Two Dark Reigns

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series.

We pick up only a few weeks after the end of One Dark Throne. Katherine is the Queen Crowned. Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding on the mainland with Billy. And Jules is in hiding on the island, dealing with the repercussions of being legion born.

But the island isn’t done with these girls. The mist is rising, causing panic and fear. It has a life of it’s own and it takes whomever it wants. As the undead queen, Katherine’s rule is threatened, not only by the mist but also by a renegade band of rebels who want to end the line of the queens and rule the island as it has never been ruled before.

While Katherine tries to hold on to her thrown, Arsinoe and Miabella try to forge a new life away from the island. But a dark shadow threatens and refuses to allow the past to lie.  Nothing is settled and this story is far from done.

Two Dark Reigns started out pretty slow for me. There was a lot of talk and very little action. It wasn’t until two-thirds of the way through the book that things start to actually happen. Some background was needed in the beginning to build up where the story is ultimately leading to but I just felt that we could have gotten to the point sooner.

Some things happen really slowly in this series, while others go almost too fast. There were pockets of action in this book that could have be dragged out a little more, whereas several discussions could have been chopped down to a page max.

That being said, I do love this world that Blake has built up. And it’s just gotten more interesting with the legion curse and the history being revealed. I am also loving how the mist, the islands protector, seems to be turning on the island itself.

I am excited to see where this last book will take us… who will survive and who will not. Mostly, I want to know what is instore for the island. Will it survive the mist or will this be the end of it altogether?

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Mirage

Mirage by Somaiya Daud is the first book in a new YA science fiction series.

In a section of the galaxy, a brutal race rules with an iron fist. And on a quiet planet in this system is an eighteen-year-old girl named Amani, who loves poetry and dreams of signs from the god Dihya. When Amani is kidnapped by the Vathek, she has no clue that her life is about to change forever.

Amani looks identical to the young princess, Maram, next in-line to inherit the Vathek empire. Because of this, she is forced to become Maram’s body double. She must sound like Maram, walk like Maram, act like Maram or else she will die.

Forced into this new role, Amani finds herself exposed to a world she could never have imagined. But beneath the beauty is fear. Will Amani succeed in impersonating Maram?And will she lose herself to this role? Or will she fight in her own way to maintain her life–her freedom?

This was an entertaining read. Not stellar, but I think we are going to get there. Mirage was pretty average for me until the second half, then we start to see more of the politics and we get that world building that was lacking in the beginning. I can see the sequel doing a lot for the series as a whole.

This was a sci-fi, space odyssey, without feeling like science fiction. That is one of the major props I give this book. It will appeal to a reader even if sci-fi isn’t in their wheelhouse. I loved how you could see elements of futuristic, space-travel, but the world still felt… almost Middle-Eastern in setting. At least that was the impression I got.

One thing I seriously struggled with in this book is the fact that Amani’s family wasn’t brought into it sooner. Not once, does Amani say she fears for the safety of her family–not until the end. All the way up to that point, her driving force for complying with being a body double was her own personal safety. I just found this a little hard to believe. I just didn’t believe that Amani, as a character, would have given in, in the first place, just to protect herself.

This is one that I have high hopes for. Hopefully the sequel will live up to my imaginings. This one get’s 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a new tween science fiction and fantasy series.

Cassidy Blake has never lead a normal life, what with her parents being super success paranormal writers who call themselves: The Inspectres. But her life took a turn for the even weirder when she died. Well… almost died. Ever since this near death experience, Cassidy has been able to actually see ghosts, including her best friend Jacob.

Now her parents have decided to turn their successful novels into a TV show and they are all off to Edinburgh, Scotland–the city of ghosts. What Cassidy finds in Edinburgh will change everything she knows about who she is and what she can do. But there will be danger and the information she learns may just tear her world apart.

I really enjoyed this one. Totally a book that both kids and adults will enjoy. I didn’t even feel like I was reading a tween book but the content was definitely still appropriate for the kids. It wasn’t too scary but it will also keep a reader at the edge of their seat.

Cassidy and Jacob made a good team and yet there is this hint of what’s to come with their relationship. I really look forward to seeing Cassidy developing her abilities and how Schwab is able to do this while The Inspectres move from city to city. It’ll be interesting to get these haunted histories of different historical sites.

A fun quick read for an adult and a little spooky and an exciting read for 10+. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Smoke and Iron

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine is the fourth book in The Great Library series.

In this one we pick up where we left off. Jess is pretending to be his brother Brandon in order to destroy corruption within The Great Library from the inside. Morgan is back in the Iron Tower and attempting to liberate the Obscurist’s from their shackles, while not becoming trapped herself. Wolf is back in prison and the rest of the gang are on a boat, captive or guest, the lines are blurred. But one thing is for sure, no one is safe.

The battle for the Library has begun and what started out as a rebellion to rescue a friend, has now turned into an all out war. But who is fighting who and will the costs outweigh the benefits?

This is an interesting series. There are parts I love and then there are times where I am sitting there thinking, come on, lets go. It’s one, at this point, where I could probably take it or leave it but I ultimately want to know what will happen, so I am sticking with it.

One of my complaints about this series is that is runs in a circle. The gang realizes something or hatches a plan, then they either get caught or have to save someone, they get free, plans go awry and they are “captured” again. Yes, each time is unique and ultimately the story does move forward but for me, this circle needs to be broken.

I did really like that we get Khalila’s point of view in this one. She has a unique perspective. She has hardly any ulterior motives other than her devotion to the library and her hopes for it’s return to the pure entity it was meant to be. Where as Jess and Morgan believe in the library but their actions are also colored by their emotions and their past. There is also a lovely battle scene toward the end that I would love to see on screen if done well.

Ultimately, this was another entertaining read by Rachel Caine and I am ready to see how it will conclude in the final book, hopefully coming out next year. This one gets a solid 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Bright We Burn

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White is the third and final book in The Conqueror’s series.

Lada’s unwillingness to bend and her extreme justice has created a free Wallachia. Her brutal brand of retribution for all wrong doings has created a land that is free of crime, free from the boyars who starved and mistreated their people, and free from paying tribute in boys and blood. But can a country freed in blood and violence, stay free?

Across the continent, Radu is haunted by the actions and sacrifices he made in Constantinople. Mehmed has called him back to the very place he dreads to be by his side and help him rule. But Radu’s love, his infatuation for Mehmed has begun to wane and he doesn’t know how much longer he can live without really living.

Mehmed, sultan, emperor, and a long list of other titles, has everything he ever wanted, except for Lada. He knows that she belongs with him and Radu and he is willing to destroyer her to keep her. But is he underestimating the vicious, indomitable girl he grew up with?

A story that begun in Wallachia will end in Wallachia but who will be standing as the last page turns?

What a series. It was dark and bloody and honest and true. There was a little bit of everything. That being said, this was probably my least favorite of the three books and yet as a conclusion it was satisfying.

For me, Lada makes this series. Her violent, dark, not quite a hero, persona really worked for me. Which is why I think the final book fell short for me. In the first two books their was just enough emotion and feels to make her a person, but just barely. In this third one, Lada still puts Wallachia over all else but you can tell how much of a toll it takes on her and that just wasn’t the Lada I was expecting. Radu, on the other hand, really grew throughout this series and I was really happy with his transformation.

Now, I will admit, I don’t know much about the history of this time period to say whether or not this is a true retelling of Vlad as a woman. BUT, I want to know more and that is what makes this book great. I guarantee people at least Google Vlad and Constantinople after reading this series.

This is one series that definitely makes it to my bookshelf. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Strange The Dreamer

Stranger The Dreamer by Laini Taylor is the first book in a young adult fantasy series.

Lazlo Strange has dreamed of finding the forgotten city of Weep since he was a five-year-old orphan with no name and no history. As a man and a bookish librarian, Lazlo is still a dreamer and he fears that he will only ever fantasize about his dream, never chase it. That is, until Lazlo is faced with a chance of a lifetime that could put him within reach of his dreams.

What happened to Weep centuries ago that all-but wiped it from the history books? What could a man named the God Slayer possible need from a people he never knew existed? And how on earth does a city lose it’s name?

Boy am I late to the party on this one! I came across some promotional material for the sequel to this series and when I went to read the synopsis, I realized I had to get my hands on the first one. And this book didn’t disappoint.

It’s always refreshing to find a new fantasy series with a truly unique theme. From the very beginning when five-year-old Lazlo is fighting imaginary warriors and loses Weeps true name, I was hooked. There was just enough world building to help contribute to the mystery of the story but not too much to give everything away.

Looking back, one of the things that struck me about this book was how the language shifted when we were in Lazlo’s dreams/stories/imaginings. The language seamlessly goes from descriptive (maybe even wordy) narrative to this flowy prose that just fits with these impossibly vivid dreams. It was lovely.

These lovely, impossible dreams were also a nice balance to the truly awful things surrounding the city of Weep. Some of the plot points of this story are really horrible but the way Laini Taylor sprinkles the magic and keeps the “terrible” on the fringes, creates a good balance.

I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait until the sequel comes out in October. This one gets 4-4.5 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-