Reading Challenge: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge

Joint Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Posted June 4, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer EstepReviewer: Ames, Holly and Rowena
Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #2
Also in this series: Kill the Queen
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 451
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Harper Voyager Trade Paperback OriginalMagic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s . . . well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

When we left Everleigh (Evie) at the end of Kill the Queen, she had just killed her cousin and taken her place as the Winter Queen of Bellona. She’s still learning her powers and finding her footing, but she knows she has to try to salvage relations with neighboring kingdom Andvari if she’s going to defeat the king of Morta, who orchestrated the murder of her family. Lucas Sullivan, aka Sully, her would-be love interest, is the much beloved bastard son of the Andvari king, and he’s able to secure an invitation for her to visit his father, though he cannot guarantee her safety.

Assassination attempts, political maneuverings and the strange growing connection between Evie and Sully means this is one trip none of them will ever forget.

Holly: We read Kill the Queen together, and I’m glad we’re reading the rest of the series together, too. I really came to admire Evie and the Black Swan troupe in the first book, and I enjoyed them even more here. Evie’s strength really came through and I loved how she put all the nobles in their place.

Rowena: Yes, Evie is really becoming that bad bitch Queen. I mean, the way that she just kept right on slapping her nobles down when they tried to come for her at the beginning was freaking fantastic. I loved that she wasn’t having anyone shenanigans but what really cemented my love for her was the way that she conducted herself while in Andvari. They showed her no kind of love but that didn’t stop her from doing what’s right and protecting those she loved…even when she had to hurt Sully to save everyone.

Ames: I loved Evie’s evolution in this book! And yes, she did become a bad bitch Queen. The way she handled all those snobby nobles was awesome and I reading her thought processes and her realization of how she needs to handle everyone really puts us in her shoes. Also, the growth of her character. In book 1 she was like 7th in line for the throne or something like that so she grew up knowing how the game was played but was never expected to wear the crown. That disbelief and self-doubt she felt when she takes on the crown was so believable and made her growth that much more satisfying.

Rowena: This was such a great book and I read the entire thing in a little over a day. Evie’s adventures kept me invested from beginning to end and that ending? Goodness, that ending was just perfect for me. I cannot wait to read Crush the King with you guys.

Holly: I love how Evie is growing into herself and figuring things out.

My one disappointment with this book is the development of the romance. I am not a fan of the way things were glossed over in the garden and I don’t like that they never had a full conversation about Evie’s actions. I was pretty underwhelmed by the ending. It kind of came out of nowhere for me.

Ames: I agree with Holly, the romance was the weakest part of the story. However, the overall story was really strong so although I would have liked more when Sully and Evie came together, a discussion about her actions foremost, the rest of the story was so awesome it was ok.

Wena, I knew when Everleigh told Sully that story that it was going to be acted out by the end. That was so predictable! LOL I really could have done without that.

Rowena: I liked the way he showed his love for her. It was just the right amount of cheesy to satisfy and I dug that.

Ames: Oh the other thing I found predictable was the villain in Andvari. I liked the misleading clues pointing in one direction but I knew who it was.

Rowena: Yeah, I saw who the villain was pretty early on.

Holly: The villain wasn’t a surprise to me, either, but I did like the author’s effort to misdirect us.

Ames: I loved that we saw some friendly faces in Andvari. Alvis! And the introduction of the gargoyles. I liked Grimley.

strong>Rowena: Grimley, Gemma, and Alvis were great! I loved seeing Everleigh’s reunion with Gemma and Alvis. With as much grief as she was getting at every turn, it was nice to finally see some friendly faces.

Holly: I was so happy when Evie reconnected with Gemma and Alvis. Do you think we’ll see more from Gemma in the future? I hope so. She’s pretty awesome.

Ames: I really hope Gemma gets a story eventually. She was an interesting character. Also, I really like the world-building that Estep has created with this series so I would happily revisit it for other characters.

Rowena: My favorite part of the book was really seeing Everleigh coming into her powers and realize what it meant to be a Winter Queen. Her battle with Maevyn was awesome.

Holly: I agree the best part of the book was seeing Evie come into her powers and realize what it means to truly be Queen.

I can’t wait for you two to read the next book so we can discuss.

Rowena: I’m really looking forward to the next book so it shouldn’t be long before I jump right in.

This was a strong addition to the series and I’m stoked that we’re reading it together. I’m curious to see how Everleigh and her friends take down the King of Morta but I’m so here for it all. Even though the romance was lacking, I still really enjoyed this book so it gets a 4.25 out of 5 stars from me. What about you guys?

Holly: I really love the world-building and how well Evie is handling everything. The romance was pretty weak and I thought it was a bit predicable, but it was still really good. I give it 4 out of 5.

Ames: I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5 as well. Very well done, solid political intrigue, admirable character growth but was a bit of a miss on the romance.

Final Grades

Ames: 4 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Crown of Shards

four-stars


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Featured Review: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Posted May 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Featured Review: Alpha Night by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #4, Psy/Changeling #19
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Tangle of Need, Caressed By Ice
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her breathtaking Psy-Changeling Trinity series with a mating that shouldn’t exist…

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

Holly: I haven’t loved the last few releases in this series, but I really adored this book. I loved the dynamic between Selenka and Ethan, and I really loved Selenka’s pack.

Casee: I adored this book as well. Like you, I haven’t particularly enjoyed the last few releases. This book was more than a pleasant surprise.

Rowena: I think I enjoyed the last few releases more than you guys and I really liked this one as well. I’ve been in a weird reading mood this past week but buckling down with this book was good for me.

Casee: One of the things I liked was that just because Selenka and Ethan were instantly mated, they weren’t just happy-happy right away.

Rowena: I liked the instant mating thing and I really, really loved Ethan and Selenka. I don’t think I’ve ever read the instant mating thing before, have you guys?

Holly: I know we haven’t seen the instant mating thing from Nalini Singh before. I thought that aspect of the book was really well done. Like Casee said, they weren’t immediately all happy happy just because they were fated mates. They had to learn each other. But I liked that the instant mating made them immediately commit. It wasn’t a matter of if they got together, but how they made a future work. The way Ethan was filled up by Selenka was well written.

Casee: I loved Selenka’s pack. Everyone from the Lieutenants to the Healer to the cubs. I did feel really bad for Selenka because of her relationship with her father. He was such an ass.

Holly: I did struggle with the pacing in the early part of the book. I felt like I got dropped into the middle of a story at first. It took probably a good quarter of the book before I remembered details from earlier in the series and felt like I knew what was what.

Casee: I felt the same way. The information about Selenka’s pack was like a million books ago. It took me a bit to remember as well.

Rowena: I didn’t prepare for this read and it feels like the last book in this series came out so long ago so, like Holly, it took me a while to catch up on who was who again and what was what. Once I caught up, things really picked up for me. I enjoyed seeing everyone again, seeing our friends from the DarkRiver and all of our Psy friends.

Casee: Did you both figure out his designation?

Holly: Yes, I figured out his designation early on. I liked how his abilities morphed based on his upbringing.

Rowena: I thought Ehtan would end up being what he was and I thought it was a neat spin on that designation. He’s so different from the others that I thought it was interesting. I liked seeing him become friends with people, I really loved seeing him form bonds outside of Selenka’s pack and I really loved how fiercely loyal Selenka’s pack became to Ethan, right from the jump. There was no questioning Selenka’s authority or Selenka’s mate, there was just a ready acceptance that I felt Ethan really needed.

Nalini Singh is really good at complicated relationships and seeing the different kinds of relationships in this story was just great. From Ethan and Selenka to the other mated couples but also Mercy and Ethan and hell, even Nomi and Blaise. They’re all different kinds of relationships and I thought each of them was interesting in their own ways.

Holly: I agree, Singh is really good at complicated relationships. I love seeing Ethan navigate his way to forgiveness with the other Arrows, and how things circled back around with Selenka’s father.

Casee: I also enjoyed seeing his relationships with people in the pack develop, as well as with the Arrows. Ethan has never trusted anyone for good reason. I am curious to see what happens when Ming LeBon shows back up.

Rowena: I really liked this book and am looking forward to seeing where Singh takes up from here after what Kaleb and Aden do at the end of this one. Shit just got real and complicated, real fast….and I’m here for it. Who is the next couple, do you guys know? I give this book 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I’m looking forward to more from this pack, and I definitely want to see where she takes things after the events at the end of this book. I don’t think we’ve heard yet who the next couple will be, but I’ll be here for it.

I’m giving this 4 out of 5.

Casee: I really hope there are more books coming out from this pack. I really enjoyed Selenka’s relationship with Valentin too. Freaking bears. I just generally enjoyed the entire dynamic of this book.

I’m giving this a 4.25 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

four-half-stars


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Joint Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Posted May 14, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #6
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews is the 6th book in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve been after Rowena to read this series for years. I’m so glad she’s finally getting into it.

Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta, are facing a crisis. The children of the Pack keep going loup – meaning their human side isn’t able to take control of their animal side and they turn into mindless beasts. So when they’re offered Panacea – the only known cure/preventative for loupism – in exchange for bodyguard duty in Europe, they know they can’t refuse, even though they’re 100% sure they’re walking into a trap.

Holly: Magic Rises really steps things up in Kate’s world and gives us more insight into her background and what she’s going to be facing in the future. What did you think of it?

Rowena: This book definitely keeps the Kate Daniels party going for me. It was super good and even though I got mad a couple of times while reading it, alls well that ends well and I still love the Beast Lord.

The story really cemented my love for both Kate and for Curran. But also the pack members that traveled with them to Europe. From Derek to Andrea to Doolittle and hell, even the Bear and his daughter, I loved them all and holy hell my heart hurts for both Raphael and for Andrea. This book was jammed back with action, with angst and loads of other emotions that I’ve come to expect from an Ilona Andrews book and I was super happy with the end product here. This was a damn good book.

Holly: I got super mad a couple times while reading this one, too. Let’s talk about Hugh for a minute. Hugh and Kate were raised by the same person, her step-father Voron. They share a certain kinship because of it, but Hugh wants to bring Kate to her biological father and Kate knows that’s a death sentence. Hugh should be a bad guy, but I could never hate him. He makes me angry sometimes, yes, but I never wanted him to go away. What about you?

There was definitely a lot of action. My heart hurt for them at the end.

Where does this book rate for you vs the previous books in the series?

Rowena: Hugh, to me, is that annoying older brother that is more of a pest than evil. Does that make sense? I don’t hate him but I don’t exactly like him either. I’m curious about him and I’m curious to see the Roland that he knows and I’m mighty curious about who is right about Roland. I never wanted him to go away either and I actually low key trust him to get Kate’s back but only if they’re not fighting against each other.

So much happened in this one and I was right there for each and every single page of it. Not once did I want to browse and skip ahead. I was fully invested in what was going on, trying to figure out what Curran was up to and remembering every character that was introduced. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to this series. There are so many aspects to this world and I’m just really enjoying every new thing that I learn. This is one of the more compelling series that I’ve read in a while and I’m not ready for this series to end.

My favorite book in the series remains Magic Strikes but this was definitely in the top 5 for sure. You?

Holly: Hugh is definitely the annoying older brother.

This is in the Top 5 for me as well. Magic Breaks isn’t my favorite book of the series, but this is a solid read. I can’t wait for you to finish the series!

I give this one 4.25 out of 5.

Rowena: I’m super excited to continue. I sincerely hope that Ilona Andrews never stops writing great books like this one. I give this one 4.25 out of 5 as well.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-half-stars


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Featured Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 30, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Featured Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #5.5
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Penguin, Ace
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: None
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 443
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Some people have everything figured out—Andrea Nash is not one of those people.

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is to try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate…and must work with Raphael. As Andrea’s search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, she knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a back seat to saving the world…

Andrea and Raphael’s romance started earlier in the series. Raphael pursued her pretty heavily and they ended up moving in together, but then Raphael thought Andrea chose her job over him, and it pissed him off. Then she disappeared without a word and made things worse. Now she’s back, and her best friend, Kate Daniels, has hired her to work with her as a PI. Aunt B, Raphael’s mom and Alpha of Clan Bouda, is after her to join the Pack. Raphael turns up with a bimbo in tow. To top it all off, Andrea has a new case that needs her attention.

This is a .5 book. It’s set in the world of Kate Daniels, but Kate doesn’t play a very large part in the series. Andrea is dealing with things in this book while Kate is dealing with something else.

Holly: I’ll be honest, this isn’t a favorite of mine. I really like both Raphael and Andrea as Kate’s friends, but I didn’t love reading about them as the main characters of the novel.

Casee: I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I don’t know if I would have felt different if I hadn’t listened to it on audio. It was the southern drawl that Andrea had when she was trying to get information or act menacing that really annoyed me.

Holly: I think that’s funny, since I know you’ve enjoyed other audiobooks in the series and they’re all narrated by the same person.

Rowena: I liked this one. Sure, I didn’t like it as much as I liked some other of the other books in the series but I still enjoyed it.

Holly: There were parts I liked, but as a whole this isn’t one of the better books in the series.

Casee: I found Andrea to be extremely annoying. Raphael was just meh.

Rowena: I thought the romance between Raphael and Andrea was nice and angsty. I thought Andrea’s struggles made sense for her background and when she got her revenge against what Raphael did to her house? I loved it.

Holly: Both Andrea and Raphael got on my nerves at different times in the story, but I do like them as a couple.

Casee: Ascanio was actually my favorite character in this book. I am really enjoying how his character is developing.

Holly: Ascanio definitely does some growing up in this book. I liked him a lot. I really liked the scenes with Aunt B, too.

Rowena: Ascanio is really growing up and I’m liking what I’m seeing with his growth. You can see that he really respects both Kate and Andrea. I also really enjoy the friendship between Kate and Andrea.

Casee: My favorite part was when Kate showed up toward the end.

Rowena: I think the weakest part of this story was the whole Anapa thing. I can’t say that I was all that invested or even interested in all of that. I was just there for Andrea and Raphael, seeing Kate and Curran and our other friends. Still, it was good.

Casee: I’m with Wena on this one. I wasn’t invested in the actual plot. I was there for the same reasons. I love the friendship between Kate and Andrea. Kate won’t let Andrea get away with anything, not even her own emotions. I enjoyed the romance between Raphael, but they were both such dicks about it at the beginning that I had a hard time. I expected to be annoyed with Rapahel (Holly), but I was surprised to be annoyed by Andrea since she’s so kickass in the previous books.

If the book was half as long as it was, I would have been good.

Rowena: Oh and in the beginning when Raphael brought Rebecca to Andrea’s office, I wanted to kick him in the dick. I was super mad at him for a lot of the beginning of this book. I spent more time annoyed with him than I ever did with Andrea. When Andrea finally comes clean about everything to him, I felt how stupid he felt. LOL.

Casee: I wanted to junk punch Rafael when he brought Rebecca to the office too. How old are we? Seriously.
I did find it incredibly amusing when Andrea played the carpet prank on him. Lol.

This one gets a 3 out of 5 from me.

Rowena: This was a nice little appetizer before I jump right back into a Kate and Curran story. I’m ready for Kate and Curran again. I’m ready for some Derek and Julie goodness too. I’m also very interested in getting to know Ascanio more too. This one gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me. It was a solid read but not a favorite.

Holly: I agree this is a good in-between novel, though. As much as I love Kate, it’s good to step outside her head for a minute. Speaking of, I love how we get to see Kate from a different perspective here.
I’m giving it 3.25 out of 5.

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3.25 out of 5
Rowena: 3.5 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted April 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Also in this series: The Orchid Throne
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATEAs Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MENConrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) first came on my radar last year. I thought the cover was gorgeous and the premise intrigued me. It fell by the wayside until I saw the second book was going to be published soon. I asked Rowena and Amy if they wanted to read the first book with me, and they agreed.

Queen Euthalia was promised in marriage to the evil emperor of the realm in order to keep their island – and secrets – safe. For years she’s lived under the threat of their engagement, but she’s managed to keep him at bay by projecting a carefree, vapid image and playing a very delicate game of politics behind the scenes.

Now, a new threat has come to the shores of Calanthe….a changed wolf of a man, who is determined to avenge his family by murdering the Emperor. Conri needs Lia to agree to marry him….because prophecy says in order to defeat the emperor, he’s going to need her help.

Holly: This was different than I expected. It started really slow for me, and it took almost half the book before it picked up. What did you two think?

Ames: I agree, the beginning was slow for me too. But I was sucked into it when I realized Con had to go to Calanthe for magical reasons and that would make him and Lia meet. They were two strong characters and I liked them together.

Rowena: This one started off a bit slow for me too and even, in the end, I thought the world was interesting but I don’t know, in the end, I still didn’t completely connect with any of the characters and what was going on. I also wasn’t a fan of the jumping first-person POV business. In the beginning, it took me out of every chapter and I played catch up a lot.

strong>Ames: Lia is a true queen, worrying about her land and her people. This puts her at odds with Conri’s path of revenge because she sees his way as putting Calanthe in danger. And Conri wants revenge against the evil emperor Anure, who is responsible for his father’s death. And Conri’s own enslavement.

Holly: I do wonder how things are going to work out for them in the future. Lia’s sole focus is protecting Calanthe, and at times I wondered if her loyalty to the Island itself would put her at odds with Con. Even though they seemed to come to an understanding, I doubt it’s going to be smooth sailing going forward.

Holly: What did you think of Lia’s best friend, Tertulyn? She was obviously up to some shady stuff. Do you think she’s loyal or do you think she’s conspiring against Lia?

Ames: I don’t want Tertulyn to be a betrayer. But the way she was acting was so shady! I honestly thought she was there for Lia.

Rowena: I definitely think that Tertulyn is doing some shady shit right now. She’s too mad about Con and his men overtaking her family’s home and she thinks they’ve killed her family. I bet you she’s gone to Anure to betray Euthalia. I’m Enter ominous music here I’m not a fan of the way that Tertulyn acts and treats Euthalia, it doesn’t feel sincere to me so I’m thinking she’s definitely going to betray her.

Holly: I want Tertulyn to be loyal, but she’s definitely acting shady right now and I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to come out looking good in this.

Rowena: I agree with you, Holly. I just don’t have a good feeling about her so I’m counting on the betrayal. She’s gonna try and make a run of it as Anure’s wife, watch.

Ames: Also, how hilarious was Ambrose and his bird? That scene in the garden and then afterwards with the guards? I was cracking up!

Holly: I loved Ambrose and his bird. That scene in the garden was hilarious.

Rowena: I really liked Ambrose and his bird (and the staff) as well. He definitely marches to his own tune and seeing him annoy the snot out of Conri and then, later on, Euthalila, it was great.

Rowena: I am curious to see where their story takes them in the next book so I’m definitely interested in continuing the series. What about you guys?

Holly: I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes. I do wonder if the second book will also end in a cliffhanger. I haven’t heard how many books are planned for this series.

Ames: I’m definitely interested in reading more from this series. Lia and Con are going to argue over every step they take going forward. But I think they’ll make a good team when it comes time to fight Anure.

I know there’s a third book coming out next year – but I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series overall though.

Rowena: I do plan on reading the other books in this series but I have to say, I wasn’t all that jazzed about the ending of this book. I’m hoping that there won’t be any more of that nonsense.

Overall, this was an interesting start to a new series and I’m curious enough to want to continue so I’ll definitely be reading but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing of this story, the constant whiplash I got from the changing POV and that ending wasn’t my favorite either. I’d give this one 3 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree, the premise was interesting and I like the world, but the pacing was off and the ending frustrated me. I’m going to read the next book, but I think I’ll wait until we know how many are planned before I pick it up.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you guys – the pacing was a bit off and the beginning was very slow. However once things picked up I was into it right to the end. Yes the ending was abrupt and if I had read this book when it came out, I would have been super frustrated to wait a year to read the next one. LOL So knowing that’s how this book ended, I kind of want to wait until book 3 is released before reading book 2.

I really enjoyed the characters and once we got into the world-building, I liked that too. I’m giving The Orchid Throne 3.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

Forgotten Empire

three-half-stars


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