Agnes resides within a cult at Red Creek but she doesn’t realize that she’s part of a cult. She’s the eldest of several siblings and is responsible for taking care of their family because their mother is severely depressed. Agnes sneaks to the Outside once a month to retrieve insulin for her younger brother Ezekiel, even though she knows it’s against the rules. Her sister Beth, the next eldest sibling, is a rebel and doesn’t like the rules. When Beth is caught kissing a boy, she’s disgraced by their father and the community. Agnes has been betrothed as a sixth wife to a middle-aged man and before she gets married, she has to teach Beth everything so she can then become the family caretaker. The middle-aged man decides to marry Beth instead of Agnes to straighten Beth out. In the meantime, a ferocious virus is spreading throughout the world and eventually arrives at Red Creek. The Prophet releases an infected dog during a church meeting and, after a few people are bitten, he tells them about his revelation; the Rapture has arrived and everyone must move into the underground bunker. Agnes escapes with Ezekiel and is heartbroken that she’s left the rest of her siblings behind. She knows that the bunker would be a death sentence for Ezekiel because there’s no insulin for him. This is a riveting story about cults, self-worth, self-importance, bravery, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The author’s note explains the cult background information being from a nonfiction book of a survivor who escaped a true cult. A wonderfully written and all-encompassing story about love, sacrifice, and different faiths, 5 stars!
As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!
A solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest!
The story picks up right where The Black Witch left off. The Resistance works together trying to figure out how to keep their ‘unsavory’ friends safe. The prose flows smoothly and focuses on characters’ situations. An all-encompassing fantasy with a mystery that is foreshadowed throughout the series but left hidden from its readers, keeps the suspense going. Elloren and her friends are fighting for freedoms that are being taken away piece by piece. Fierce loyalty and friendship bond many different types of people and bring them together to fight against genocide and towards freedom. The Iron Flower adds much to this fantasy series and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment already; a solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!
Full of magic!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Black Witch by Laurie Forest!
Elloren and her brothers, Rafe and Trystan, have lived with their Uncle Edwin since a Keltic attack killed their parents years ago. He treats them well. Uncle Edwin is also very protective of Elloren and wants her to have every advantage in life that her brothers have, but he’s also hiding information about Elloren’s abilities. A missing girl calls for Elloren through a Watcher, a perceptive white bird, and gives her the mythical White Wand. Sage, the missing young woman, fears for her baby’s safety and she claims that the Council is coming for him because they believe he’s evil, then she disappears into the forest once again. Elloren visits Aunt Vyvian, keeping the White Wand a secret. Aunt Vyvian wants to use Elloren for her own political goals while she attends University and she wants Elloren to be wandfasted (engaged) immediately to the young man of Aunt Vyvian’s choosing. Elloren is in danger everywhere she goes and suffers several attacks her first day at University. It seems that she’s assumed by everyone to be prejudice just like her famous grandmother, the Black Witch, who Elloren resembles completely. Elloren’s eyes are opened to the prejudices and violence in her world and Aunt Vyvian is at the top of the worst of it. The dynamics of the characters build the story line into intrigue and complexity. Genocide is threatening on the horizon and Elloren forms loyal relationships with many people who she’s been taught not to trust. I’ve grown to care about these characters and I’m anxious to read the sequel, The Iron Flower. 5 stars for this fantasy full of magic!
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!
Wonderful and complex characters!
Thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Fire and Bookish First for the opportunities to read and review Furyborn by Claire Legrand!
The prologue opens the book with Queen Rielle as she’s delivering her baby girl. Then the story goes back two years in Rielle’s point of view, before she’s queen. The next chapter takes place over one thousand years later and introduces Eliana. The story continues on, alternating between Rielle and Eliana, chapter to chapter. Rielle has many powers and potential for more and the kingdom wonders if she’s part of a prophecy. Eliana is a hired hand for the Empire, capturing rebels as requested. Rielle does not have a handle on her powers, even though she’s been training for over a decade. She’s afraid of the destruction she might cause and ashamed of the destruction she’s already caused. Eliana lives with her mother and younger brother and she’s noticed that females are disappearing, being stolen. While she’s given a new job, she discovers that her mother is gone. She leaves in search of her mother with her brother in tow. Destruction seems to follow Eliana and her wall of anger and defiance seem to be cracking and regrets start seeping in. Foreshadowing builds the suspense to intense levels. The story comes together seamlessly and is exposed throughout the length of the book. Wonderful and complex characters make Furyborn an amazing and exciting fantasy read worthy of 5 stars! I’m already anticipating the second book in the Empirium trilogy!
My favorite book in the True Born series!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review True Storm by L.E. Sterling!
The background and past events of the story are summed up concisely and brought me back up to speed as the book opened with Lucy’s point of view. The trauma continues and Lucy discovers secrets about Margot that shock her to the core. The danger and intrigue intensify as the whirlwind of events knock down societal standings and tear apart the lives of Lucy and Margot. This book ends a series full of twists and events that shouldn’t be spoiled, my favorite of the True Born series-5 stars!
About True Storm:
Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, may be safely back with her—but all is not well in Plague-ravaged Dominion City. The Watchers have come out of hiding, spreading chaos and death throughout the city, and suddenly Lucy finds herself under pressure to choose her future: does it lie with her handsome new friend, Alastair; her guardian, the enigmatic True Born leader Nolan Storm; or the man who makes her heart trip, her savage True Born bodyguard Jared Price?
But while Lucy ponders her path, fate has other plans. Betrayal is a cruel lesson, and the Fox sisters can hardly believe who is behind the plot against them. To survive this deadly game of politics, Lucy is forced to agree to a marriage of convenience. But is the DNA of her will stronger than the forces opposing her? And can she turn the tide against the oncoming storm?
As they say in Dominion, rogue genes can never have a happy ending…
About True Born:
2017 Athena Award for Excellence in Young Adult & New Adult Fiction Winner
Your fate is in your blood…
Welcome to Dominion City.
After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.
The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…
And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.
When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic leader, Nolan Storm, and the beautiful but deadly Jared, who tempts her as much as he infuriates her. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?
As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.
About True North:
Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.
While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.
As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.
About L.E. Sterling:
L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance, to which she remained faithful through an M.A. in creative writing and a PhD in English literature––where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of cult hit YA novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick) and the Urban Fantasy Pluto’s Gate. True Born, first in the True Born trilogy, won the Athena Award® from the RWA. Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van––inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada. www.le-sterling.com.
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Excerpt from True Storm:
Another laugh, this one not at all pleasant. “God, Lu, do you think I’m actually in control here? You,” he says, his lips coming so close to mine I can almost feel them on my flesh. He brushes them lightly, and the already swollen flesh lights up again. “You,” he says again, his voice dropping into a purr as with one hand, he strokes my hair, “you’re like a drug. I can’t get enough of you, can’t break away no matter how hard I try.”
I push at his chest and force him to let me down. “You make it sound terrible,” I grumble.
His voice and eyes are ragged, wild, as he tells me with conviction, “It is terrible.”
“Jared,” I warn.
Blond curls fall over his handsome face as he takes my cheeks lightly in his hands. I reach up and curl my own fingers over his, remembering what those hands can do. How could such brilliant, clever hands be capable of such violence? Like his hands, this man has the ability to make me feel as though I’m flying through the air one minute, bruised and sinking the next.
I try to look away, sick of the hurt, but he won’t let me. Staring intently into my eyes, he whispers my name like a prayer. “Don’t you get it? It’s ripping my guts out because I have never felt this way before. I need to be near you like I need oxygen. And I know full well I can’t have you.”
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!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi! Females, young and old, train together to learn to be strong, independent and to gain self-defense skills. This training is hidden from the rest of the kingdom because they would be in trouble and danger if anyone else found out they are more than timid servants. These women lost loved ones in a horrific act of violence against their community and have been training ever since. Zelie is a part of this group and when she was five she watched her mother being dragged away and then hung. Amari is an unhappy princess who escapes and inadvertently ends up with Zelie and her family. They run from Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, as he struggles with his internal conflict of whether or not magic is good or evil. During this time, Zelie’s magic grows and she works at controlling her powers. As Zelie, her brother Tzain and Amari learn to trust each other and work together, they encounter horrific dangers as they continue their quest for the artifacts-the scroll, sunstone and the bone dagger. With these artifacts, magic can be restored. Some romance and humor lighten the dark world that Zelie lives in and both of these help her conquer the evil and pain that drags her under. The impressive storyline, immaculate world building and strong, dynamic characters make Children of Blood and Bone an intense fantasy read worth 5 stars!
The Darkest of Dreams by Emigh Cannaday opens with the realization that Finn has been murdered by Talvi, his own brother. After Finn’s death, the Marinossian family is distraught and in turmoil because of the loss of Finn and Talvi’s murderous act. Talvi ends up in Bleakmoor Island Prison until his trial, while Annika is sent away from the Elven world for several reasons: her safety, secrecy and to help the Marinossian family heal. An enormous turn of events changes everything and the story unfolds while continuing to build character development and the world of the Marinossians. The beloved personalities return in this sequel and the character spectrum grows larger. Another Annika Brisby story full of suspense, danger, romance and magic. 5 stars!￼