Lane dresses and acts like a boy because women aren’t allowed to live or work on ships as they might be mistaken for pirates. A woman pirate killed the queen and since then, women are forbidden to be onboard. Lane’s father is worried about her safety and her secret being revealed so he wants her to live with the mother she hasn’t seen for many years but Lane is determined to stay on the ship. Aden barters a hiding spot on Lane’s ship. He’s running away and he’s the prince. Kemp is second in command under the captain, Lane’s father. He’s the gun master and horrible. He’s constantly causing rifts between crew members and he’s undermining the captain every chance he gets. Kemp accuses Aden of pouring water into the barrels of gunpowder. Aden isn’t guilty because he was with Lane the entire time but neither of them admits that, so Aden accepts the duel proposed by Kemp. Lane discovers a missive that Aden’s been carrying telling him to get help from a neighboring ruler and that’s where he’s trying to go. Mutiny, secrets, backstabbing and survival are themes of this story but the main themes are self discovery, following your dreams and love. An adventure worth reading, 4 stars!
The Girl in the Castle by Emily Raymond & James Patterson
Hannah is brought to the psychiatric hospital after being found screaming and half-dressed on the streets. She says she’s trying to save her family and friends by robbing the castle because the village people are starving. Then the timeline jumps back to the 1300’s, where Hannah is with those starving villagers, family and friends. The story continues to alternate between the present and the 1300’s while Hannah is in the psychiatric ward (present) and with her family in the village (1300’s). An intern, Jordan, finds Hannah fascinating and wants to help her heal after hearing her story and background. While Hannah is in the past, she’s captured along with her friends. Her friends are either hanged, stabbed or badly beaten but Hannah is spared by the Baron who is curious about her. While in the present, Hannah attends group meetings, therapy, meets new roommates, loses a fellow ward resident to suicide and builds a relationship with Jordan. While in the past, she is pampered in the castle, brings food to the villagers and has a relationship with the Baron. Jordan investigates as much as possible to discover Hannah’s past to see if trauma is at the root of her story. The mystery kept me hooked, 4 stars!
Mature content: PG-13 for vaguely detailed sex, mention of drugs, suicide and attempted suicide, self harm with razor blades
Violence: PG-13 for suicide, suggestion of rape, bleeding cuts, cut herself repeatedly with a spoon sharpened against a table leg, stealing and hanging
Language: R for 76 swears, 19 f-bombs
1300’s timeline- predominately white, present timeline-mixed ethnicity
Likes/dislikes: I liked the mystery surrounding the main character, Hannah. Was she experiencing time travel, hallucinations or trauma induced schizophrenia? I appreciate the author’s note at the end sharing experiences working at a psychiatric hospital and acknowledging that those experiences helped shape this book.
It Ends In Fire by Andrew Shvarts
Sixteen-year-old Alka tricks a group of thieves into stopping a wagon for her. They think the wagon holds treasure but it holds a Wizard that is the senator’s powerful daughter. Alka wants revenge on the Wizards for killing her parents ten years ago and Lady Alayne is the key. After dueling with Alayne, Alka retrieves Alayne’s invitation to Blackwater Academy of Magic so she can go in her place and infiltrate the Wizard power. The next chapter explains what happened to Alka’s parents. Wizards arrive at their home so seven-year-old Alka and her six-year-old sister Sera hide under the floorboards like their parents told them to. Their father, Petyr, admits he’s a rebel to save his wife but the Enforcers kill them both. But before Petyr dies, he tells his daughters to run and then he sets off an explosion to kill the Wizards. Alka’s childhood ended that day. Her world completely changed. Now, she travels to Blackwater Academy to take Alayne’s place and exact her revenge. Fylmonela Potts befriends Alka and the two form an alliance preparing for the intense competitive Blackwater Academy where one third of the students will drop out or die instead of graduating. At the opening ceremony, Alka sees the man who killed her parents, Magnus Aberdeen, headmaster of Blackwater Academy. After a failed attempt to get close to Aberdeen, Alka meets the exchange student Prince Talyn Ravensgale IV. The story continues to alternate between young Alka and the present Alka, when she’s at Blackwater. She pretends to mess up a Glyph that distracts Aberdeen and the entire class so she can steal the last four Glyph pages from the master codex of the wizard spells to keep and learn on her own. She wants to be the most powerful so she can take down the wizards. When she was being trained by rebels, she was told not to feel remorse for killing wizards or others who stand in the way of her mission. Despite that, Alka gains allies and friends and when their order competes in a school challenge, they try a daring stunt to beat the competition. This makes the ruling order angry but the rest of the school feels empowered. The second challenge doesn’t go down as planned and when a friend dies, Alka knows the end is coming. She’s got to make a plan that will take the biggest toll of all. 4 stars for the writing and the intensity. Similar to a Harry Potter outline.
Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco
Emilia finds herself in the Seven Circles of Hell with Wrath by her side. He’s guiding her to Pride and she’s reminded of the temptations surrounding her in Hell. Wrath keeps reminding her that what she’s seeing isn’t real but a test.
They eventually get to Wrath’s elaborate home and Emilia senses and eventually knows that he’s continuing to have secrets that either he won’t or can’t share. This is a story of intensities, secrets, curses, deception, bonds, passion, and twists. I could not put this book down and the ending is perfect for continuing the story into the third and final book! Wrath and Emilia have an intriguing relationship and they’re both stuck in a kind of limbo. Emilia has been kept in the dark and Wrath isn’t allowed to divulge information. I’m anticipating the third and final book. This series reminds me of Sarah J. Maas’ writing in the ACOTR series because they’re both awesome! 5 stars!
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
Twin sisters grow up hearing tales of the Wicked princes of Hell and heeding the warnings that go hand in hand with the stories. Eventually the warnings of danger wear off since they haven’t seen any real evidence of the Wicked until tragedy strikes when they’re eighteen. Emilia is desperate to find whoever is responsible for Vittoria’s death so she summons a demon but ends up with one of the Wicked, Prince Wrath. His disdain for humans is immense but Emilia wears him down and surprises him with her abilities and intellect. When she’s attacked by a large viper shaped demon, Wrath saves her. He also pulls her out of despair after she’s attacked by Lust. Their relationship fluctuates between understanding each other and despising each other. They’re both trying to stop evil so they decide to work together until tragedy strikes again. This supernatural mystery held my complete attention and I’m excited for the sequel, 5 stars!