To Kill a Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is a YA fiction, standalone novel.

Lira is a Siren princesses, ruthless, cruel… a prince killer. She holds the hearts of 17 prince’s under her bed; one for each year of her life. Her legend, the prince’s bane, is known both above and below the ocean. Until chance or maybe fate forces her to kill one of her own and for punishment her mother, the Sea Queen, turns Lira into a human. Now she must capture the heart of one of the richest Princes in the world.

Prince Elian is not your usual prince. He is a Siren killer. He feels more at home on the sea, captain of his ship, hunting monsters than he does holding court or dancing at balls. He is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world and with that comes certain responsibilities… responsibilities he shirks as often as he can.

Now Elian is on a quest to rid the world of Siren’s forever. When he saves a young woman from the middle of the ocean, she promises to help him with his task. But her secrets may cost him everything.

Will Lira capture the heart of her prince and reclaim her place beside her deadly mother? Or will Elian succeed in his quest to rid the world of monsters once and for all?

It is refreshing to read a standalone novel once in awhile. Nice not to have to wait for sequels and get one full story in one book. And To Kill a Kingdom did that. Sometimes with a standalone you feel like the world isn’t fully developed or the author tries to sneak in too much but Christo had a nice balance of world building and storytelling.

I liked this world of Siren’s and Pirates. I actually would have liked to explore Lira’s world a little bit more but it was neat to see this mini world of pirates and the countries that specialize in specific traits–thieves, spies, gold, love, etc. It did give you the feeling of the Little Mermaid without being obvious.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this book was that in the first half, I felt like I was being told how to feel about the characters. Lira is cruel and the most wicked thing in the ocean. Sure she had attitude but it is one thing to say someone is mean and another thing for me to feel that it is true. I needed to see it more here.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Death and Night

Death and Night by Roshani Chokshi is A Star-Touched Novella.

Every great love story has a beginning and this is the story that comes before The Star-Touched Queen. The Lord of Death, aloof and remote, ruled his kingdom with little companionship and for the most part he was content. Until the tapestry of fates showed him what was lacking in his life… a wife. But Death was cursed and doomed to live a loveless life.

Night ushered in the evening and guarded the night-time sky. She was alone and she fit in nowhere; not in the human world or in the world of the immortals. But after a chance meeting with Death, Night wondered if she could be more.

This is the story of when Night met Death.

If you’ve read my review of The Star-Touched Queen, then you will know how much I loved the story of Maya and Amar and their love that spanned lives. Death and Night is the story of how Maya and Amar, Death and Night, met and fell in love. It is full of the same flourishes and magic you find in all of Chokshi’s books. I swear, I have no idea what she is talking about half the time and yet the language just works. I don’t know if the world itself allows for this break from linguistic reason but the language itself instills magic into the work.

This was a quick, cute read. There is no excitement and none of the urgency you get in Chokshi’s other books. But this is a novella. It is meant to be light and airy and just give you more of the stories you love. It felt like a prequel to me and makes me want to go re-read or even listen to the audio book of The Star-Touched Queen.

This one gets a high 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Bookshop of Yesterdays

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson is an adult fiction novel.

It has been sixteen years since Miranda Brooks last saw or heard from her Uncle Billy. When she was twelve years old, he disappeared from her life and at first this was very hard for her but as time went by, she he’s eccentricity became nothing but a fond memory–that is until she receives a mysterious package and news of Billy’s death.

Now Miranda finds herself the owner of Prospero Books, her uncle’s failing bookstore that was her favorite place in the world as a kid. Not only has Billy left her Prospero books but he also left her one last scavenger hunt. And it is a hunt to beat all scavenger hunts because with each clue Miranda will learn about the falling out Billy and her mother had sixteen years earlier, as well as parts of her own family history she never thought to question before.

Through Prospero Books, her uncle’s clues and the people she meets along the way, Miranda will embark on a journey of self discovery that could change her world forever.

Goodness! It is hard to write Miranda when your name is actually Maranda with an “a.” Anyway, I obviously had to pick up this one because of the title. Publishers know this… any book with the words “book,” or “library” in the title will sell to book lovers. I literally can’t pass up a book about books.

That being said, there was a lot about this book that I liked. Miranda’s quest to find out about her past, her uncle’s riddles and games, the bookstore itself, all bits and pieces that were totally up my ally. However, I found this book terribly predictable. Almost from the first chapter, I knew where we were heading and the one misdirection thrown in to make us think we were wrong, didn’t really do anything for me.

I couldn’t believe the little bubble of a world Miranda lived in. A world where she didn’t know herself, let alone her family history, to that extent seemed just a smidgen unrealistic to me. I know we are all oblivious about certain things but we are also a curious species sooo yea.

This would make a good weekend read or a good audio book for a car trip. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Eternal Life

Eternal Life by Dara Horn is an adult fiction novel.

Imagine a world where you couldn’t die? Generation after generation you are reborn and doomed to be eighteen forever. For Rachel and Elazar this is their reality. Doomed to live forever after making a vow to give up their death for another, they must now live with the consequences.

Today, Rachel is a widow with grandchildren who have children. Her business is failing and one of her sons is floundering. This is only the beginning of the troubles plaguing her in this life and she is tired… just so tired. Rachel has tried everything to end her life over the past 2,000 years and nothing has worked.

Filled with guilt and regret in an era where technology is increasing her chances of being discovered, Rachel must find a way out and for good this time. Can she do it? And will the faces and memories from her past get in her way?

I can totally see a ton of people liking this book. I liked it. Did it enthrall me until the bitter end? Mehhh. This is going to be a really hard review to write because I did like it a lot and there wasn’t anything I didn’t like but it just wasn’t one that left an impression with me. I could definitely see myself accidentally pulling it from the shelf a few years from now and vaguely remembering that I read it but having no recollection of what it is actually about.

I think if I had read this one for a book club or with more intention then a pleasure read, I would have gotten a lot out of it. Instead I sort of rushed through it because my loan was expiring–I finished with two hours to spare!

One of the things I did like about Eternal Life was how complex Rachel and Elazar’s relationship was. There were these layers to their lives that only revealed themselves as we delve deeper into Rachel’s memories. I’d actually would have liked to a chapter or two from Elazar’s perspective just to get into his head a bit.

There was nothing wrong with this book, it just wasn’t really for me. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Smoke in the Sun

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh is the sequel to Flame in the Mist.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Okami has been captured and Mariko allows herself to be “rescued,” tricking her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held hostage by the Black Clan. Now Mariko is playing the part of obedient fiancee and meek woman, all the while seeking to free Okami and bring down the vicious new emperor.

But the inner workings of the court leave Mariko little time to plot and plan, so she begins to look for allies from within. Meanwhile the Black Clan has been busy; recruiting and building their numbers. No longer are they the small force hidden within the Jukai forest. The flames of unrest are heating up and a mysterious plague leave many deranged or dead.

Can Mariko save the man she loves? Can she ever be free from the chains her sex ties her to? Will there ever be peace?

You know a book has it’s problems when your summary of it barely makes any sense! Guys… I don’t like to bash books. I don’t. But this one has some serious flaws. The first book was amazing! There was depth, the world building was great, the characters were diverse and dynamic and, mainly I just wanted to keep reading. Where this one started out slow, then finally picked up and gave me all sorts of breadcrumbs I wanted to explore and then it just ended in a rush, with very sloppily tied up ends. Where were my breadcrumbs! It was like the author either wasn’t invested in this one or she had plans for a third book but decided to nix it.

This really should have been three books. We were given such wonderful hints into our side characters lives–hints that felt very much like promises of whats to come–and they are just ignored. What about Yumi? We get whole chapters from her perspective about how she will not be left behind by her brother and yet all we see is her bolting away on a horse with a disparaging look from her brother. What about Tsukai (sp?) and Okami and the insight we get into Tsukai’s feelings and Hiakru (sp?) and the hints we get there! I mean really there was so much beneath the surface here that was never explored. And this isn’t just me wishing there were more to the book. NO. I felt like I was being promised things that were not delivered.

I also felt like Mariko got a little lost. Yes, we are told she is stronger for what she went through in the forest and we see it but she really didn’t impress me like she did in the first book.

Sigh. I had such high hopes for this one and unfortunately it only gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Legendary

Legendary by Stephanie Garber is the second book in the Caraval series.

At the end of Caraval, Tella took a leap of faith and died so that her sister, Scarlett, could win the game and free them from their abusive father. Now it is Tella’s turn to play.

Celebrating the Empress, Caraval is happening again and this time Tella will play the game for her mother’s freedom. After making a terrible bargain with an unsavory character, Tella must win Caraval and divulge the creator of Caraval, Legend’s, real name. And so she is thrown into a world of secrets and betrayals, love and loveless stories, magic and horror and a world where reality may be anything but real.

But this time… Caraval is more than just a game and for Tella, winning could cost her everything but win or lose, the game must be played.

This is a prime example of a series that doesn’t do it for me as a book, but is one I actually really enjoyed in audio. I wasn’t even going to read this one because Scarlett killed me at the end of the book… and improve much in this one but it was available at my library and I needed something else to listen to. And I really, really liked it.

I mentioned Scarlett… she was such a force in the first book but ended timid and run down by the game. Well guess who is still fragile in this one? Scarlett. But this was Tella’s story and Scarlett was only at it’s fringes. We get hints that she may have found her backbone again toward the end but I really hope the third book will be told from both Tella’s and Scarlett’s perspectives because I’d love to get that strong, adaptable sister back.

For me, Legendary was a bit more predictable than Caraval. Caraval surprised me and I was taken down several different paths, whereas in this one, I could see where things were going even if I wasn’t a 100% sure how we would get there. Which is why this one gets bumped down half a star for me.

I can’t wait to see where this world is going and what costs our cast of characters still have to pay. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Reaper at the Gates

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir is the third book in An Ember in the Ashes. In this one we pick up a few months after A Torch Against the Night.

The Empire is in danger and the Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, must face political strife, poison, a deranged emperor, an evil entity and threats from literally all sides. While attempting to hold back the darkness, Helene must also protect her last living family member, her sister, and this may just be the hardest task of all.

Across the Empire, Laia of Serra, will stop at nothing to take down the Nightbringer. While Laia and her brother search for ways to stop the Nightbringer, they find themselves pulled into the Scholar Rebellion and Laia is torn between helping her people and saving… the world.

And in the forest between the living and the dead is Elias, a Soul Catcher in training, who is reluctant to let go of his worldly ties and embrace his duty. But with the world of the living and the dead in the balance, does he even have a choice?

But each of our protagonists have a part to play in the greater war looming nearer with each page. Will Helene, Laia and Elias be able to keep the darkness at bay or will their actions push them closer to the brink?

Man, it felt like we were waiting for this book forever! But the wait was definitely worth it. I love how Helene, Laia and Elias’ stories are so different, with them each facing different difficulties, but that they are also tied so closely together that the actions of one affect them all. There was a real delicate balance here.

I also loved how this book ended with strong female characters uniting in ways I cannot wait to witness in the next book. The strength we find at the end, almost makes me forget that we now have to wait at least a year for the next one… almost.

My only semi-negative critique would be the relationship interactions between a few of the characters. Budding romances, unrequited love, hesitation, lust, etc. these are all staples of YA romance and a few of the interactions felt a little forced. Not all, but a few of these romantic interludes felt almost rushed or, like, I wasn’t ready for them yet. I needed more build up.

I’ve been listening to this series in audio and I’ve got to say, it is so well done. Fiona Hardingham, Katherine McEwann, Maxwell Cualfield and Steve West — literally all the best readers were part of this one.

I really enjoyed this one. It get’s 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-