The introduction is perfectly written with its foreboding and ominous tale that happens to be true. Soraya and Sorush are twins. Soraya is hidden away because her touch is fatal. Sorush is the heir next in line to rule the kingdom. On the day of Sorush and Laleh’s wedding announcement, Soraya meets Azad. He’s been awarded by Sorush for his bravery and for saving his life. Azad is immediately taken with Soraya even after he finds out about her fatal touch. The two of them sneak through secret passages to get into the dungeon so they can ask the prisoner div for help in breaking Soraya’s curse. A div is what gave her mother the curse years ago. The div tells her not to believe her mother’s story. As Soraya discovers the truth about her curse, her family becomes endangered and she has to do some clever thinking to save them. Soraya searches for allies and truths throughout the story as everything changes for her. Beautifully written and based on Persian mythology to give us this unique fantasy, 4 stars!
More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 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!
The prologue tells a tale of young princes, innocent discoveries and a mass poisoning ending in death. Eighteen years later, we meet the brother of the young princes, Ulises, who is now king. We also meet his friends and entourage and the connections to the prologue are interestingly explained in the third chapter. After that point, we follow Elias, one of the young king’s friends, and Mercedes, the king’s cousin, as they follow clues on a map that may or may not lead them to the two lost princes and their unknown fate, as well as the fate of Elias’s father who also disappeared along with the princes eighteen years earlier. Supernatural elements within this fantasy make the story even more interesting and suspenseful. I enjoyed reading every word of this book, with the layers of intrigue and strong characters. I loved unraveling the mystery alongside the characters and I’m going to immediately begin reading the sequel, Song of the Abyss. 5 full and happy stars!
Song of the Abyss review:
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a goodreads giveaway for the opportunity to read and review Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier!
The story begins eight years after Isle of Blood and Stone. Reyna is now a teenager and struggling to sneak off a ship that’s under attack. She saves herself and her maps because of her logic, swimming abilities and help from sea worms. Reyna ends up in Selene, in the kingdom of Lunes, where the king has just died. She’s the only person that escaped the attack. She accidentally meets Levi, one of the princes, as he’s grieving the loss of his father. He’s Captain of the Royal Guard and tries to detain Reyna so he can question her more but she escapes and finds a ship heading back to her home in Del Mar. Levi and his sister, Queen Vashti, visit Reyna’s kingdom to discuss ships being attacked since both kingdoms have people missing. Reyna helps Levi on the quest to find their loved ones and together they discover a horrible and treacherous deception. Song of the Abyss weaves a tale of differing kingdoms and cultures; one of them backwards and secluded and struggling to survive. A bit of historical fiction is added along with mythological creatures to create a fantasy that I loved; 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa! Suki has been sent to the Palace of the Sun to work as a maid. Suki has been helping in her father’s flute shop but he sent her to the Palace to have a secure living so she’ll be taken care of when he passes away. She becomes a maid of the Emperor’s concubine, Lady Satomi; a beautiful but cruel lady. The concubine’s maids seem to keep running away or disappearing and we quickly find out why; she’s sacrificing her maids to a demon as pay for a favor that she wants in return. Next, we meet Yumeko, the prankster fox-girl that lives with monks as they guard a secret, part of the Dragon prayer. The third chapter introduces a Shadow Clan warrior that guards and yields an important weapon that houses a demon. This warrior has been sent to destroy two monsters. Chapter by chapter, characters are introduced and the stakes rise. Everyone wants the Dragon Scroll and death doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. The Fox girl and warrior are working together to find information about the scroll. Little does the warrior know that Yumeko has the scroll the entire time. If he knew, he wouldn’t think twice about killing her. The two of them keep saving each other and are now in each other’s debt. Along their travels, the two of them meet interesting characters, a rogue and a demon warrior, among others. Shadow of the Fox is beautifully told in the style of Japanese mythology. Intriguing characters kept me reading to the end and the epilogue made me anxious for the next book in the series, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Annaliese Rising by Brenda Drake!
As the story opens, I immediately relate to Annaliese when she doesn’t want to dissect her frog in biology class. I had that same problem when I was in high school, but that’s where our similarities end. Suddenly, she’s bumped from behind by a classmate and falls into the frog and tray. Then the frog comes to life and hops across the classroom, seriously freaking everyone out! The story becomes more mysterious and interesting when Analiese witnesses an elderly man’s death and fulfills his dying wish by meeting his grandson Marek, passing on his leather bag as requested. Marek and Analiese travel to Europe while following clues that Marek’s grandfather left for him to find. Analiese discovers that she’s a Riser, a person that brings people back to life. Marek discovers a huge part of his grandfather’s life that he knew nothing about, while Analiese uncovers her heritage and family history. Analiese Rising is a mysterious fantasy full of riddles, codes, ciphers and clues! I enjoyed all of the fun and mystery and the mythology was an added bonus! Readers that have enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan should find this book right up their alley, 5 fun, adventurous stars!
We Own the Sky by Sara Crawford tells the story of Sylvia, who has always had an intense interest in music and she has always seen flickering people that she assumed are imaginary or hallucinations. She learns that the flickering people are actually Muses that help humans become more artistic. Her mother supposedly left and it’s just Sylvia and her father, both music lovers and musicians. Sylvia’s father has struggled with alcoholism while she’s struggled with depression. Her favorite teachers pique her interests with the subjects of music and mythology. This is where she learns about Muses and meets Vincent for the first time. Vincent becomes Sylvia’s Muse and more. Sylvia discovers that her mother was her father’s Muse too. Muses don’t age and that’s why her mother left. They also are usually invisible to the humans they bless with artistic talent but her mother wasn’t invisible to her father, only to other humans. This unique story concept is fun with suspense built in when an evil Muse works to kill all the Muses she can, 4 stars!
A perfect read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser! The sarcastic humor shines right off the beginning of the story. Caro and Markos feel more mature in this sequel to Song of the Current and their worries have taken a toll on them. I enjoyed this book more than the first one and I think it’s because the world building had already been set up and the characters show tremendous growth. I enjoyed the side characters also, with their diverse personalities. Danger, intrigue, twists and interesting characters made me love this book. Diric, the pirate, is endearingly charming with all of his good and bad attributes mixed well together. Fun, adventurous and suspenseful and a perfect read for anyone with an interest in pirates and fantasy. 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for the opportunity to read and review Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser! Caroline and her father are smugglers that come across a tragic sight as they pull into a harbor; boats are ablaze and have been destroyed. The port was attacked by a ship passing through and no one understands the purpose of the attack. Papa is arrested for smuggling and Caroline makes a deal with the commander to deliver cargo, contents unknown, to Valonikos in exchange for Papa’s freedom. The cargo box is opened and Caroline finds a young man, Tarquin, inside. He’s supposed to be delivering a message about the assassination of the Emparch, a ruler. Caroline suspects that he’s not telling the complete truth. Eventually, Tarquin explains to Caroline who he really is. Once she hears his truth and they realize what’s at stake, their plans completely change. They now plan on going to a completely different place to save his sister. The danger increases and so does the death toll. The first part of the book shows the characters, their lives and builds the world of The Song of the Current. The second part brings action, intrigue and danger and I became concerned with the characters’ well being. The humor grows in the end also. The story ends with excitement for the future and anticipation for the sequel, Whisper of the Tide. 4 stars for this fantasy built with an author-created mythology!
Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for the opportunity to read Berserker by Emmy Laybourne! Hanne has inherited Norwegian Berserker powers and supposedly this is what drove her mother away. Hanne lives with her drinking father, two brothers and a younger sister. Her eldest brother Steig wants to move to America, get a teaching job and bring his siblings to America when he has enough money. Hanne’s story alternates with Owen Bennett’s, who’s treated badly by his family because he’s the product of Mr. Bennett’s past affair. Hanne is overtaken by the Berserker powers when she senses that her family is in danger and she kills the three men that mean to cause harm to her family and her father ends up dying also. The four siblings run away from their home. Meanwhile, two men, Rolf and Ketil, are sent by a Baron, their employer, to hunt down any Nytte, anyone with Norwegian descent that has inherited Viking strengths. They all travel to America. Owen meets the siblings when he saves Sissel from a moving train so she can be with her family. Owen becomes the family’s guide. Along the way to their uncle’s home in Montana, the group braves many setbacks and they also meet Ketil and Rolf. The story comes full circle with much action and adventure involved and the loyalty of friends and family is what I enjoyed the most in this book. 4 stars for a suspense filled mythological adventure!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.