Shadow is a young girl, living with her two aunts in a small cottage (definitely gives off Sleeping Beauty vibes) training to be a noblewoman meant to go live in the castle with her mother – although it is never mentioned who her mother is or why she’s training, although, the “who” and “why” is pretty clear from the start of the story, if paid close attention to.
However, Shadow is not in the mood to be all noble and dainty. She’d rather join and become a member of the Guild – a network of spies/assassins working for the Queen of Renovia – and fight for her country.
Caledon Holt/Cal is the Queen’s deadliest, most feared assassin who does his job with utmost perfection, no wonder he’s the queen’s favorite. However, Cal didn’t want to be a servant of the kingdom but was forced to take up the job, because of a blood promise made by his father. Now all Cal wants, is to find the scrolls that Queen wants and free himself from his duty and promise.
When Cal kills the King’s brother, Grand Prince Alast, whilst saving Shadow (whom he doesn’t know at the time), he is deemed a traitor and is sent to prison by the Queen. Shadow sees this as a way out of her imperial duties and hatches a plan to save Cal, by freeing him from prison and posing as his apprentice to help him in his mission. What she doesn’t know is that Cal is just feigning the whole arrest, so as to complete the plan laid out by the Queen herself.
Unbeknown to each other’s secrets and purposes, they both set out together to find the scrolls that hold all information regarding the magic in the country, and what could either be the uprise or the downfall of their kingdom, depending on who gets it. Along the way they’re going to have to battle evil monks, suspicious hosts, each other, especially when it comes to their own feelings for one another that just seems to be growing…
Albeit a confusing start, the book manages to grasp the reader’s attention within a few chapters. What I appreciated most about the book was its fast-paced plotline, diving straight into who the characters are, what they want, and how they are going to get it – the adventure starts off almost instantly, keeping your attention entirely fixed on every word. If you are a fan of fast-paced, fantasy books, this one is definitely an add-on to your TBR list.
Oh My Gosh!!! I am still not over how obsessively good this book is. Besides being a retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” – A classic fairytale by the Grimm brothers in which twelve sisters, each more beautiful than the last, dance all night, wearing out their shoes by morning despite being securely locked up in their room by their father – this book is a whole new outlook to the plot with gruesomely horrifying twists and turns, mind games that’ll keep the mind churning, and illustrations that will make your bones chill to the core.
Annaleigh, the fifth oldest among twelve sisters, is now second in line to her father’s inheritance after the deaths of her older sisters – four consecutive deaths, one after the other – the most recent being Eulalie, who plunged to her death from a cliff, when (as rumor has it) she was running off to elope with her lover. However, Annaleigh does not believe that her family is cursed – as believed by the townspeople – but acts of murder by someone who is out to eliminate her and her sisters, one by one. But who? On top of that, the sisters end up discovering a magic door that transports them to wherever they wish to go, allowing them to attend lavish balls and dance with handsome men till their shoes wear out.
When things start to get out of control, with the girls addicted to sneaking out and dancing till sunrise and having no clue on how to find the killer who, as it seems, is now after Annaleigh herself – Annaleigh is just about losing her mind, or so it seems… However, there seems to be a lot of, “Is this real, or not” going in. Determined to find the killer of her sisters, Annaleigh will
do anything to protect and prevent any more of her sisters from sharing the same fate, even at the cost of her own sanity!
Color Outside the Lines is an anthology about interracial relationships across time and genres.It’s about the ways in which these relationships are both different and the same as the ones that aren’t interracial; it not only talks about love, culture, and prejudice but also about family, friendships, communication, expectations, and legacies, from different points of view.This book elaborates on one point: love has no boundaries! It’s not caged within walls with certain rules and regulations, but creates a pathway for the union of two souls, regardless of the so-called societal beliefs which the authors did a wonderful job in exploring and conveying many of these factors in their stories. Although I could review each story, it wouldn’t do justice to the book, because collectively this
book voices a stronger message and is easier to understand and refer to, when reading each author’s take on the shared topic. There’s a story for everybody within these pages, a story you will connect to in some way or the other – whether it’s about not being aware of the monumental differences between cultures, the way one kind-hearted person can change your life, or the female/female Hades/Persephone reimagination you’ve always wanted – while also enlightening and making one aware of other’s feelings and thoughts. The authors have created a kaleidoscope of voices that illuminate how much we need more diverse literature and just how important these voices are. A very interesting and encouraging book that I would recommend to readers of all ages.
“Was that all it took to make a monster? A label and the accusations of others?”
The stunning finale of the epic fantasy duology from author Beth Revis. Alchemy student turned
necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness–but
can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?
The plague has been eradicated from Lunar island, and the people are on the path of healing
themselves and all that’s been savaged. But the girl who saved them has been labeled a monster.
A monster that should be hanged for her evil use of necromancy. Greggori “Grey” Astor is in a dilemma – hate Nedra, the girl he loves, for what she’s done, or
risk everything he’s ever known to protect her – all this while figuring out his new role at thecourt. Determined to help Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the AllyrianEmpire in his plan to rebuild Lunar island. But the emperor has another plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Grey wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying with the king threatens the one he loves most: Nedra.
Resides at the quarantine hospital along with her army of revenants, Nedra wants nothing more than to keep her sister, Nessie, by her side. But when her revenants start to become increasinglyinhuman (like her sister), Nedra filled with guilt vows to find a way to free the dead and resurrecting her sister from her state.
But the people want someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. When a battle with an even more terrifying adversary pushes Nedra to the darkest depths of her powers,she and Grey will be forced to decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to save their homeand the people they love the most.
Veronica Clarke is living the perfect life – a “perfect” high school student, first in line to be valedictorian, a “perfect” boyfriend, part of the most popular clique in high school with “perfect” friends. She’s never failed a test in her life, and has always been the “Golden Girl” everyone loves and adores. But life can’t be that fair now, can it…
When her so-called “perfect” boyfriend pokes holes in his condom to get her pregnant and prevent her from moving away for college (creepy, I know), her pregnancy test coming out positive is probably the first test she wishes she failed. She knows she has to get an abortion, and the only option is in a clinic 994 miles away in Albuquerque, NM.
Fearing everyone’s reaction and the notion of her image being destroyed, she can’t let anyone know what she’s about to do. And she has no way of getting to the clinic. With no other option, she turns to the last person she’d ever ask for help from – Baily Butler. Her ex-best friend and the weird girl in school who everyone keeps away from. What started off as a simple road trip to execute a simple plan, ends up becoming a once-in-a-lifetime mad adventure.
While tackling various important topics (teenage pregnancy, abortion, abandonment, religion), the book never loses its hilarious and fun charm, keeping the reader hooked to its pages, while also acknowledging the problems of today. What I liked about it was that it addressed the issue
of misogyny and control over women’s bodies in a very real manner, while also beautifully commenting on women’s rights and how far we’ve come in claiming what’s ours.
With all the sarcastic comedy, insanely dramatic characters, two ex-BFFs who are poles apart, and one grand escapade – you won’t be getting bored anytime soon!
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Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw is a blizzard of cold magic and wicked woods. Secrets fill the air, suffocating every breath. Lies and betrayal run deep into the bottomless lake. One boy is missing. One boy is dead.
Nora Walker has lived her whole life in the town of Fir Haven. It is where she was born, it is where she will die. Just like every other Walker before, she was born with nightshade in her blood and shares a strong connection with the woods surrounding her little town. Woods that some say are magical. Cursed, even. Rumored to be a witch and feared by many around her, she finds solace in the woods and the teachings of her ancestors.
During one of her ventures through the woods, she comes upon Oliver Huntsman, the boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago – and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but he’s alive with no memory of the time he’s been missing. But something’s not right, and Nora knows it. Oliver is hiding something, something that could eventually destroy the feelings she’s come to develop for this mysterious boy. And why is there an uneasy shift in the woods at his presence?
When she discovers that a boy died the same night Oliver went missing, Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind what happened that unfaithful night. With every person
holding secrets of their own, she doesn’t know if anyone is worth trusting. And just how far will someone go to keep their secrets buried…
Ernshaw’s personification of the woods is possibly the best character in the book, the true villain of the story. This book is truly an atmospheric novel. From the spooky forest to the ominous snowstorms – no amount of closing the book will make you feel safe. Readers, be ready to be frightened and try to unravel this mystery that will leave you second-guessing till the very last chapter!
Kierstan White has done it again. She never fails to write a book that doesn’t have you completely indulged. Her usage of old myths and folktales with a twist, has readers diving into a world that is all too familiar, yet refreshing as well. The Guinevere Deception is nothing less, being a continuation of the Arthurian legends after King Arthur defeats the Dark Queen.
Princess Guinevere has come to marry the charismatic, savior of Camelot, King Arthur. However, she’s not there to play wife, but protect him from the dark magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, and from those who want to see his idyllic city fail – a plan conjured by the great wizard Merlin, who has been banished from Camelot.
However, Guinevere isn’t who everyone thinks of her to be. She’s a changeling, a girl/ witch who has given up everything – even her name, her true identity – to protect Camelot. She has to play the role of Queen, navigating her way through court, and be the woman everyone expects her to be – look pretty and gossip around with all the other ladies. While that sounds fun, she has some bigger problems – such as “how do you use magic to protect the King?” in a city that has banished and eradicated any form of magic. The only other person who knows her true identity and the reason for her arrival is her husband, King Arthur. Throughout her stay in the castle, and everyday a step closer to figuring out who the enemy is, Guinevere ends up forming allies, allies that steer the plot forward. Each character we are introduced to have secrets of their own, intensifying the suspense and the plot.
Filled with magic – good and evil; strong females – who’ve got the beauty and the brains; kings and knights – who are all loyally swoon-worthy; and a battle in which the enemy is the person you’d least expect. This book doesn’t leave any stone unturned, leaving you feeling restless for the next book, and asking one question…When is the next book going to be published???
Walking Dead meets The Black Cauldron in this epic fantasy novel, involving a grave-digger with an ax, a map-maker with no family name, and lots of dead people. The perfect mix to brew a troublesome adventure.
Colbren is a small town on the outskirts of a mysteriously enchanted forest that is home to magical creatures and a cauldron that holds the power of bringing the dead back to life. But those are all just stories. One that only the older generations of the village believe in – guarding their village and houses with iron fences and knowing not to go into the forest of sundown. Granted that no creature of any sort has treaded past the forest edge (or that anyone’s seen) in a long time. But that slowly starts to change…
Adryn a.k.a Ryn is a grave-digger like her father, who lives with her younger siblings – Gareth and Cerridwen. Their parents are both dead but have an uncle, their caretaker, who is mysteriously missing. Ryn’s never been afraid of the forest, believing the folktales, and having encountered her first bone house (the animated dead) at the age of six – she knows what resides in it and that they never leave the forest, only awakening after dark. However, she starts to grow anxious when they start venturing closer and closer to the edge – until one day, they cross it. Vowing to protect her family from danger, she decides to destroy the very root of all these problems – the cauldron, even if it means going beyond the forest.
Meanwhile, Ellis, a mapmaker, has traveled to the village, aiming to draw a map, detailing all that is beyond the forest, where many few (actually none) dare to venture. But there’s
something else – he’s hiding something, something he doesn’t want anyone to know about. And what is with the excruciatingly chronic pain in his left arm? While camping in the forest, a bone house attacks him, and Ryn ends up saving his life.
Needing Ryn’s help on his journey, the pair form an unusual alliance – both having ulterior motives, with wanting to find the legendary castle that houses the magical cauldron.
Told in alternating narratives, the book immediately dives into a world of death, family, love and magic from the very first page. What I loved about the characters is that there is no character development. It’s more of Ryn and Ellis coming to understand and respect each other’s characteristics, admiring traits of one another they (and often others) consider a flaw. There’s a sweet slow-burning romance, but it all comes together in the end.
The lush and gorgeous, fast-paced writing with a fun, humorous, folklore vibe will have you finishing the book in one sitting. Anyone who likes strong female fantasy characters and Welsh settings should pick up THE BONE HOUSES when it comes out
“A witch and a witch hunter bound by holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story would end — a stake and a match.”
The land of Belterra is plagued by fear of magic and witches. With the citizens wanting nothing more than the witches to be eradicated and burned at the stake, they walk the streets in disguise, hiding the smell that emits from their magic – that is until they themselves can destroy the humans, especially the royal lineage.
Two years ago, Lou left her coven to save her life. Being forced to suppress her magic and live life as a normal citizen – she subjects to lying, stealing, and killing (if necessary) to survive in the city of Cesarin, where life is hard, especially for women. She manages to fare undetected, being extra careful every step of the way…until one burglary – probably her most important one – goes wrong, setting the wheels in motion.
With the chasseurs — ruthless witch hunters affiliated with the church — and enemies of her past hot on her trail, Lou ends up in a compromising position with the Captain of the Chasseurs, Reid Diggory, a very detrimental position for the both of them. To avert any unnecessary situations, the Archbishop – leader of the Chasseurs, who is just as cold-hearted – comes up with a solution: Lou can either go to jail for her thefts or marry Reid and save his virtuous reputation.
Lou, being the smart girl she is, obviously agrees for the marriage as a means to protect herself from her enemies, as does Reid to salvage his repute. But they both could not be any more different from each other.
Lou is a strong, independent badass witch, with a high dosage of spunk and sass. Loves breaking rules, hates following orders. She is a feminist through and through, fully capable of saving herself, knowing when and where to put the men in their places.
Reid is a hard-core disciplined soldier, who blindly believes in the rules and regulations set by the church and Archbishop – a man he sees as his father. He will follow orders, even if his conscience says otherwise. He has a sweet soul that’s been tainted by the blood and cruelty of the Chasseurs.
Their arguments will leave you in hysterics. Their attempt at trying to be civil to each other will have you second-guessing their emotions. But their differences and learning from and accepting one another is what progresses the plot into creating a perfect atmosphere for a slow-burning romance that will keep you on your toes.
Besides the protagonists, the side leads are a complete entertainment package. There’s: bitchy, but loyal Coco – a blood witch and probably the best girlfriend Lou can ever have; sweet and adorable Ansel – the teenage soldier who is basically the-boy-next-door; And lovely, but stubborn Beau – the Prince. It’s a dream team, I tell you. And let’s not forget Lou’s enemies from her past – who exactly are they and why are they after her life? Adding in a few other black and white characters. It’s a puzzle figuring out if anyone is a villain in this story or if everyone’s just a hero of their own story…
With her fast-paced writing and plot twists at every corner, Shelby Mahurin has done a marvelous job at creating a world that you will dive right into and characters you’d want to befriend. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.
“War is no good for the young, or for love.”
War is no good for anyone, yet peculiarly many love stories begin within that scenario – puts the entire concept of love into perspective, doesn’t it? How it’s not all about love at first sight and happy endings. Dark of the West is effective at voicing just that in a subtly chaotic manner.
Set in a world, currently, in the midst of a not-so-secret war between Monarchy and Dictatorship, a princess and a lieutenant dare to fall in love…
Arelia Isendare a.k.a Ali is a princess of a small kingdom in the North. With her elder brother Reni in line for the throne, Ali has always been shielded from the knowledge of politics and danger that lies beyond the walls of her castle, wanting nothing more than passing her exams and joining the University. But when people from other parts of the world start infiltrating the palace – lies fill the halls, secrets are whispered around every corner, and everything she has ever known about her own family might all be a bluff – Ali learns that textbooks don’t reveal everything. Determined to know the truth, Ali is willing to do anything, even if it means going against those she loves.
Athan Dakar, is the youngest son of a ruthless general. Born and brought up on the battlefield, Athan – a fighter pilot himself – has never lived a life of peace. Always under the shadow of his obedient, highly respected brothers, he’s constantly scrutinized by his father, who sees him as a person of very little value. To prove his worth, and protect the people he loves, Athan learns that he needs to conceal his disapproval of war (the only thing that matters to his family), and show loyalty to everything he’s grown to hate, even it means siding with the ideologies he despises.
When Athan’s mother (the only person to ever understand him) is assassinated, his father – believing it to be none other than Queen of Etania, Sinora Lehzar, Ali’s mother, behind it – sends Athan undercover into Etania’s court to spy upon the royal family. Would have been easy if he didn’t end up falling for the girl he’s been tasked to spy on. And Ali, who detests the Safire and their oh-so-noble doctrine, finds a friend (and maybe something more) in a certain lieutenant of the same. Despite the mutual attraction, both Athan and Ali are up for more than they bargained for, especially when caught in a tangle of lies, politics, guns, revenge and chaos.
Inspired by a World war II-era Europe, Hathway does a tremendously great job at hooking the reader from the prologue itself (tip: go back to the prologue once you finish). Her writing is fast-paced and easily understandable, with only a slight confusion regarding the geography of the world. This is a definite add-on to lovers of all genre and will become a favorite fairly quickly.