Tag: Fantasy

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted January 21, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Ames and Rowena
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Context Literary Agency
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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Series Rating: five-stars

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

This book came highly recommended by Holly so Ames and I chose to read it together this month and to say that it was a really great recommendation is putting it mildly. This book packed a really great punch and kicked off this series beautifully.

So this story is about Princess Lara of Miridrina who travels to the kingdom of Ithicana to fulfill her country’s part of the peace treaty with the late King of Ithicana. She is to marry King Aren of Ithicana but she is also putting into action, a plan that her father, the King of Miridrina, has been plotting for the last fifteen years. A plan that depends on Lara to make happen.

When Lara gets to Ithicana, she is not a fan of the King, his sister, or the people and she is deadset on the plan she was sent in for but the longer she’s there, the more she realizes that there are holes in what she grew up learning about Ithicana, it’s King and the people. The closer she gets to her husband, the more torn she is.

Lara’s journey is not an easy one because falling in love with her husband and her new home was not in the plan at all.

Rowena: Alright Ames, we’re kicking off 2021 on a great note, wouldn’t you agree? What did you think of this one?

Ames: I definitely agree- yay for us picking up our buddy reviews again! And second, thank you to Holly for recommending this series. I was in a bit of a slump so although this took me a minute to get into, once I was I couldn’t put it down. I was completely caught up in Lara’s story and you know what? I don’t even like spies or spy tropes. LOL But I liked Lara and I thought the author did an excellent job showing the struggle Lara was faced with. And the world-building was so easy to get into. It wasn’t heavy or difficult to follow at all.

What did you think?

Rowena: I think the same. It took me a little bit before I was fully invested in Lara’s journey but once the story took off, I was all in. I had a little bit of anxiety going on because like you, I’m not the biggest fan of spies or the spy trope but I thought Danielle L. Jensen handled everything well. Her writing style was really easy to follow and I finished this book, then immediately had to start the next book because I was that invested in what was going on.

I will say something that Holly brought up after I finished reading this one. I would have been royally pissed off if I had read this book back before book 2 was released. I don’t think I would have been able to stand not being able to continue the story after I was done with this one. This one ended on a sort of cliffhanger, do you think?

Ames: This is the exact reason why I let series build up before reading all the books close together. LOL, I could not have imagined waiting any time at all to see what happened with Lara! I jumped immediately into the next book. haha

I don’t want to be too spoilery but this book – there was one scene in particular where I was like “Nooooooooo!!!” and sure enough, it bit Lara in the ass. I was annoyed with Lara’s reticence in telling Aren how she felt. I understand that she was basically brainwashed by her father and his men regarding the Ithicanians but yeah, I was annoyed with Lara and how long she took to make up her mind. However, I understand WHY. I just didn’t like it. LOL.

Rowena: Haha, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I was screaming the same. That totally bit Lara in the ass and all I have to say for that is if she had opened her mouth, and trusted her husband (who had proven himself time and time again to her) with the truth, her ass would have been fine. But noooooo….haha.

I thought it took her far too long to come clean about everything and when she finally does, I was heavy sighing all over the place because girl…it was too little too late.

This book was super engaging and I couldn’t read it fast enough. From almost the beginning to the end, I could not get enough. I was wrapped up in everything that was going on and when the ending was coming and things were really coming together, I dreaded getting to the end. I didn’t want it to end. I was so invested in the romance between Aren and Lara, Lara getting to know the people of Ithicana and seeing her come to care for everyone. I think the weakest part of the story was that ending, which I thought was abrupt but I’m glad that I had the next book ready to go because I jumped right into the next book when I finished this one.

I’m so glad that we decided to give Danielle L. Jensen a try, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next book in this series. I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5, what about you?

Ames: I’m glad this book defeated my reading slump. It was super engaging and really, I can’t stress this enough, for a fantasy book the world-building was incredibly easy to get into. That’s huge for me because these days I lose interest so easily. I am giving The Bridge Kingdom 4.25 out of 5. And for potential readers out there, make sure you buy book 1 and book 2 so you don’t have to wait! LOL!

Final Rating

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom


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Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Posted December 28, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasReviewer: Holly
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Philip Battley
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Romance
Pages: 485
Length: 11 hours and 36 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

This special ebook edition of Sherry Thomas's extraordinary romantic fantasy debut, The Burning Sky—the first in the Elemental Trilogy—features a repackaged cover for her legions of romance fans and an excerpt from the sequel, The Perilous Sea.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

At Tracy’s recommendation, I requested the audiobook from the library and switched back and forth between listening and reading. I really liked the narrator. I feel like I lost some of the connection to the story by switching platforms, however. For awhile I was fully invested in the story and characters, but that fizzled a bit by the end.

Iolanthe Seabourne has been living with her mentor and guardian since she was two years old. He was the perfect guardian…until he wasn’t. She doesn’t understand what changed him from an honorable, loving man into an unscrupulous addict. For years, she’s been covering for him and trying to keep them afloat. When he begs her not to complete a potion she’s promised to make in exchange for allowing him to keep his position, he ruins it. She ends up calling down lightning to fix it, and that sets off a chain of events she could never have predicted. Unbeknownst to her, she is one of the great Elemental Mages – a mage who can control all four elements. Her lightning brought The Inquisitor after her, along with several other agents of Atlantis. But it also brought Prince Titus, the ruler of the realm, and her personal savior. Only he has his own agenda, and Iolanthe will be forced to learn some hard lessons.

Titus has always known his purpose..to find and protect the last great Elemental Mage. He’s been preparing for this his whole life…except he never imagined she’d be a girl. He’s hiding her in the human realm as a boy, but only until he can convince her to take out The Inquisitor and take on Atlantis.

Thomas has built an engrossing world, full of magic and possibilities. I really enjoyed the action and the progression of the story. It was interesting to see Titus and Iolanthe circle around each other. I hated that he took advantage of her and treated her poorly, but I also understood why.

Parts of this were predictable, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I do think both main characters lacked a bit of depth. Things were very much on the surface, especially with Iolanthe. I’m hoping we see more change and growth from her in the next two books.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

The Burning Sky Trilogy

three-stars


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Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Posted December 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #9
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 Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 333
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

The new, “heart-stopping”* novel in the New York Times bestselling series that “defines urban fantasy.”*

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Magic Binds is the ninth book in the Kate Daniels series and this book had a lot of the end is near vibes going for it, at least for me. Kate and Curran are planning their wedding and stuff just keeps coming up that they have to deal with and most of the shenanigans start and end with her evil ass manipulator of a father, Roland.

It took me a while to get this book read because I was super distracted by a bunch of other stuff going on in my life. This pandemic has introduced me to a bunch of new to me things and reading kind of fell to the side but I knew that I wanted to read this book and I knew that I was going to finish the Kate Daniels series this year and so I kept right on pushing through until there was no turning back. The Ilona Andrews duo are really good at their job. After nine books, you’d think that they would run out of steam but nope, they just keep right on delivering the goods.

I enjoyed this one a lot and I didn’t think I could love Kate and Curran any more than I already did but reading this book made a liar out of me. I loved them both more. I really like that though they’re both these serious badasses, at the end of the day, they’re just as normal as you and me. Kate had a job, she had a family and friends and she had a whole lot of responsibility. She didn’t take any of these things for granted and she worked her ass off to be there for everyone, get the job done, and made sure to be home every night to make dinner. It’s so easy to see yourself in Kate and in each and every single book, I connected with what she was going through, what she was feeling, and even though I didn’t always agree with her, I still really loved her character.

In this book, she’s dealing with her father taunting her, trying to drag her into one mess after another mess and she doesn’t have time for him or his shenanigans but when he kidnaps her friend, she can’t just sit idly by while Roland tortures him so she decides that she’s had enough of Roland’s shit and goes to get her friend.

This one is another winner and I am so sad that my reading adventure with Kate front and center is coming to an end. I’m really looking forward to continuing in the same world with the Aurelia Ryder and even the Iron Covenant series but I’m sad that Kate and Curran’s series is coming to an end. It’s been a really great reading adventure and this book was just one of many wonderful journeys. I love seeing everyone come together to help Kate fight the bad guys and there’s just so much goodness in this one. The humor that we all know and love, the action is there, and the characters are all shining examples of why this series is so popular. If you haven’t read this book (I’m looking at all of my So Cal blogger buddies), you should definitely fix it. It’s SOOOOO GOOOD, I promise!

Final Grade

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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Review: Enthroned by K.M. Shea

Posted December 4, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Enthroned by K.M. SheaReviewer: Holly
Enthroned by K.M. Shea
Series: King Arthur and Her Knights #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 5, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Time Travel
Pages: 126
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

The throne of King Arthur stands unclaimed.

Merlin has been working on his dream of uniting Britain for years, hiding behind an old-wise-man persona as needed for his goal. When the original Arthur runs off before the crowning ceremony, Merlin is forced to get creative. He casts a spell to enable the sword in the stone to choose a new ruler from across time.

But even Merlin couldn’t foresee that the magic would search for a king thousands of years into the future and choose the last person anyone would expect: a woman.

Britt Arthurs doesn’t mind a good fight, but beating the divided kingdoms of ancient Britain into submission while hiding her real identity is a bigger battle than she wants. She thought she was taking a quick tourist photo with a rusty sword. Instead she was ripped through time and faced with two impossibilities: the sword has chosen her as the new King Arthur, and Merlin is much younger and hotter than she expected!

With enemies on all sides and a wizardly advisor who defies his own legends, will Britt succeed in her role as the High King of Britain?

The finished King Arthurs and Her Knights series is based on Arthurian legends and lore. It is sprinkled with humor, love, and more than a dash of magic. If you enjoy strong characters and tales about the Knights of the Round Table, buy the King Arthurs series today!

Britt Arthurs is on holiday in England with her best friends when she touches an old sword in a graveyard and is transported back in time. The great wizard Merlin bespelled the sword to bring forward the one true King Arthur. No one expected King Arthur to be a woman, but the sword doesn’t lie, so….what are you gonna do? Britt is now stuck in a medieval time, tasked with uniting a country she knows little about.

I really want more Arthurian romances. Especially ones with gender swapped roles. Although the second half of this one was good, I didn’t love it. The first half was boring and featured a lot of tell, don’t show. There wasn’t much emotion or connection to the characters. It was like reading script. Plus, Britt’s ridiculous decision to believe she was dreaming was annoying and went on way too long.

The second half was better. Once Britt decided to accept her place as King Arthur and actually try to unite the kingdoms, I came to enjoy the story. Not a great story overall, but I liked it well enough to start the next book.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5

King Arthur and Her Knights

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken

Posted November 25, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. AikenReviewer: Tracy
The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #2
Also in this series: The Blacksmith Queen, The Blacksmith Queen
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: November 24, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . .

Gemma Smythe is a war monk.  She left her Order when she found out that her younger, unhinged sister, Beatrix was going to be named as the next queen.  When both her sister Beatrix and her sister, Keeley, are named as queen the battle begins.

In this story Gemma has found out that her War Monk order is supporting Beatrix, the psychopath.  Gemma heads back to her order to try to sway them to follow Keely instead.  Along with her, she takes Amichai warrior, Quinn as well as her sister, Ainsley who is amazing with a bow and arrow.  Quinn is irreverent and annoying, but he’s tough and knows how fight, which is what Gemma expects to have to do when she gets to her order.

On the way back to the home base Gemma and Quinn run into dwarves, nuns, more monks, virgins, witches, priests and assassins that are all there to help Keeley’s cause.  They discover that they must infiltrate Beatrix’s castle and work together to bring her downfall.

Another great book in the Scarred Earth Saga.  I love that the fight continues between the two queens and that so many different factions are involved on both sides.

The story revolved around Gemma and Quinn and their helping Keeley and fighting the good fight again Beatrix.  This series doesn’t seem to have romance per se, but the couples do end up falling in love, or a version of love. Lol  It’s not everyone’s idea of romantic, but I honestly feel that it’s a good representation of the characters and what would actually happen.

Aiken draws the reader into a world that is fantastical but believable.  Most of the time I can honestly think that this was something that might have happened (except for the fact that I know it’s fantasy!).  The fantasy-based beings and the magic are wonderful, but so is Aiken’s signature snark.  I love that the characters aren’t serious 24/7.  They know the consequences of not winning against Beatrix but it doesn’t stop their personalities from coming through loud and clear and I love that.

The Scarred Earth Saga so far is a good one and if you love fantasy and sarcasm you’ll love the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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