The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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Beyond my expectations!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi!
Whoa, that prologue! I expect intrigue, deception, action and suspense after reading it and chapter one alludes to all of the above! The complexity of forging and the variety of characters, all introduced smoothly and interestingly, attests to Roshani Chokshi’s writing talent. Severin leads L’Eden, his home full of wayward, talented people. Such as Laila, who’s skilled in baking delicacies, Zofia, her forging talents cause a bit of chaos, and Tristan, who forges diverse landscapes with plants. Enrique’s personality is fun and interesting. Laila is paradoxical with a unique birth story and the group works well together as they try to restore Severin’s birthright. Severin, along with the help of Enrique, manages to steal the compass from Hypnos; the compass that contains a map. The group develops another elaborate plan and as they begin to carry it out, Laila discovers Hypnos lounging on her chaise lounge when she enters her dressing room. She immediately assumes he’s there to stop their plan but Hypnos surprises her when he states that they need to save Tristan and Severin from death within the hour. By the time the story winds down, tragedy has struck and the group is heartbroken and struggling to move forward. This complex story is the beginning of a new trilogy that shows the beauty and horror of the 19th century, as the author’s notes acknowledge. I’m astounded by the fact of a human zoo at the World’s Fair in Paris and can’t really wrap my head around that disturbing reality. My respect for Roshani Chokshi has grown because of her talented writing, her research and her honesty in sharing the process of her story building. The world of The Gilded Wolves is based a large amount on reality, with a touch of fantasy. The dynamics between the characters and the puzzles throughout their search builds suspense and an interesting story worth 5 stars!

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Truly original fantasy!
I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore as a buddy-read event for Dragons & Tea Book Club. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read and review this book by providing the ARC!
This is a unique story that pulls from deep-seated cultural roots and a little deception. Sam and Miel share trust, loyalty and a special relationship. They also share their community with a group of sisters that could be considered mean girls, with a power they’ve grown so used to, that they do not want to lose it and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Wow! Aracely’s background revelation was something I was not expecting! Sam struggles with the decision of who (what gender) he wants to be in the near future. He’s struggling to the point of desperation. Miel blames herself for the loss of her mother and brother. She thinks the river might give them back to her. The fantastical elements are kind of difficult to understand in this story but I do enjoy the flow of the author’s writing. As usually is the case, the author’s notes are enlightening! They are also helpful in understanding Miel’s fears and Sam’s struggles. I appreciate that Anna-Marie McLemore shares such personal experiences and revelations with her readers! 4 stars for this unique fantasy!

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

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Strong, dynamic characters make a wonderful fantasy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian!
Theo is on Smoke, Dragonbane’s ship, with her Shadows and Soren. They are all working towards gathering allies to get her palace and reign back. Dynamic, strong characters plus the world building make Lady Smoke interesting to read and the uncertainty of Theo’s future drew me into the story even more. The characters’ backgrounds are intense and built fascinating characters that keep growing and stay steadfast by Theo’s side. Amazing strength and loyalty create unparalleled love for the kingdom they are all trying to get back. As the story carries on, more atrocities are brought to light and make the group even more determined! I don’t want to spoil anything but I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and anxiously awaiting the third book! 5 stars for great world building and strong, dynamic characters!

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

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Philosophical dystopian by the author of the Matched series!
I received The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie as a Bookish First Winner!
Poe hides out on a ship with Call, the young man that she loves. They’ve made plans to run away together and they feel like the world is at their fingertips until the ship is attacked by raiders. In that moment, everything is taken away from Poe. The story jumps to two years later when Poe becomes Captain of the ship or dredge that she’s spent the past two years designing protective armor for. She’s all alone in the world and trusts no one. The dredge is built to mine the river and gather gold. Poe designed the armor to protect the ship and shipmates from raiders, the same group of people that attacked the ship she was on two years before. The character range is limited to the people that Poe is in the most contact with. The story is philosophical in its own way as Poe ponders her experiences and the people she truly cares for. Poe grows and matures as the story unfolds, while other things remain mysterious. 4 stars for this dystopian adventure.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Dynamic Fantasy!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters!

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

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Here’s my review for A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third but not final book in An Ember in the Ashes series. I love how the book opens with the Nightbringer’s point of view! The author gives us insight into the kingdom’s history and at the present time, the scholars are being extinguished but we see that in the past the scholars have done the same thing to the Jinn, the Nightbringer’s people. Very interesting and so much like the harsh reality we live in. Elias’ fate and Laia’s future hold mystery. Helene, as the Blood Shrike, stands steadfastly by her sister Livia’s side. Livia has a fortunate surprise that could change the Empire for the better. Learning more about Keris and her past was fascinating as was learning more about Laia’s mother’s story. Elias gives up everything to help others because of his kindness and tremendous strength. Reaper at the Gates hurts my heart but builds distant hope for the amazing characters, 5 stars!

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

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Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta jumps into an intense storyline. Right from the beginning, I was hooked! Faris and Thaelan live completely different lives in opposite areas of the kingdom. Faris and her sister Cadence live in poverty while Thaelan is a member of nobility. Thaelan and Faris are in love and want to run away so they can be together. Faris and Cadence are pretty much on their own because of their dysfunctional father and deceased mother; a mother that stabbed Faris in the chest, trying to kill her years ago. Cadence and Thaelan are captured while they are trying to escape, the two of them receive horrible consequences. Faris is offered a job to earn money to buy Cadence’s freedom. The job offer comes from the kingdom’s executioner and his betrothed, Princess Bryn. Things become a bit confusing when Bryn and Faris are captured and the “owners” change hands a couple of times. Once that’s settled, the situation begins to clear up again. Bryn and Faris end up riding with North, a mysterious young man with secrets of his own. The relationships sparkle and the world frightens in this dark, dreary fantasy made up of magic that cripples and sometimes completely transforms. A range of emotions surrounds the storyline and tragedy, intensity and brutality sum up the characters’ lives. Deeply dynamic, Shimmer and Burn is waiting to pull you into its world! 5 stars!

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir is an amazing sequel! On the run, Elias and Laia work together to evade capture. Helene undergoes intense, brutal interrogation but her father makes a bargain with Marcus, the Emperor, to free her. Elias ends up poisoned, so he and Laia travel to Raider’s Roost for medicine. Elias is in and out of consciousness while Laia fights to keep him alive as they travel for help. Helene has been summoned and given the order to hunt down Elias and then execute him publicly. Helene takes her chosen and trusted Masks and Harper, the commandant’s spy, as the Black Guard to search for Elias. As the story progresses, the suspense builds and I don’t want to give anything away because the suspense makes this great story even better. Each character reveals a back story and, with so many twists and surprises, the book is hard to put down. Complex characters and dynamic storytelling mixed with the author’s descriptive writing makes an intense, interesting sequel! 5 stars!

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson tells the story of Ten who has been an impressive thief since she was ten years old. She’s now a soldier for the queen and goes by the name Kazi. She encounters Jase, who has recently been made ruler due to his father’s unexpected death. Kazi and Jase become prisoners together when they are captured by labor hunters. The two of them are very similar in personalities and demeanor and at first, they drive each other crazy. They’re both clever, strong and loyal with banter that is fun and intelligent. With Kazi’s thieving background, she helps orchestrate their escape. Their relationship gets more complicated and more interesting from there. The story also becomes more complex, bringing in the backgrounds of Kazi and Jase and adding side characters and different kingdoms’ ideals and history. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Kazi and Jase and being on the sidelines of their tumultuous relationship. With interesting side characters and wonderful world building, I sped through the book and the ending left me wondering and anxiously awaiting the sequel! 5 solid stars!

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada has such a beautiful cover that drew me right in! Cover Love! The story jumps immediately into the action. Mortal Coil is a dystopian science fiction that I couldn’t put down once I began reading. Cat struggles to survive the outbreak that has almost completely destroyed the human population. She creates medical apps for the organization, Skies, which is the only helpful group left. Cataraxus took her father and her boyfriend by force two years earlier and Cat has lived in a cabin in the woods since. Agnes, a neighbor, saved her life after her father was kidnapped and the two women rely on each other for survival. A Cataraxus soldier begins to hunt her and eventually captures Cat and she starts to unravel the mystery surrounding her father and the Hydra vaccine. Her father doesn’t seem to be the kind person that she’s always believed him to be. Cole, the soldier, and Cat begin working together to save the vaccine and hopefully replicate it for human use. The two of them run into danger at every turn and her father’s legacy continues to confuse her. When Cat discovers her father’s reasons for the things he has done, she resigns herself to her fate. With one surprise after another, the suspense doesn’t end. This Mortal Coil is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read, a solid 5 stars!