Tag: Fantasy

Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted June 29, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Tracy
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #2
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: February 27, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 10 hours and 13 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Lara has only one thought when her husband is taken prisoner: I will do whatever it takes to set you free.

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father's clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared.

But as Lara and her companions formulate a plan to free Aren from her father's palace, they soon discover that while it is easy to get in, it will be quite another thing to get Aren, and themselves, back out. Not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she's trying to free - the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who - and what - she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or for herself.

The Traitor Queen is the second book in The Bridge Kingdom series.

Where do you go and what do you do when you’ve unintentionally destroyed a kingdom and your husband has captured? The people you’ve come to love with your whole heart have now turned against you and you want nothing more than to help them make things right again.

Lara is in this situation and is running into stone walls when it comes to getting help from the Ithicanians who now hate her.  Where does she turn?  To her sisters who were all trained to be just as good as she at fighting for what they believe in.

I truly can’t tell you anything about this book without giving SO much away. The story has an incredible amount of action and goes non-stop from one event to the other.  I was listening to this story and never once wanted to hit pause while listening.  I can’t remember the last time that happened, if ever.

Lara and Aren’s story continues in The Traitor Queen but it’s not an easy one. The Ithicanian fight with the Maridrinians, as well as the possible resolution between Lara and Aren, had me on the edge of my seat for the entire book.  Throughout it all I couldn’t see how things would resolve but the author did a great job of it.  I would have liked just a bit more at the end of the book with the Ithicanians and Lara, but hopefully the author will put out a 2.5 novella for us (hint, hint Ms. Jensen).

The author has built a world that I kind of want to live in.  Seriously.  Sounds silly, but when you read the book, you’ll understand.  Though the main focus is on Lara and Aren, she didn’t limit us in just knowing them.  I felt she described the world so well, and made all of the characters so real to me, that I just want to go there. Lol

If you want to read a story with action, adventure, revenge, fury, resentment, romance and love then this is definitely the book you’ll want to read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

five-stars


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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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Guest Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted May 26, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Tracy
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Context Literary Agency, Audible Original
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 354
Length: 11 hours and 52 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
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?

Lara and her sisters are princesses who are deadly.  Their father is the King of Maridrina and has isolated his many daughters since they were five years old.  He has had tutors and trainers at their desert compound teaching them to be assassins, seductresses, poison experts; you name it, they were taught. They’ve been tortured and they have murdered. Why? Because Maridrina has a treaty with the Bridge Kingdom of Ithicana. The two kingdoms have had peace for 15 years but at the end of that term (which is now) one of the princesses would travel to Ithicana to become the queen.  King Silas of Maridrina plans on sending one of his daughters to spy on the king of Ithicana and his kingdom and send back information so that Maridrina could take the bridge and destroy Ithicana.  Not only have Lara and her sisters become fighters, they’ve also been told their entire lives that Ithicana is a horrible place, the king is an ass who cares nothing for others, and that Ithicana has such a stranglehold on trade that the Maridrinians are starving.

The daughter that is chosen to be queen of Ithicana is Marylyn. Lara, however, believes that Marylyn is too kind and will be crushed by the cruel Ithicanian king.  Lara takes matters into her own hands to ensure that she will be the one sent to Ithicana. This does happen and she is soon married to the Ithicanian King, Aren.

King Aren has no idea who/what his bride truly is. He believes Lara to be a scared mouse-like woman, even though he finds her beautiful. He secludes her in his house and moves on with his life. Despite Aren’s decision to stay away from his wife, he finds himself drawn to her. He truly wants the marriage to work and believes that with the treaty fulfilled that Ithicana and Maridrina can become allies.

With Aren occupied this gives Lara time to investigate and find secrets – she is constantly spying.  She inadvertently learns secrets of the Bridge and how to infiltrate it.  She learns other secrets about Ithicana as well and plans on sharing it all with her father.  What she didn’t count on was learning that Aren was not a monster, the Ithicanians weren’t cruel, and the reason that the Maridrinians were starving was all her father’s fault.  Lara’s world is turned upside down but Aren is there to catch her when she falls.  They fall hard for each other but despite Lara’s best efforts to keep the information about Ithicana away from her father, he gets the message loud and clear.

I won’t tell anything else because it’s so good to have the story unfold and learn each bit little by little.  I truly never expected to enjoy this book so much.  I started listening to it in audiobook but it was going too slowly for my liking and I ended up reading the second half of it.  When I finished book one I immediately wanted to start book two (even though it was already 11 at night), but it’s not available in ebook until September 2020. Ugh!! (I listened to the second book in audio the next day. :))

This story has so much going for it!  There’s a huge cast of characters that you will fall in love with, and some you will hate.  I loved watching Aren and Lara fall in love – they were so perfect for each other! On top of that there is adventure, deception, forgiveness and war.  It’s so good, I can’t possibly describe it to you.

If you love a good fantasy with great characters then this is a book for you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5  

The Bridge Kingdom

four-half-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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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seduced by Silver by Gwen Campbell

Posted March 26, 2020 by Ames in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seduced by Silver by Gwen CampbellReviewer: Ames
Seduced by Silver by Gwen Campbell
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: February 19, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 102
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

When Meadow accompanies her boyfriend home for a weekend, she expects to try to rekindle their romance. Instead, she meets his father Keefe—mature, sexy and Alpha enough to claim her as his own. And claim her he does. The heat that flares between them quickly turns to something more and their passionate joining leads to a deeper connection. But Meadow’s father is Keefe’s biggest business rival, and Meadow’s a daddy’s girl through and through—and her daddy’s not going to like this.

Reader Advisory: While the world in this book has the traditional werewolf pack structures, social statuses and hot, animalistic sex, the characters aren’t shapeshifters.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on March 7, 2010.

First of all, that cover makes me blush. LOL

Second, I enjoyed Seduced by Silver. The set-up of the Eupanorian world is different enough (humanoid beings with a culture based on wolf pack structure) that it totally makes sense that if someone isn’t Alpha enough for their woman, someone else is. And that it’s Meadow’s boyfriend’s dad? Hey, he’s the Alpha! And she’s an Alpha bitch! LOL

This kind of thing would not work for me in a contemporary or even a historical, but Gwen has created an interesting world and I bought it.

Killian and Meadow have been dating for a while. But after they reach final maturity, something that happens when a Eupanorian reaches their 20s, Meadow realizes that Killian isn’t her equal in the pack social structure. He’s mid-level. And she’s an Alpha. The trip to his childhood home is in an effort to rekindle their romance, a chance for Killian to prove he can handle her. Unfortunately, Killian couldn’t…but his father can. Meadow and Keefe don’t back down from each other and are constantly challenging the other. Perfect chemistry for two Alphas.

But can Killian live with the choice he made? And does Keefe want Meadow for life or for the rest of the trip?

I liked Meadow. She definitely was an Alpha and I loved that she was equal to Keefe. In shifter stories, the Alpha male is so alpha, and the heroine kind of isn’t. LOL So I really liked that these two were equal. And the hot sex doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more conflict, because there really wasn’t any. But for pure escapism with some Alpha-ness, I’d recommend Seduced by Silver for sure. 3.75 out 5

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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