Flamecaster – Shattered Realms #1 – Cinda Williams Chima

I learned of this series on Facebook from one of two authors who care about what their readers are reading and care to promote other authors by asking what everyone is reading and loving this week. It’s one of the places I get ideas of what to read next. It was either posted by one of Larissa Ione’s or Nalini Singh’s followers.

I’m glad I picked this book. I have been dabbling in the Fantasy genre lately and have been really enjoying it. I think this book is Young Adult also…at least, I assume it is because of the ages of most of the leading characters…but I’m always amazed at what can be included in the Young Adult genre. It seems to allow all the blood and gore possible, references to rape and molestation and even have limited sex scenes. I think the only thing that can’t be included is erotic scenes.

This book is written in the points of view of four different characters but two are the main protagonists, Adrien and Jenna.

Adrian sul’Han, also known as Ash, is the son of the Grey Wolf line. His mother is the queen of Fells and he is a powerful healer. His older sister was the heir to the throne until she was ambushed at the border by their enemy, the King of Arden’s soldiers. Even though he is the next oldest, his youngest sister will be groomed for the throne now because only females can hold the throne.

When his father was assassinated in front of him, Ash ran off to healing school under a different name since he was thought to have been killed too. In the summers, he posed as a ferrier and traveled around assassinating key figures in Arden’s army.

After an attack on his life by crazy priests of the major religion of Arden who think mages and healers are evil, Ash decides to travel to Ardenscourt and somehow kill the king himself.

Jenna was working in the mines just outside the city of Delphi when King Gerard of Arden came to the mines on some kind of promotional tour. When one of the minors threw horse dung at the king, he reached down and snapped the neck of little Maggi, an eight-year-old orphan girl who was forced to work the mines by the king’s soldiers. Then he killed her best friend Riley.

Since that day, Jenna has been working with a secret group called the patriots to sabotage the Arden army.

Jenna is unique. She has a magemark on the back of her neck yet she isn’t a mage and mages don’t have magemarks. She has never met anyone else with the mark.

Ash and Jenna’s lives become intertwined later in the book but it would spoil some things so I won’t go into it.

This book was a winner. I loved it and have already started the second book. I looked up the author and discovered she has two other series related to this series so this might be a spinoff but I’m not sure if the books share characters or not. I might read them later.

A Court of Wing and Ruin – A Court of Thorns and Roses #3 – Sarah J. Maas

I always forget how much I enjoy this series until I start reading it again. It’s not that it’s forgettable, it’s just that it isn’t my usual genre so it gets lost in the shuffle. If that makes any sense.

I wasn’t digging the lead character, Feyre, in the beginning of this book. She was out for revenge on Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, because she thinks he was responsible for her sisters being captured and put into the Cauldron by the King of Hybern. And he was responsible to a point but only because he loved her and thought she loved him back. He believed she’d been kidnapped by Rhysand, the High Lord of Night Court who everyone thinks is cruel and evil thanks to the image that Rhysand himself has put out to the world to protect his people. Tamlin had no clue Feyre had fallen in love with Rhys nor did he know that Rhys was the exact opposite of what he portrays. Feyre had only sent him a short message telling him she was okay and not to look for her but anyone who loves someone would not give up in them just based on a short note that she could have been forced to write.

Tamlin did make some mistakes but her revenge was petty and stupid in my eyes.

My opinion of her improved over the rest of the book but I have never really connected to Feyre. She is not the reason I like this series. It is the story line and the other characters like Rhysand, Cassian, Mor, Lucien and especially Azriel. I even like Tamlin, probably more than Feyre.

In this book, all the courts are gearing up for war with the King of Hybern who apparently has no real name or if he does, it was never mentioned in the book. His power, along with the Cauldron is unparalleled so it will take a miracle to beat him. Some of the courts may side with Hybern so Feyre is trying to convince them otherwise.

This book delves in deeper to some of the character’s personalities and backgrounds. There are  some developing romances too.

This is definitely a series that I recommend for fantasy and paranormal romance readers.

Crooked Kingdom – Six of Crows #2 – Leigh Bardugo

This book was packed full of action just like the first book but this book let us get to know the characters a little better. It tells how each of Kaz’s crew members ended up joining his gang which I’m not really going to get into here.

Hopefully, no one will try to read the second book without reading the first book because the following will spoil the ending of the first book.

At the end of the last book, Kaz and crew had just pulled off the impossible job but were double-crossed by Jan Van Eck, a member of the Merchant Council who run Ketterdam. He had promised them thirty million kruge (dollars) if they handed over the scientist who was responsible for inventing jurda parem, a drug that gives a certain race of people, Grisha, who wield magic super powers but has devastating side effects for the Grisha who ingest it. One dose will addict the Grisha and it is almost impossible to kick the habit. Two doses and the Grisha will never beat the addiction and they’ll do anything to get another dose so their masters can ask them to do anything and they will do it. So far, jurda parem is not something that is widely known and there is only a small amount available since the scientist has kept his formula a secret.

Luckily, Kaz had the foresight to know that Van Eck might try to betray the deal so he hid the real scientist when he met him to get the money. Van Eck kidnapped one of Kaz’s crew members, one that Kaz has a soft spot for, and told Kaz that he had a week to hand over the scientist or he would start torturing Inej.

Van Eck is rich and powerful. He had originally told them that the entire Merchant Council wanted the scientist to keep him safe and out of the hands of anyone with nefarious inclinations but he lied. The Merchant Council had no idea about jurda parem or the deal he made with Kaz…and Jan Van Eck was just the kind of evil person who should never have the formula for jurda parem. Kaz can’t go to the Merchant Council without proof or without Van Eck killing Inej.

I love how Kaz schemes and how he does things that seem unimportant at the time but then we find out later that is was something ingenious. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked way against him this time so I was not sure if things would end up good or bad.

I think this was the conclusion to the story. The author has written a trilogy called The Grisha Trilogy that sounds interesting. I might have to read it.

Six of Crows – Six of Crows #1 – Leigh Bardugo

I was hooked from the first paragraph. It took a little while to get to understand the terms and expressions of the world this was set in but once I caught on, I flew through this book.

All of the main characters are teenagers around the age of seventeen but none of them had the mind sets of regular teenagers, probably because they all had grown up in a harsh world and had to fight just to survive.

It starts out with the POV of a kid named Joost who has recently become a city guard. He thought it would be exciting but he has mainly just been guarding one wealthy merchant’s estate because there was a recent assassination of the Trade Ambassador so the Merchant Council, the people who run the city, thought the wealthy merchants needed extra protection. The one good thing about it is that he gets to see the girl he likes on his rounds. She is an indentured servant and a Grisha. Grishas are magic wielders and it seems that all Grisha are indentured servants unless they somehow hide who and what they are from others. In this world, slavery is supposedly illegal but indentured servants are not but everyone knows that the Grisha never volunteered to be indentured servants.

Joost is called to the boat house to help guard an experiment that the merchant is testing. The girl Joost likes is sitting in a room with a young boy from the streets. She’s a healer so a man who was with the merchant cut the boy, she healed it. Then they gave her a drug called Jurda Parem. The Grisha instantly changed from being a sweet and scared girl to looking cold and evil. The merchant told the man to cut off the boy’s thumb but the Grisha commanded the merchant to come into the room. She was controlling his mind, something that no Grisha should ever be able to do. When the guards tried to save the merchant, she commanded everyone to wait. The entire room stopped in their tracks. Joost’s mind went from free will to blissful and only wanting to do what the Grisha ordered.

Kaz is the leader of a gang called the Dregs in a city of Ketterdam in a country called Kerch. His neighborhood is called the Barrel which sounds like a dangerous place to live. He’s clever and is always five steps ahead of any rivals. When he is caught off his guard by what seems to be a ghost who can walk through walls, he is more than surprised. No one gets the upper hand on Kaz. He wakes up chained to a chair in an opulent office. He recognized his captor as Councilman Van Eck.

Van Eck offers Kaz a deal he can’t refuse. He offers him thirty million kruges, their monetary unit, for a seemingly impossible mission. Van Eck tells him about the new drug called Jurda Parem that a scientist named Bo Yul-Bayur has invented that can turn Grisha into mighty magic yielders who can do unimaginable feats like walk through walls and control minds. Some can even fly. He tells him that the Merchant Council is worried about this drug getting into the wrong hands because it could change the whole world. Whoever controls the Grishas controls can control the world. Jurda Parem is highly addictive to the Grisha. The first dose addicts them and they’ll do anything to get another dose but it also kills the Grisha after a short period of using the drug. Van Eck showed him the scene where the other merchant had conducted his experiment. It had been six days since the event and there were guards standing with blank stares, some had dropped to the floor and died. Joost was one of them. The merchant had died a gruesome death and the Grisha had escaped out to sea but because she needed the drug, she had tried to come back to shore but had drowned.

Bo Yul-Bayur is currently in Fjerda, a far-off land, at the Ice Court which is said to be impenetrable. Kaz selects five people to go with him on the mission. He has to break one of them out of a prison and then he discovers that Van Eck had hired another team for the same mission, a rival gang. He’s putting his life on the line for this job which could change his life but he knows the odds are against him.

It has been a long time since I have been wowed by a new author and series so I was impressed with this book. It kept me on my toes wondering what Kaz was going to do next and getting to know his crew members was fascinating too.

I immediately bought the next book in the series. I’m not sure how many books will be in the series so I am not sure if the second book will be the conclusion or if it will be a trilogy. I vote for a really long series!

Blood and Black Suits – Briar’s Daughter #1 – D. M. Nash

Before I begin the actual review, I have to point out how similar the book cover design of this book is to the series that I just finished reading A Shade of Vampire.

The author asked me if I would read his/her book and review it so I did.

I have to admit that I enjoyed it. I used to steer away from the YA paranormal romance genre because I didn’t think I could relate to teenagers or take any teenage relationship seriously but I have started to read more and more of them if the teenage characters are exceptionally mature and I don’t have to put up with high school drama. I can usually tell pretty early on in the book if it is too young for my tastes or not.

This book was about a sixteen-year old girl named Catherine whose father is a hunter of supernatural creatures so her life is a bit different than other teenager’s lives. She has to, of course, keep her dad’s job secret from people and her family has moved around a lot. Her mother died when she was fairly young and her older sister is away at college so now it is just her and her dad.

When her dad tells her that he thinks it is time they move again, she isn’t on board with it. She really likes this town and has established relationships with people with whom she doesn’t want to leave like her best friend Becca but also because she has met a vampire named Richard who she has developed feelings for. Unfortunately, she isn’t real sure if Richard returns those feelings for her.

Her father tells her that there is a huge threat to the entire town by something known as Black Suits. They look like human men wearing black suits and sunglasses who go around knocking on doors and questioning people to death. He has never actually encountered these creatures before now and even the agency he works for isn’t even sure they exist but two other hunters have told him about them and he heard that these Black Suits once wiped out an entire town in Texas so he is pretty nervous about this new threat. He lets her decide if they should stay and fight them or leave.

I think the storyline was original and the main character, Catherine, was mature enough that I was able to relate to her without thinking I had a huge generation gap. The only thing I think the book lacked was humor. I only remember kind of laughing in one spot. Other than that, the book was really enjoyable. I liked it enough that I bought the second book in the series.

I have to add one little thing that is driving me nuts. It has nothing to do with the actual book or I guess it does a little. The book was written in the first-person POV with Catherine telling the story but I kept thinking that Catherine sometimes thinks more like a guy than a girl so I decided to look up the author to see what gender he/she was. But even after looking at the Facebook page and a few other sites like Amazon and Goodreads, I could not figure it out. I can only assume this author does not want anyone to know who he/she really is. It’s a mystery!

 

 

Endless Knight – The Arcana Chronicles – Kresley Cole

This is the best series I have read in a long time. It keeps me on edge and guessing at all times.

In the last book, the Flash happened…something akin to a solar flare that turned every living thing in its path to ash. Evie lost everyone she knew except Jackson Deveaux who is has turned out to be a very capable protector.

Before the Flash, Evie had nightmares, visions and even people talking to her in her head. She thought she was going crazy but now she knows they were all warnings about the Flash and to help her with the game. Yes, the game. She learned…through a boy named Matthew who talks to her in her head…that she is part of a sick and terrifying game that pits teenager against teenager against each other. Each teen or young adult is one of the 22 Major Arcana from a Tarot deck. Evie is The Empress. Each Arcana has powers and Evie finally came into hers at the end of the last book. This game has apparently been going on for thousands of years, the characters being reincarnated again and again. At the end, only one can live.

Evie doesn’t want to play the game but has to since other players will be coming after her. At the end of the last book, she killed one of them and Jack saw it. She had been keeping it a secret from him but now he knows.

Already, two of the Arcana have allied with Evie. Apparently, in previous games, the Empress and Death have always been the last two players so everyone will either align with one of them or go after the two of them. Selena is the Archer and has aligned with Evie even though neither of them trust the other and Selena is hot for Jackson. Matthew is the Fool. He tells Evie that they’ve always been the best of friends. He sees the past, future and present. He’s autistic and the information he gives is sometimes in riddles or doesn’t seem helpful but what he says always comes true. He has also aligned with Evie.

In this book, Evie is on still on her way to see her grandmother, if she is still alive, so she can tell her how to end the game without having to kill everyone. She has to travel through dangerous territory where cannibals and bagmen live. Bagmen are zombie-like creatures who used to be human but the Flash morphed them into something else. They are super strong and attack people for their blood. They are constantly thirsty and will suck up any water source but prefer blood. Their bite is infectious so more and more humans are turning into bagmen. The cannibals are being led by some crazy person who could be one of the Arcana.

There are spoilers below. I’m going to try not to spoil the end of the book but there was a lot that happened in this book and this was a major part of it.

She gets abducted by Death who she believes is going to kill her. He takes her to his mansion where he is living in luxury while the rest of the world is struggling. She learns that she and Death have a long history. Death has won at least the last two games and is thousands of years old. The winner gets immortality. Death’s touch is fatal to anyone except for Evie which he learned in one of the previous games. He went to kill her by touching her but she didn’t die so he abducted her. I guess he was so desperate to be able to touch someone, he didn’t care if she was his enemy. And apparently, Evie was not a nice person in previous lives. She pretended she liked Death and then tried to kill him and he fell for it twice. Death still seems to be holding on to some kind of feelings for her. He actually is a decent guy. Evie starts to have feelings for him.

Even though I felt bad for Death because Evie is the only one he can touch, my heart was breaking for Jackson. I like Jackson and Evie together even though both of them make things difficult on themselves because of their pride and insecurities. While I was reading, I was wondering if this is going to be the start of a long drawn-out love triangle. I certainly hope not. Either you love one or the other. I was just hoping Evie didn’t choose Death because he can’t have anyone else.

This book introduced many more characters and the game is getting more complicated. There’s the army out there terrorizing everyone still. Evie learns that the Lovers who are a pair of sick and demented twins who like to torture people are part of that army. Their father leads it.

And then there are all of the other players out there that have yet to be revealed.

This series is so exciting!