I really enjoyed the way the bear clan drama played out in Alpha's Queen. With both sides of an arranged marriage not that interested in getting married, a clan on the brink of civil war, and a power struggle within the Alpha's family, there is a lot going on. Lila Felix does a great job of tying it all together and using the political tension to show the hidden and overlooked strengths in Harrison and Atlas.
Harrison isn't all that interested in becoming the Alpha of the Black Bears. He was a fun character once I got past his disinterest in all things clan related and his desire to forgo his responsibilities. I kind of get why he felt that way once I saw more of his family.
Atlas was a bit of a sacrificial lamb. A member of the lower castes that were threatening revolution because of poor treatment by the royals, she was supposed to mend fences with a marriage. But we all know that doesn't usually work out. At first, she is torn between duty and following her heart. But meeting Harrison quickly changes her mind, and she finds herself neck-deep in the twisted politics and family drama that comes along with him.
There weren't any really surprising twists or turns in this one. It was just a well-told story of two fated mates saving their clan while finding love.
Two sisters fighting for the throne and kingdom go from family to enemies. Lu, the fighter and fiercely independent one, and be readying herself to become the first female leader of the kingdom. But her hopes are shattered when her father makes the unexpected decision to give the throne to her younger sister's, Min, fiance. A fiance that has ulterior motives and plans to rule with an iron fist.
Lu is a very strong, but unfortunately stubborn, character. She has a picture in her mind of how things should be and struggles to accept it when that picture is shattered by events unfolding around her. Forced to make allies in unusual places, we are introduced to Nokhai, a man from a culture and magical background thought to have vanished. But they will both find out that he is far more than what he seems, and his race is far from disappeared.
While Lu is a strong and likable character, I felt drawn to the story of Min. The younger daughter that grew up in the shadow of her sister. When she discovers she could be so much more, the power calls to her and she finds herself in the hands of a skilled manipulator that would do anything to keep her under his heel and under his control. He sees her ancient magic as a tool to recreate the world under his rule and wipe everyone who opposes him off the face of existence. She struggles to find out who she is and what her place in the world will be.
This is the first book in the Girl King series, and while it sets the stage for an epic fantasy battle, it is an amazing story on its own as well. There is much more to come in the world, and I feel several surprise revelations on the horizon as the sisters battle each other for the title of King.
**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**
The first book in this new serial-style series from Lia Davis quickly introduces us to the worlds of the werewolves and the vampires. Distrustful of each other for what seems to have been forever, an unknown force is now trying to bring hostilities into an all*out war. I don't see too much of the person stirring up trouble and killing tons of werewolves and vampires, and Davis does a good job of showing just enough that of them that I really want to know who it is
Kane is the vampire prince, but in order to take his place on the throne, his mother expects him to have a mate first, Problem is, he's pretty sure his mother won't approve of his true mate - his heart and soul cry out for the werewolf princess.
The book sets us up for a bit of adventure, an interesting mix of a menage, and several conflicts to stand in their way. And let's not forget about the potential war brewing in the background, present enough that I never forgot about it, but never fully overshadowing the romance aspects.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Let's go back to Regency (I think, I'm not the best at the English eras) England only pretend that magic is real and an organized part of society. This is my dream book description. I love the English historicals, and I think they only thing they're missing is a good dose of supernatural mischief.
Zen Cho really brings the supernatural mischief, and I loved it so much. We have witches, sorcerers, Faery creatures, familiars, and a whole host of other potentially magical beings just thrown about in everyday life. (Can someone please build a machine to take me there.) Downfall, they don't really like when women work magic. And so our story begins!
Enter Zacharias, the Sorcerer Royal, and his new protege Prunella, an incredibly magical woman that Zacharias plans to reform the rules of society for so they will accept her as a member and not banish her (or worse) for being a sorceress. I adored Zacharias. He was smart, dedicated to his craft, and always the gentleman. Even as his opponents throw magical hexes and assassination attempts his way time and time again, he takes it all in a stride.
Prunella, on the other hand, I had mixed feelings about. At first, I loved her spunk and get-it-done attitude. Risking it all to follow her dreams and unlock the secrets in the relics her family left her. But as the story went on, I found her to be a bit grating. She rarely listened to the advice of anyone, and it often caused some major problems and ordeals. And in the end, she does something (that I dare not say or I will spoil so much) that made me positively dislike her. I know she did it for all the right reasons, but she was too cold about it. She needed to have an emotional reaction after the fact, and I didn't see it.
I have the paperback for book two on pre-order though. The entire English world built here has completely captivated me, and I wonder how it all plays out.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Zoey was a great teenage character. The new kid in school and feeling a bit like an outcast is something I could completely relate to. Being uprooted and moving is rough for anyone, but moving AND finding out that you're not exactly human? That would be super stressful.
To add to Zoey's difficulties, the older generations of her Ice Dragon family are a bit snobbish and don't think humans are good enough for their grand-daughter (even if she is only half-dragon).
I really admired the fight that Zoey found within her self and the courage it took to stand up to her family and their traditions. I don't think her battle is over yet, but she may have won some allies to her side of the field by the end.
I have totally fallen in love with Teeny Weeny Tahini. The little faerie has been a part of a few previous Havenwood Falls stories, and she's always been so much fun. I was really excited to see her featured more in one of the stories.
However, the book didn't grab me right away. While I loved to see Tahini flit about, it seemed like it wasn't really going anywhere. It was super light and not the usual feel I've come to expect from a Havenwood Falls book. But then....
Well, then it all got a bit dark when we start to figure out who Shayin Pisik is and what she's up to. Shayin and Matt (the owl-shifter) have clashed in the past, and it's coming back to haunt him and his family. Shayin will do anything to get who she considers the love of her life back, even the darkest of dark magic. <shiver>
I don't know that I would have recognized this as a fairy tale retelling if I hadn't been told it was. I hope we get to see more of Tahini in future books, she really steals the show!
One of the things I enjoy most about the Havenwood Falls storylines is the great diversity of characters. People from all walks of life and creatures from all over the mythos. The Fall introduces a creature that I haven't seen in Havenwood Falls yet, and her best friend, who happens to be a witch.
Serena, our new creature, has no idea the paranormal world exists and that she is a very big part of it. Much of her family's past is shrouded in mystery, and her mother (who is understandably a bit of a crazy person) is unable to share the secrets and guide Serena. It falls to her aunts to take care of her, and they are up to something that Serena just doesn't understand yet.
As a person who has always found water to be very peaceful, I understood Serena's draw to it. But her draw is much more than mine, and it causes her peace and solitude, and also pain and guilt as she learns more about who she is and why the water calls to her.
This book was very much high school. The cliques, the friendship fights, the pranks, the getting in trouble, and learning the lessons of life. It rang very true (if a bit over the top) for what the high school experience is like. The Fall is one of my favorite editions to Havenwood Falls High so far (there are many I have yet to read though).
**Warning - this does have a bit of a cliff hanger ending - so be prepared.
What happens when a witch hunter falls in love with a witch? Well, hopefully nothing in Havenwood Falls. Witch hunter Macy is supposedly warded from her witch hunting blood, and it shouldn't be a big deal that she's dating the witch, Gallad. But her wards start to fail, and to avoid all hell breaking loose, Macy runs.
A large part of this story is Macy coming to terms with her history and legacy. When she stumbles upon distant relatives with a more violent tendency, she is forced to come face to face with what she just might become.
Macy's family, and her boyfriend Gallad, are racing against the clock to find her. If her month away runs out, then the magic will force her to forget everything she knows about her home.
There are some super crazy fight scenes, a very well-written psychological and moral dilemma, and a boyfriend that just won't give up on his true love. All in all, this is a great addition to Havenwood Falls, and I loved the entire premise and history of the witch hunters that live in the town.
Alpha Challenge is the 10th book in the Ashwood Falls series, and while I highly recommend reading them in order because there are a lot of carryover plots and characters, you could read them individually and still get a really great romance with a lot of great shifter war action.
Just as the shifters of Ashwood Falls think they have defeated the pack intent on destroying them, an attack steals away their young and the hunt is on to get them back. I wish this had been a little bit harder to do. While the Ashwood Pack is pretty much the strongest community of shifters, it felt a little bit like a stroll through the park in a thunderstorm instead of the struggle to fight against a strong enemy they knew little about.
The romance in the story was very well done. Both characters are struggling with issues from their past. And while they also both recognize it, Alec is the first to try and breach the gap between them to claim his mate. (And yes, as in most shifter romances, they know they are mates.) But Rhea has a harder time because of the secrets she as been hiding. But secrets have a way of coming out, and during the rescue of the kids, Rhea is confronted with Alec learning everything.
I really enjoy the Ashwood Falls shifters, and I hope this new enemy presents a challenge for them that they can really dig their teeth into and show how the pack still has room to grow and change.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
I really really wanted to enjoy this book. The concept of the land and magic is fascinating, and I loved it. An apprentice that has a hidden past, a chip on her shoulder, and more power than she knows what to do with right now - alright, let me have it. I want more.
But then I met Kayden. Who is a character that I DID NOT LIKE even after getting part of her backstory and learning a bit about why she was so cruel (yes cruel, not mean, but cruel) to everyone (yes everyone) around her. I didn't want to see her succeed. I wanted to see her get put in her place and in many respects she became the bad guy. Although at 50% through when I gave up, we hadn't met anyone else to fill the bad guy role, so maybe she will be.
Also, everything was about sex somehow. Kayden blackmails two instructors, gets accused of being the lover for another, assumes one is trying to get in bed with her just because he knocks on the door, and everyone is either flirting with her or jealous of her unusual beauty. Knock it off already! I get it - she's exotic and really pretty, but there can be other conflict that doesn't revolve around sex. That was what ultimately made me put the book down. I just couldn't anymore.
There were a lot of great things about this novel, but there were a lot of not very good things as well. I'd love to see a version with a more sympathetic Kayden. Still a brat with a chip on her shoulder, but some redeeming quality that lets me like her from the beginning. And find a way for her to blackmail, get her way, have conflict without it being about sex all the time.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Title: The Exercise of Vital Powers (Legends of the Order #1)
Author: Ian Gregoire
Some Lessons Must Be Learned The Hard Way.
Since its inception, The Order has been dedicated to the prevention of the misuse and abuse of magic. For seven decades this mandate has guaranteed peace and stability throughout The Nine Kingdoms. But a potential threat to the peace has emerged, and its source is much closer to home than the leadership of The Order may realise.
Arrogant, manipulative, confrontational and angry. Undesirable qualities in a person at the best of times, but more so in a young woman born with the power to bring kingdoms to their knees. Kayden Jayta, precocious apprentice of The Order, is all these things and more, yet wholly unwilling to acknowledge and rectify her many troubling traits.
Unbeknown to anyone, Kayden’s resolute determination to join the ranks of The Order is born of a secret that puts her priorities at odds with the precepts of the organisation, setting her inexorably on a collision course with the most powerful institution in The Nine Kingdoms.
If Kayden is to be dissuaded from walking the path she has chosen, averting tragic consequences in the process, two unanswered questions must be answered: What is the dark secret guiding Kayden’s actions? And, why has a legendary figure within The Order, with a secret of her own, taken undue interest in Kayden’s future?