For 500 years, King Eidolon has harmed the Royal twins to prevent them from taking his ruling power over the Kingdom of Aryd. Meren, 19, is trying to save her twin sister Tabra who is under some horrific spell of shadow poison. With the help of several others, Meren is collecting amulets to stop the king once and for all. The group faces danger and deception and many challenges. The shadows threaten all.
Likes/dislikes: The concept of the story is interesting but new problems were randomly added which felt like unnecessary filler material. I became bored with the repetitiveness and filler content. I was not invested enough in the characters to make it an enjoyable read. Points of view transitions were confusing and disrupted the flow of the story. The first book of this series is much better.
Language: R for 124 swears and 5 f-bombs.
Mature Content: PG-13 for implied sex, woman with sheer top showing the dusky tips of her breasts. Vaguely detailed sex.
Violence: PG for non bloody death. Bloody injury.
Ethnicity: Ethnicity is predominantly white but there’s mention of a bluish black skinned, white haired character and another person with tawny skin.
In Tigang, Narra wants her mother to stay home but she insists on going to the capital to confess that she kept her marked daughter alive even when the law stated she must die. Narra is the marked daughter because of the birthmarks on her neck, which people believe makes her cursed. Her mother is imprisoned and Narra enters the competition that takes place every ten years to find a new ruler. She wants to win the competition so she can rescue her mother. Narra enters the trials with no magic, no weapons and no help. It takes all of her willpower and wits to get through it all.
Likes/dislikes: The vocabulary in the world building and introduction of characters gets confusing but it makes more sense as the story goes on. The story felt disjointed because of the competition, the past lives and the magic not necessarily blending well together. I did like Narra, the main character, and her companions, Virian and Dayen, and how they worked together and helped each other.
Mature content: PG for brief kissing Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG for cuts on palms of hands as a gift of blood to begin a ceremony and a nondescript beheading. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with the following: olive skin, brown skin, deep russet skin, dark Tigangi skin, and dark brown skin.
Twin princesses are born. A rival ruler always kills the twin, so the second princess is hidden away. When the queen dies, the twins’ grandmother, Tabra becomes queen and her sister Meren is kidnapped by a mysterious man who might be the Shadowraith. He actually thinks Meren is Tabra, so she plays the part. He’s terrifying and has secrets that Meren is scared of but curious about. The two get to know each other better as they help one another through danger and eventually get to the Shadowraith’s home. He explains who he is and introduces himself as Reven. He’s been giving a home to the Vanished and others that are shunned from their communities, giving them jobs, safety and a place to belong. When Reven’s sanctuary is attacked, Meren creates a portal for the people to escape. All that’s left are Reven and Meren. They both end up making extreme sacrifices for the people they love. The ending leads to a sequel. 4 stars for the mystery wrapped up in this fantasy!
Ash is non-savant which means that she doesn’t have an alter that gives her powers like savants have. She’s friends with the heir Marcus who will be heading to Aku for training. Once his alter finally appears, it surprises everyone with its strength. On the group’s journey to Aku, they sail on a ship until the captain turns on them. The only way they survive is because of Kailyn, a shipmate who steps in and protects them from harm. He also helps them get to Aku despite several dangerous situations they find themselves in. Ash and Kailyn become friends and maybe a bit more and Marcus realizes he’s jealous. Their voyage comes full circle when they arrive back home to warn about an attack but things have changed. This action packed story alludes to many secrets being hidden by several characters and this first book of the series only gives readers a sneak peek into the mysteries surrounding them. 4 stars!
Eve and Wren are ecstatic that they’re free and the sun isn’t scorching like they’ve been told all of their lives. They walk for an hour in happy silence before Wren hears something in the trees. An animal attacks and they fight for their lives. Soon they realize they have no sustenance. They decide to return to the compound and figure out a way to survive on the surface and to return later. Wren and Eve try to settle back into life in Eleven and move forward with jobs while everything around them seems tumultuous, including their relationship. I had thought this was a duology but realized while reading that it wasn’t going to end with this book. Action and danger follow Wren and Eve until they’re in peril. Action packed dystopian, 4 stars!
Eve is a fighter looking forward to when she can reach the upper level and Earth to see if her younger brother Jack somehow survived being banished nine years ago for being the unlawful second child of the family. He was sent out to the unprotected air and land on his own. Eve meets Wren in a scheduled fight that entertains the crowds. They despise each other at first but soon become allies. While Eve’s friends continue to participate in job tours to help decide their future, she hunts for a way to escape Compound Eleven. Wren is from the upper level so he has access to more and also has a better lifestyle than Eve and her friends in the lower level. He teaches her to shoot a gun and she introduces her to the lowest level of the compound where she helps ration food to the people. They both grow and learn about what they truly want in their futures. Eve is stubborn but loyal and Wren is smart, brave and has integrity. Interesting world building and strong characters add life to this dystopian story, 4 stars!
Cupcake by Cookie O’ Gorman is a deliciously cute and innocently romantic read for young adults! Ariel is a full bodied young woman and she’s proud of who she is even when others are unkind. Her best friend, Toni, nominates her for the Homecoming royalty without Ariel knowing. Ariel may like herself but she’s been bullied about her size and that makes her wary of gaining attention or being in any spotlight. Being part of the homecoming royalty stresses her out. Ariel has many talents and friends. She’s kind and caring and loves to bake amazing treats for sharing and posting on her vlog. Rhys is her designated homecoming prince for all of the activities and he’s also the star quarterback. She’s a bit intimidated by him and the other royalty. As she gets to know the other royalty better and they get to know her, friendships begin. Cupcake is an adorable story of growth, confidence and loving yourself!
Tansy is trying to adjust to being the Vampire Queen. She lives with her granny, who she trusts more than anyone else in the world. Tansy discovers more about her estranged mother and the father she’s never known. Her boyfriend Vaughn is dealing with life changing issues on his own. The book starts out recapping the events from the first book and moves onto more intensity. I enjoyed the mix of characters and events which made an enjoyable read, 4 stars!
Roots of Ruin by Amber Mitchell Book three in the Garden of Thorns series. Rose/Arianna works alongside Rayce to unite their two kingdoms and to restore her rightful place as ruler of her kingdom. There’s a traitor in their group who keeps giving valuable information to the enemy and man who took Arianna’s father’s life and crown, King Ganem. As king, he has broken apart families and caused extreme poverty and violence. With Rayce’s help, they plan to bring the kingdoms together and create peace. The stress picks up at the last third of the book when the traitor is discovered and the rebels find themselves in a twisted mess. A solid ending in this YA dystopian series, 4 stars!
I begin reading with an open mind and a few pages in there’s a comment about people knowing the narrator is gay because of piercings and colorful tattoos. I don’t believe that everyone that fits in that category is gay; that’s just stereotypical annoyance. The book has more new adult than young adult content since the characters are college age, and content contains sexual innuendos and swearing. I actually grew to enjoy the variety of characters and appreciate the topics that the author approached tastefully. Mental and physical health, drugs, overdoses and the universal question of what to do with your life are brought up and dealt with well. I do worry about STDs and the nonchalant sex life of Ivy. I wish something about protection during sexual activity was mentioned, especially since the main character’s mother is a nurse. I enjoyed the story and couldn’t put it down after a while. Interesting with food for thought, 4 stars!