect for him as he tells the story of his life-from living in Heaven to becoming a fallen angel, to loving Anna’s mother and to his time in prison. He gives her valuable advice and information and she leaves him feeling loved. Anna receives a call from a nun letting her know that Sister Ruth passed away but left all of her belongings to Anna. Kaidan and Anna decide to keep their distance from one another and when they do see each other it causes confusion. Anna’s learning to “work” to keep the demons at bay but she has to deal with the guilt afterward, each time she persuades someone to make an unwise choice. The intensity of Kaidan’s and Anna’s relationship is intoxicating and the pull between them is undeniable. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Sweet Peril. Supernatural deception and integrity all in one!