Review: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Publishing 9/18/18
Length:   290 Page
Series:  Warcross #2

Overview

Overview

Wildcard (Warcross Series #2) by Marie Lu

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

Return to the immersive, action-packed world of Warcross in this thrilling sequel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Marie Lu

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

My Thoughts

OH MY GOODNESS.  that’s literally all i can say after reading this finale to the story.  I’ve always loved how Ms Lu has this ability to twist a story in so many unexpected directions, and this 2nd book of the Warcross saga does not disappoint.  It’s intense, it’s heated, you learn so many things that are completely unexpected and you want to hope for a happy ending.  yet you knwo that there’s no way that it can happen.

As you will recall, we were left at the point in the story when Em’s life was completely turned upside down just as everyone else in the worlds was too – once the new lenses that were shipped around the world for the NeuroLink synced everyone to Hideo’s system.  He used Em’s desire to make the world better and to be a good bounty hunter against her, and she played right into his hands.

Much of the world is now under the control of the link.  they are forced to be honest, forced out of crime, forced out of anything negative all because Hideo needs to find out what happened to his brother all those years ago.

She’s so good at what she does though that she gets sucked into the world and life that Zero had created, partially because of curiosity sure, but partially because she was forced.  He sent protection after her and that then turned into Em being forced into an organization known as the Blackcoats.  The group that it seems Zero is leading.  It’s also when Em makes the connection that Zero and Sasuke (Hideo’s brother) are one and the same, and then the story gets even more complicated.

All of this kick starts a roller coaster of a story.  Zero and the Blackcoats are not at all what they seem, and the girl who’s been protecting EM, a girl named Jax must have more of a conscience than the others because she reveals the back story, the history and the future goals of the organization, probably because she knows more than anyone what this life can do to someone.  She also reveals some secrets that completely blow our minds.

Whatever you thought was real, it’s not.  Whatever you hoped was going to be the outcome – it’s not.  Those that you wanted to see together?  impossible.  so from that point on, mind blown.

What’s so nice about the way that our author writes the story though is that the same folks who were pivotal to the first book are absolutely part of this story.  There’s no way that we would have made any progress, shaped the future without the Phoenix Riders, and they are as much a part of Ems life as they are ours.  we get to see parts of their stories as well which not only makes us love them more, but makes us get them and understand the bond that they share together.

The other challenge here is that all you want as a reader is a way to humanize the bad guys in a story.  Zero, Hideo to name a few but also the Blackcoats, Henka..the list goes on.  Ms Lu somehow manages it, and gives us such unique paths for each, in such a creatively drawn, illustrative and colorful world.  I”m in awe of what i’ve read.

We’re given closure here in this 2nd book – we see how outcomes took shape along with the implications of the world around them with these changes.  it’s powerful and emotional and enjoyable all the same.  You really do have to check out this story, and read book 1 first if you haven’t because i can say for sure that this is one of my favorite books read to date and you all know that i’ve read a LOT.  ENJOY!

Review: Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns) by Kendare Blake

Title: Two Dark Reigns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins 9/4/18
Length:   329 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #3

Overview

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

My Thoughts

This story has truly taken us on a crazy journey and it’s one that’s not even close to being complete or clear.  We all knew that there was no good that could come out of Katherine being Queen, but the other sisters knew that they couldn’t not stay and they were not about to let themselves be killed for a history that they don’t believe anymore.

The third installment of the series brings us to a point in time where everything that everyone believed to be necessary wasn’t the case, that there are parts to their history that have been misrepresented, and as a result, the future for the queens is all a mess.

Katherine unfortunately has the position of being Queen at a time where she’s known to be the Undead Queen, and one who has little control over the people.  She tried replacing some folks on the Black Council in the hopes of looking stronger, making the right alliances and getting people to respect her.  Sadly for her, the dead queens inside her have a different plan, and we see how that really starts to play out throughout this story.

Then there are the other sisters, Mira and Arsinoe.  They fled with Billy to the mainland and somehow made it through the mist.  They’re trying to live life as they want, but i think that we can all agree that it would be far too easy.  Mira adapts a bit better since she’s always been one to play by the rules, but even she begins to see the shine come off of life there.  She’s not able to use her powers and that’s something that is hard for her since changing the weather was always something that calmed her.

Arsinoe on the other hand is a woman who will never conform and that just piles on the problems.  She wants to be with Billy and he with her, yet his family is not having it.  Arsinoe won’t wear dresses and she’s not of the right lineage so they continue to be pulled apart.  she feels like she has no purpose until she starts to be visited by a queen in her dreams.  What the message is though – no one truly knows.

What we do know is that it takes us back to the island, where we don’t just find Katherine trying to maintain the crown, but we find Jules, who is now dubbed the Legion Queen becoming the leader of the Rebellion.  There are pockets of people on the island who are with the rebellion and believe that Jules is the rightful leader.  The question from me of course is why is Jules so powerful?  is she perhaps a Blue Queen herself or is she perhaps of a unique parentage?

I had assumed that this story was a trilogy and when we were about 75% through, i wondered how our author Kendare Blake would wrap it all up.  Only to learn that nope – there’s more.  Anything that you thought was going to happen, did and perhaps did not, and we are left on a cliff.

Peityr wants to get the dead queens out of Katherine, but will that happen and if it does, what of Katherine will remain?  he takes the information from Madrigal, Jules’ mother to understand what Low Magic to use to get them out, but i think that there’s catastrophe looming.

Mira and Arsinoe seemed so close throughout this installment, but i’m forced to wonder if that’s sustainable now that they seem to have such different motivations.  Arsinoe is also hiding some key information that she’s learned from her visions and dreams and knowing that there is no good outcome from what she knows, i think we’re gearing up for something horrible

Jules seems to have lost her mind and it’s unclear if anyone will be able to help her gain control.  without a figurehead, will the Rebellion survive and overthrow?

so many questions and so few answers.  i can’t wait to see where the next book takes us since there will certainly be few happy endings and a lot more death and despair.  Enjoy!

Review: Allied (Ruined #3) by Amy Tintera

Title: Allied
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollings 5/1/18
Length:   416 Pages
Series:  Ruined #3

Overview

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces.

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead.

The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.

My Thoughts

Such a great bit of closure to this story – one that i forgot about if i’m honest because i read the first 2 in quick succession and then had to wait for the third to come out.  Looking back, it’s been about a year – and should have honestly been shorter had i not had baby brain and realized that the final book came out back in May.  anyway – it is what it is.

So here we are, at the finale of the series – really wondering who was going to end up where, what friendships and romances would stay intact, if families could remain true.  Which kingdoms would come out on top and above all else, if good would overpower evil.

Em has too much pressure on her shoulders.  Ever since she took on the role of pretending to be the Vallos princess in book 1 to get into Lera and marry Cas – we saw that she was meant for greatness and that it would also mean that she would have to sacrifice a lot.  she lost a best friend back at the beginning, and found herself in a world where she was feared, yet had no power to back it up, cherished but uncertain that she was cherished for the right reasons and so ambitious to make the world a better place.

In this third installment, Em is with the rest of the Ruined, including Olivia as they plan a way to overpower Olso, stave off that attack, find a way to truly get peace with Lera through the help of Cas, and then figure out how to potentially find a way for the Ruined to have some type of life.  Olivia of course makes things impossible since she’s got a huge chip on her shoulder.  She was locked up for so long and yet no matter that Em got her out, she’s still looking for blood.  Em can’t even control her and we see throughout this story that even those who were on her side begin to question if there’s even any point to going her route.

Em and Aren continue to try to pacify her while building peace, and i think that had it not been for Aren, we would have seen Em crack.  Thankfully he’s the most powerful Ruined ever and that means that people stand on her side because of trust.  In this story too though we get to see more of Aren evolve.  We knew that he was a great and solid friend to Em, but we see a side of him where love comes into play – Iria is who he wants yet she’s taken back to Olso, thrown in jail and potentially left to be killed.  Seeing the side of Aren where he will go against his best friend to go save Iria, well it shows a softer side.  Add on top of that the friendship that starts to bud with Galo, Cas’s head of the guards, and you have to wonder if the world has flipped upside down.

The nice thing about this third book is that it’s not all about battle scenes,we get to see depth and engagement between the characters.  there are so many supporting story lines with Galo/Matteo, Aren/Iria ,Cas/Em Em/Olivia, August and everyone.  There’s a new generation trying to make the world into something different and while everyone is inexperienced in how to gain and hold power, we can see the best of intentions.

Of course though, we know that it all comes down to a huge battle, where characters that we’ve spent time with throughout all the books are shot at, killed, potentially changed forever and seeing how quickly the end pulls up once we get to the final chapters brings us to a conclusion like a bullet.

I think that we got all the resolution that we needed.  The smart thing here that our author did is that she didn’t give us a happy happy ending with everything all resolved.  We never find out a few answers on things, both for the main characters or the secondary folks.  Without spoiling things too – we never find out why Em is useless and if she really is useless.  part of me was really hoping that there was some trick like how Aren’s power worked that we would learn.  but i guess it’s not meant to be here.  oh well – but on that note – hopefully you guys take a read through this and enjoy!

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J Maas

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher/Year:  Bloomsbury 5/1/18
Length:   215 Pages
Series:  A Court of Thorns and Roses

Overview

Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series.

New in the #1 New York Times bestselling Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Frost and Starlight is a glimpse into the lives of Feyre and Rhys as they begin to recover from the war that changed their world.

Feyre, Rhysand, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated — scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

My Thoughts

i LOVE this series and i’m so glad that while it’s short, we get another installment to the series.  Where we left off with all these characters – the war had ended, and Elain and Nesta were ‘MADE’ and kingdoms are shattered and lives were lost.  It’s a troubled time, yet we know that this group of family/friends will do whatever they can to get back to normal life and make sure that they are with the ones that matter most.  the Winter Solstice is the perfect time for them to come together and enjoy each other’s company.

Of course, it’s easier said than done when Elain is still in her shell and wants nothing to do with Az who is her mate.  And Nesta wants nothing to do with anyone, including her mate Cassian.  So we get to see how that all starts to affect the larger group.  Rhys and Feyre have found that their love is stronger and runs deeper than ever and that’s the thread that carries the gist of the story.

So i consider this to be a novella – i guess it’s kind of noted as it’s a #.1 but it’s a bit longer than a traditional novella.  Each chapter is based on a different characters story at the time in things, and we get to see how the results of the war shape what their path is.  Amren now as a human, Mor trying to get past the fear that she has of looking weak, the men who are both macho and who want to make things right with their soulmates.

On top of that lighter part of the story, we have the undertone of what’s going on in the bigger picture of the world now after the war, and what i assume will be the main factor of the next installment.  There’s unrest among the people, there’s fear and hatred that so many died and there’s no longer a divide between the human and fae worlds, so we know that there’s bound to be issue and catastrophe there as well.  Tamlin is a shell of a man now and his land is the one that borders the human world, yet he won’t accept help from Rhys since there’s too much pain and hatred tied to Feyre.

Anyhow-  while this is a lighter more surface installment, it’s a good lead into what’s to come and i know that it’ll be great since the other installments were AMAZING.  The pre-read chapter in the end of the next book really shows us that Nesta is going to take a main role – her journey into the cauldron was something that even it did not expect, and she’s taken from it and will hopefully use those powers to help Rhys and Feyre and their allies v. against them.  we’ll have to wait and see i guess.  On that note – enjoy your day all!

Review: The Complication (The Program #6) by Suzanne Young

Title: The Complication
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher/Year:  Simon Pulse 4/24/18
Length:   324 Pages
Series:  The Program #6

Overview

Every cure has a cost.

Tatum Masterson learned this after years of being monitored by The Program. She witnessed it when her boyfriend, Wes, came back changed, erased. And now, even the newest “cure” has a heavy cost—one she and Wes paid.

The Adjustment came into Tatum’s life just when she thought she needed it most, a promise for Wes to get back his forgotten memories. But when the procedure went wrong, a revelation shattered everything Tatum thought she knew.

Now, with no one left to trust, Tatum must find out what really happened last summer. And with the help of the boyfriend she lost, Tatum will have to dig into the past and future of The Program and its handlers.

And discover the true cost of a cure.

My Thoughts

I”ve been on the journey with this series for quite a long time and seeing how our author Ms Young is able to weave the stories of the different couples at the varying stages in the program, while also making sure to continue the thread throughout that keeps them all continuous, constant, and concurrent is impressive.  We’ve seen so much pain and heart ache, so much trickery and lying, and some of our favorite characters will forever be on the run so that they can have their happy endings.  So it’s time to see not only how things end up for Tatum and Wes now that a huge bomb has been dropped on Tatum’s reality, but we also get to see how things continue and potentially end for The Program, for Realm and for a few others.

I think that it’s hard sometimes to get a good YA series that isn’t only on the surface a lot of the time.  That goes a bit deeper for several relationships and story lines, as well as gives us the romance, the aspiration that you know is needed in the genre.  We get that here.

Tatum’s world was blown up when she learned at the end of The Adjustment that her life isn’t at all what she thought.  that she went through The Program.  She now has absolutely no idea what’s real, what’s been taken and what’s been implanted and who’s been lying to her, her entire life.  It’s a crazy roller coaster story that we get here coming to terms with everything.  When we fear that handlers are all around them, i have to admit that i guessed who a few were.   When we worry that some of the authority figures and family members are on the right or wrong side, more often than not, i’m wrong.

The constant though which we saw in the other installments is that while the program was able to erase memories, it’s often unsuccessful in erasing what the heart feels and believes, and we see over and over again that the romances, the loves between these couples really continues to come through.

Throughout this installment, we’re taken back to Dr Warren who is Tatum’s therapist and who we learn has her own motives.  We are back at the Adjustment office and what we see and learn there turns the world upside down.  We’re introduced to new ‘legitimate’ folks who really do play a key role as the story comes to a finale.  We see lives ruined and lives brought back together.  The biggest question of all, is the Program dead once and for all?  i know that we believed that it was before, but i don’t know that we’ll ever learn the truth there.

I’m kind of sad to think that perhaps this is the last installment because of the events that happened at the end, i’ve been really engaged with all characters here.  Realm while cocky really intrigued me.  Sloane/James, Tatum/Wes, Realm/Dallas, Nicole/deacon….there are so many story lines that we got to follow and enjoy that now without them it’ll be sad.  Oh well – that’s the life of a reader right?  on that note, i hope you all enjoy the rest of your day!

Review: Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tehereh Mafi

Title: Restore Me
Author: Tehereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 3/6/18
Length:   255 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #4

Overview

The girl with the power to kill with a single touch now has the world in the palm of her hand.

Juliette and Warner’s story continues in the electrifying fourth installment of Tahereh Mafi’s New York Timesbestselling Shatter Me series.

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander of North America, and now has Warner by her side. But when tragedy strikes, she must confront the darkness that dwells both around and inside her.

Who will she become in the face of adversity? Will she be able to control the power she wields, and use it for good?

My Thoughts

To be honest, i didn’t think that there would be a book 4, and i had a hard time remembering where we had left off in book 3, but i’m glad that i stuck it out for those first few chapters.  What we have here is an interesting continuation of the story that had a potential pause with Juliette taking over North America, and now we’ve restarted it all.

This next installment takes us to a point in time where Juliette is overwhelmed, still reliant on Kenji to be her best friend and source of guidance, and still madly in love with Warner.  the challenge there though is that Warner is in a tough head space in this book, and we see that life gets in the way of love – so you really don’t have a true sense of where these two are going to net out.  They can’t ever seem to catch a break now can they?

The journey in this book is one where the other supreme commanders are now ultra curious about who Juliette is and what she’s done and will do – so they send their children to the sector to uncover secrets.  We meet a few interesting people who we aren’t yet sure we’re able to trust, and along with them, a LOT of secrets are revealed.

We learn that Juliette isn’t at all what she seemed and what she thought she was, and sadly it was Warner who was guided to learn the truth (Castle is the bearer of information it seems) and as a result, he’s put in a position where telling Juliette what he knows means that he may lose her.

Her past is definitely not what we were led to believe, and how she got to the asylum and what her role is in life now are coming to the forefront of this story.  We are left with more questions than answers for sure, and the twist at the end makes us really wonder if anything that we knew from the first 3 books was real.

We meed Haider and Nazeera in this book – the children of the supreme commander of Asia, and they play an interesting role.  We’re never quite sure what to make of them, they aren’t really honest with their words or actions, but what comes out as they interact more and more with Juliette and Warner, it is a huge shock and potentially story changing.

When Juliette’s life is put in danger not once but twice in this story, we start to see who really is on what side, and question what we know even more.  The set up for book 5 really is nicely done, leaving us on a cliff that makes you really wonder what’s going to happen and what does that means for life as everyone knows it.

There’s one other aspect to this story that we only really saw in the later installments of the first few books.  The romance between Warner and Juliette started slow, and now is hot and intense for a YA book.  You can see how they are teenagers but they feel for each other in a much more mature sense, and the way that their love and passion comes through is genuine, and yet fairly appropriate for the nature of the book.

Anyhow – i can’t wait now for book 5, and i hope that you guys catch up on this series.

Review: Iron Gold ( Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

Title: Iron Gold
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher/Year:  Random House Publishing 1/16/18
Length:   617 Pages
Series:  Red Rising #4

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In the epic next chapter of the Red Rising Saga, the #1 bestselling author of Morning Star pushes the boundaries of one of the boldest series in fiction.

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.

A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe. Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

My Thoughts 

I was the biggest fan of the original Trilogy – i couldn’t get enough of the tales of Darrow and the Howlers, the twist with Virginia and the life that they all lived once being selected for training and then trying to save civilization from  a war that no one really knew who was behind it nor the breadth or depth of it.

So when we learned that Mr Brown, our author wrote a 4th book for the story – 10+ years in the future, i was beyond excited.  I couldnt wait to see what the story would be now that we would get to see who’s still alive, what alliances are in place, and who would be fighting for which side.  What we get is that, but we also get a really weird story with so many new characters that i’m not sure that we ever learn how they are intertwined.  I”m confused.  that’s about all i can say.

We all know that it never takes me this long to read a book, even one that’s 600+ pages, so that should give you a sense of what i think.  i’m on the fence.  We come back into a world where Darrow is the still the Reaper, respected  by some, hated by many.  We see that his wife  Virginia has assumed the position of Sovereign which should be a good thing since we saw a lot of maturation from her in the original series.  But being married to Darrow puts her in a rough position where she’s either destined to be doomed, or destined to  be revered or a bit of both. then there’s Sevro and Victra in the mix as well as many others, so we are grounded in the familiar and introduced to the new.

we are given a series of alternating chapters here, many new characters that are of an age where they were too young to truly know what was going on during the other war, but have strong opinions now that they have grown up in what the world has become.

We have Ephraim and Volga who are mains in a sense, they drive the progress of one of the story lines – Ephraim being an art broker by trade, but a thief for all intents and purposes.  and where his story takes us is on a path first to earn a lot of money, and then being recruited  by the Syndicate to steal back something very  valuable, which turns out to be someone(s).  Volga is his ‘friend’ – a term i use looslely since Ephraim is a tough friend to have, yet as an Obsidian, she ties herself tight to those that she’s close to, and it proves to be a good and bad thing for him.

The other story line that we focus a lot on is that of Lysander, the grandson of Aja, the prior Sovereign who was murdered and Cassius – one of the most important mains of the first 3 books.  They are comarades of sorts but not quite friends.  They have a bond that we can only hope ultimately takes them to fight for the proper side, but in this series it’s impossible to know what’s good or not .

So you can see, there’s a bit of historical and heritage in the series that keeps us familiar with what we read all those years ago, but there’s so much new, so much that’s not truly grounded to give us a sound foundation that takes the story on a new and confusing path.

I’m still scratching my head here, but i’m glad that i read it and we all know that i’m going to read the next installment whenever it comes out because i don’t let books beat me, and i have faith that we’ll get closure to this series that’s deserved.  so enjoy – and let me know what you all think.  i wonder if you guys think differently than i do.

Review: The Young Queens (Three Dark Crowns #0.2) by Kedare Blake

Title: The Young Queens
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 12/26/17
Length:   89 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #0.2

Overview

In this must-read prequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, the queens’ origin story is revealed. It’s a pre-crown lowdown of Fennbirn’s ruling class.

Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine weren’t always scheming to murder each other. They weren’t always surrounded by rival foster families, each swearing to have their best interests at heart. And they weren’t always afraid of being unexpectedly attacked—by one of their own sisters, no less—in a way that could cost them their last breath.

They used to be together. Just three sisters. Alone in a glen.

This is the story of the three queens—after they were born, before they were separated, during the time when they all lived together, loved each other, and protected each other. It’s also the story of the day they were torn apart, and the several years that follow.

From birth to eleven years old, this is a rare glimpse of the queens’ lives…before they were at stake.

My Thoughts

In this series we were first intoduced to the queens just as they were coming of age, each trying to live up to the legacy that is bestowed upon the triplet queens, so that one – the one that was the strongest could take power from the rest.  We knew that there were 2 that were not quite able, and yet we never really saw how they grew up and came to be.

In this prequel of sorts, we get to see how they were as young girls, before they were separated and taken to their own host cities to learn their skills (or not) and truly learn to hate (and forget) one another.

The way that this novella is written, we get glimpses into the lives of these girls when they were still at the cottage up until they turned 6.  we saw who was the protector, and who was the caring one.  We saw how hard it was for them to get taken from one another, and yet no one really cared since it’s what’s done.

From there, we get to see how their lives truly progressed over the years in each of their new homes, and it’s really interesting to see some of the side stories as they happened too.  We got to see how Mirabella was feared because of her power, and as a result, she was locked up for a bit.

Then there’s katherine, the poisoner who’s not quite a poisoner, and how she takes all the torture that she’s gone through because that’s what’s expected of her.  makes you less surprised when you see what’s become of her in the main series.  And don’t forget Arsinoe.  the naturalist who isn’t quite there yet, and we see how she tries to scape and the punishment that gets all of some of the more important supporting characters banished.

All in all, it sets up the backstory for the series in a way that really does help us understand the foundation for how things came to pass, and really makes us a bit less surprised about what has just transpired in the coming installments and what the future holds since there’s still so much left that’s unsettled.  i can’t wait for what’s next since there are bigger and better story lines coming since there are secrets that are coming to life.  on that note – enjoy!

Review: The Kings Guard (Fire & Thorns #0.7) by Rae Carson

Title: The King’s Guard
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 7/30/13
Length:   98 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.7

Overview

Hector of Ventierra is the youngest commander of the Royal Guard in his kingdom’s history. But before he was lord commander, he was a lowly squire. In this short fantasy novella, set in the world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson introduces readers to Hector before he became the man Queen Elisa fell in love with. The King’s Guard also includes a teaser chapter for The Bitter Kingdom, the conclusion to the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

At fifteen years old, Hector is the youngest squire in the most elite military force in the country. And his first day is disastrous. Everyone assumes the only reason he was recruited is his close personal association with King Alejandro, not because he’s really earned it.

But Alejandro needs Hector for a secret mission, one that gives him the chance to prove to everyone—including himself—that he is worthy to be a Royal Guard. Hector must break into the ancient Fortress of Wind to retrieve something so important that the kingdom’s future depends on it. What Hector finds in the fortress will stretch his bond of friendship with his king near to breaking. And it will prepare him to become the fearsome warrior and lord commander Elisa will never let go.

My Thoughts

We’ve come to love and adore Hector through what we’ve seen in the main series that it’s really nice to see how he got his start, and how the friendships between him and his guards really took shape.  There was a bit of a teaser that he started out working for the king and Alejandro in a different capacity but it’s nice to see how that progressed into being leader of the Royal Guard.

What we get here is the point in time where Hector starts as a recruit for the guards – and how everyone knows that he’s probably too young and inexperienced to make the guards, but that he’s been shown favor by the kind and the royals and everyone resents that.

It’s not just the tale of being a recruit, but there’s also the piece of the story that we get when Rausora is pregnant and quite sick with the royal heir.  We know how that all ends up, but there’s actually a twist to the story that we didn’t quite get in the main series and it gives an interesting context to how things actually shaped up (that no one still knows about).

Hector is given a secret task and a chance to prove himself and that’s exactly what he does.  while the current head of the guards tries to muck it up for him, and people are out to murder him, well, we still get to see how he’s able to overcome and his natural ability to be a leader even at 15 is something to be impressed by.  All in all, a nice way to get to know him before Hector was the authority that we’ve come to love.  Enjoy!

Review: The Shattered Mountain (Fire & Thorns #0.6) by Rae Carson

Title: The Shattered Mountain
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 3/26/13
Length:   85 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.6

Overview

A short digital-only novella set in the world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. While Princess Elisa was being forced across the desert by a band of rebel kidnappers, her future handmaiden, Mara, was fighting for survival as enemy sorcerers decimated the countryside. This is Mara’s story.

My Thoughts
Mara has long since been a key character in the entire series and it’s her turn to have a novella – to give us a sense of where her story began and how strong she truly is.  We knew her story before this novella – about how she and a boy named Julio had fallen in love and how she had plans to leave her village to be with him, but of course that all goes awry when the Inviernos come and attack her village.  So this is the story of her escape with a group of children and how they find the rebells, Elisa and get on the road to recovery.
It’s a nice novella since we get to see that Mara is strong in her own right – she’s smart and positive and motivating, yet she’s human and scared and doubts herself at every turn.  She’s got a skillset that proves itself to be incredibly helpful in this story and rolls over into how she aids Elisa throughout the trilogy.
There’s not much more depth to this though – as expected in an 80 page book, but at least you start to see how strong and tough she is which helps her weather what comes for her in the trilogy.  Enjoy!